Low muscle tone (hypotonia) can affect any part of the body. In L’s case, he has mild hypotonia from head to toe which has affected gross motor skills, feeding, and speech. He was delayed in milestones such as rolling, crawling, walking, and speech and has seen numerous doctors, specialists, and therapists since he was 16 months old.
In the thick of it all, when he was newly diagnosed, it was hard for me to see the forest through the trees. There were times I was scared he wouldn’t be able to keep up with kids his age on the playground.
Play is the number one activity that doctors and therapists have suggested over and over again. The more we let L play, the more confident he was at climbing and running. He got stronger. The confidence the accomplishment of just making it up the stairs to the slide made him want to continue, which meant that his gross motor skills improved.
The trick to therapy for kids is to make the work fun. Through our years of talking with doctors and therapists, I’ve come up with a list of toys for kids with low muscle tone that will help build confidence and stamina without them even knowing!
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If your back yard is big enough, a swing set is a GREAT way to turn therapy into fun without your kids knowing. The playground was the #1 place pediatricians and therapists told us to take L. Getting a swing set helped us save gas on trips to the playground.
Chewey Tubes are a great tool for practicing biting and chewing. We've used them to improve tone in L's facial muscles and in feeding therapy. I've also offered them to him when he wanted to chew on clothes, toys, and pillows.
The Bilibo shells are great because kids can use them in multiple ways. Similar to the Teeter Popper, kids can use these shells to sit and rock in. If you order a set, you can even use them as stepping stones!
This inflatable disc is great for kids who need to work on their core strength (which can also affect learning) AND it can be used on a chair for kids who have a harder time sitting still or need more sensory input.
Bouncing on a trampoline is an awesome way for kids to warm up and "wake up" their muscles. I like this one from Little Tikes because your child can hold onto the handlebar for some stability.
If you’re a fan of experiences over gifts, consider paying for a lesson in their favorite activity or giving them a gift certificate to try something new. Hypotonia shouldn’t hold your child back from sports or activities they enjoy. In fact, activities that incorporate their whole bodies will help build strength and endurance over time. Some great activities for kids with low muscle tone are:
Horseback Riding (or even Hippotherapy)
Do you know a kid with low muscle tone? What’s their favorite toy?