Interacting with your child in a soft play centre can have more benefits than just the chance for your child to have fun while you manage to enjoy the luxury of a still warm cuppa! It can give you a fantastic opportunity to observe the development of your child as they scramble over equipment and handle smaller, more intricate toys.
With around 10-20% of children experiencing a degree of joint hypermobility, observing how your child moves can give you early clues into whether this might be a factor in their development.
Children’s joints are far looser than adults, but sometimes their range of movement is even greater than you would expect.
This is not usually a cause for concern as all children develop at different rates, but if your child seems to be a little unstable in contrast to their peers, it might mean they have a tendency for hypermobility, which could be worth mentioning to your GP or Health Visitor.
Children who are late with gross motor skills such as crawling, standing and learning to walk, or who fall and trip more regularly than is considered normal, should also be checked for hypermobility. This can often be done in a single GP appointment using the Beighton score, a simple and painless ‘range of movement’ test.
Fine motor skills can also be affected, so watching how your child handles smaller pieces of equipment e.g throwing and catching balls, scribbling with crayons and using scissors, can help keep an eye on progress.
If they are progressing rapidly it is unlikely that there is a problem. If progress seems slow or their fingers seem to lack strength or perhaps bend backwards, it is worth checking for hypermobility as early intervention can help your child develop normally. This is particularly important for when they start school because special splints can be made to help grip pens etc.
Joint hypermobility is considered an advantage in many sports such as dancing, gymnastics and acrobatics, so your child can use their super powers to help reach a little further, or form even more graceful shapes. Pay careful attention to their soft play, as it might just help you to spot a future star!