When very small, your child sleeps a lot. Take advantage of his being awake to especially spend time with him. Bit by bit, he will sleep less. Games can then be stimulating to wake up his senses and strengthen his muscles.
Hypermobility affects all the baby’s joints, but especially in the vertebral column. Because of this the neck must always be protected and held. Forced movements in all the joints must be avoided. The baby’s back is especially hypotonic. This is why when he is placed sitting up his head falls forward and, when he is lying on his stomach, he has difficulty in getting up. Babies need their back muscles to hold themselves up and move their head. To be reinforced, the back muscles need active physical therapy.
In order to build the baby’s muscles and help him to sit up, you can prop him up in the correct position with a pillow. When your baby is stretched out on his stomach, you can shake a little coloured rattle in front of his face so that the noise will encourage him to raise his head. This little game will gradually build his neck muscles.
When you carry your baby, avoid rigid shells and kangaroo baby carriers. They do not fit to the accentuated curve of your baby’s back. Scarves, which are softer, allow carrying the child by the bottom (buttocks) which promotes proper support.
To develop his senses, take your child out of his baby rocker and play with him. This will let your child see those around him and participate in family life, in his own way. It’s a good idea to put him on his back, stretched out on a thick foam pad on the floor, to encourage him to grasp rings for example. When your child is on your lap, you can encourage him to watch the movement of noise-making toys.
Activities must be recurrent and regular even if you won’t see results until later. They will be different depending on the child, but any progress will thrill both parents and child. Be careful to make much of his special skills or talents during play: his sense of music or theatre, his sense of humour, and so on. In this way what he’s best at will gradually emerge.
There are a great many games for your child to get familiar with letters and numbers. There are also specific learning methods (Makaton [consult the Makaton website: http://www.makaton.fr] for language, Borel-Maisonny for reading, Montessori for mathematics, etc.) which can be presented as fun.
Play time must always be fun for your child. Above all, the child and then the adolescent and adult, must be happy with their down-time activities. Having this kind of activity gives him something to feel good and proud about, just as for his brothers and sisters. Be sure to let your child play with someone other than you. Any activity should be suggested naturally as a game, and not systematically as for learning. To prepare language, there can be play involving blowing for example.
Also, language games aim to encourage vocalisation and use of language in a relaxed setting. Never force your child to join a game, but gently encourage him to participate in the fun and to enjoy the play. Your imagination should work continually toward the essential goal: fun.
Give your child the time he needs to take in instructions. When suggesting something new, give him one simple instruction. Always repeat the same instruction the same way.
Both playgrounds and public gardens allow your child to learn about new movements: running, climbing, pulling himself up, hiding, etc. These outings will always be rich experiences for him. Sometimes you will find sets of horizontal bars. By holding your child up by his hips, you can help him to go from one bar to the next. This light stretching will strengthen him and tone his muscles.
With regular, gentle use of a swing your child will gradually get used to it. Play of this kind will help him position himself in space and get used to not touching ground. To reassure him from the start, try him on a swing with a seat.
As with all children, a pet can mean joy and happiness, encouraging a sense of responsibility in him if his parents help him take care of some of the tasks himself. They should nevertheless ensure that the animal has proper care. If your child has a serious anxiety problem at bedtime, an animal’s presence in his room can help calm things.