Raising a child with Down syndrome is an exciting adventure, full of surprises but also challenges. Kids with Down syndrome love toys as do other children, but if you want to give your child more than just toys, but also tools for development, here are 6 helpful non-assistive technology tools that you should consider buying.
These items weren’t created especially for children with special needs, but their therapeutic design may be helpful for you and your family, as they offer support and a safety for your child.
It’s always important to keep in mind that your child with Down syndrome, a mild intellectual disability or low muscle tone, is going to progress and achieve all the things that every child does, but he’ll follow a different developmental chart. The secret to enjoying this experience is to focus on his abilities and to celebrate the small steps.
1. The most important tool for newborn and young children is tummy time. Give your child a safe environment for exercising all his body’s muscles while he learns to celebrate his independence and develop motor-control.
A basic play mat is the best thing you can get for this exercise. They are fully washable, safe and easy to set up anyplace in the house. They provide stability to your child while he exercises his muscles. You find them for $20 or less in any department store or toy store. Avoid buying a play mat with many pieces as they are not easy to transport, and your child could small pieces in his mouth, raising the risk of suffocation.
2. The next step is to buy a baby gym. Be sure to choose the one that grows with your child and can help him to the next step. I like the Bright Starts Baby Play Mat. It’s soft, colorful, and it has a supportive pillow at the top that protect Baby’s chin when he´s learning how to support his head. It includes a ring rattle and water-filled teething keys.
Take a look here for the Bright Starts Baby Play Mat.
Fisher-Price Discover ‘n Grow Jumbo Mat is another good choice. It’s easy to pack and features fun characters and lots of toys that will engage your child in developmental activities. Your child will love tummy time while kicking, pulling and discovering, and will move to the second step when he is ready to enjoy music while strengthening his muscles for sitting.
3. Kids with Down syndrome are flexible by nature and this may delay their physical abilities. Ask the physical therapist about getting hip helpers for your child. For only $15, you’ll help your child keep his legs closed while using the right muscles while learning how to seat.
4. When your child is ready to seat with support, the most important is to give him the experience of discovering the world in a supportive and safe way. Bumbo seat is still one of my favorites. Just be sure to buy the newest version that includes the safety kit. Another good tip is to use the play mat as a base for the Bumbo seat to avoid accidents. Bumbo seats are under $40 and have additional accessories such as toys and a tray.
Visit Bumbo seat here for more information about this product.
5. Give the child independence to move and play at the tub with the Dream Baby Deluxe Bath Seat. This is a perfect tool for stimulating your child at bath time while giving him the independence of using his hands to play with water. Full time supervision is a must when a child is playing with water.
Take a look at the Dream Baby Deluxe Bath Seat, here.
6. Avoid using static walkers for your child. This kind of walker is not safe and it provides children a false feeling of balance. Let your child grow while achieving the natural process of learning to roll, sit, crawl, stand up with support, and find his own balance while standing up by himself from the floor.
A good tool for providing him support when he’s ready to walk is the Moon Walk or similar supporters. They don’t do the job for him, but they keep him from getting scared or hurt in the process of learning to walk.
While looking for pictures to illustrate this post, I found these little treasures that I’m sure you’ll enjoy, as much as I did.
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