3 Right Ways (And 3 Wrong Ways) To Treat Hypotonia

by Aculbertson

We all want what’s best for our kids.

And the steps taken to get there may come from intuition, friendly advice or Google sleuthing.

When it comes to treating hypotonia, there’s no shortage of recommendations. Some are great. Others…not so much. Here is a mix of both.


Bad Idea #1

While it’s true that some kids would benefit from including more protein in their diet, pounding powdery shakes each morning won’t take your little one from crawling to sprinting.

The same goes for exercise. CrossFit does not cure hypotonia.

Ideas like this are rooted in the misconception that these kids are simply weak. But that’s not the case. Muscle tone is not the same thing as muscle strength. Kids can be both incredibly strong and hypotonic.

While strength can be steadily increased, tone doesn’t really change.


Good Idea #1

Physical therapists are experts in movement.

They help kids reach their potential by guiding them through various exercises. But to your little one, it often just feels like play.

The one-on-one attention ensures that specific needs are addressed. In general, physical therapy can help improve:

  • Strength
  • Range of motion
  • Balance
  • Posture
  • Confidence
  • Gait


Bad Idea #2

There’s wisdom in not hitting the panic button any time your child deviates from the milestone schedule found in parenting books. Everyone goes at his or her own pace. And rushing them rarely helps.

But it’s also important not to ignore reality.

There are late bloomers. And then there are kids who are held back because of physical limitations. That difference is key.

If your little one is in the latter group, taking a wait and see approach or expecting them to simply grow out of it only compounds the problem. The gap between them and peers widens.

Intervention at a young age is the best way to set your child on the path towards future success.

Concerned about the delays you’re seeing? Speak up.

Feeling someone’s advice clashing with your parental intuition? Get a second opinion.


Good Idea #2

Plenty of parents have hang-ups about orthotics.

For some, it’s fear of the daily hassle. For others, it’s the stigma of visually labeling their child as “different.”

No matter the reason, don’t let it eclipse the need. Thousands of kids are now crushing milestones and gaining confidence because of a small amount of plastic. You can think of them as a pair of portable physical therapist hands that help your child during the other 167 hours of the week.

One type of orthotic in particular, the Surestep SMO, is specifically designed to treat pronation caused by hypotonia.


Bad Idea #3

Fear and frustrations often manifest in negative ways. Finger pointing. Tough love. Snide comments. Good intentions may be at the core, but those get lost in translation.

It can be helpful to take a step back to remind yourself (and especially other people) that your little one isn’t struggling because of laziness or some character flaw. Hypotonia is a legitimate medical obstacle.

Pressuring a child who has low tone to keep up in every way with peers just isn’t fair. Could you keep pace with a professional athlete?


Good Idea #3

Patience. Support. Realistic expectations.

Those are the three key ingredients to help your child thrive. Some days will be much easier than others. And you will fall short from time to time.

But just keep moving forward. After all, that’s what your little one is doing, too.



Will SMOs help my child?