Hyper-mobility - Bending the Milestones by Lindsay Parker (Mummas & Beans Byfleet)

'Hypermobility - bending the milestones' 

I really want to share our story of late walking due to hypermobility,  as first of all I knew absolutely nothing about it until my son was diagnosed. But also because it’s not necessarily a bad thing once you know.  

I feel I should say, if you’re worried at all that your baby isn’t meeting milestones etc always get it checked out and don’t self diagnose.

But as a Mum that went through an uncertain time with a physically delayed baby, I really want to share our story in the hope it raises awareness as well as the realisation that every baby is different and that baby milestones aren’t set in stone. There are exceptions to the rule, in this case: hypermobility. 

Generally speaking, hypermobility means your joints are more flexible than other peoples and you have an unusually large range of movement.

Obviously there are varying levels of hypermobility, at the far end it can cause pain and cause strains and sprains and even dislocation of joints.  

Hypermobility in babies/Toddlers: 

We all look at milestones, it’s helpful to have a rough guide. But what if your baby doesn’t fit into those milestones? Is something seriously wrong? Am I being paranoid? 

For me, it was when he was not weight bearing on his feet that didn’t sit well with me. He never did it, if we tried to get him to stand he would just lift his legs in the air. 

This carried on, and well past a year old he was still not keen to be on his feet. He did start pulling himself up around 14 months but didn’t like it and wasn’t a confident cruiser. 

We got 17 months and no progress had been made, We were going to baby groups and it was becoming more and more evident that he was not at the same level physically as most of the babies we were interacting with. He was hitting other milestones well such as speech, social interaction and fine motor skills whilst eating and playing etc. But had no strength or confidence when it came to standing and walking.

I happened to mention it to one of the wonderful ladies at the children’s centre we went to weekly, and she mentioned hypermobility to me. 

I googled it, we all do it as parents but we aren't qualified to make medical decisions and diagnose! A typical thing i might have typed in google: 'when should baby walk?' 

Answer from babycenter.com 'Most babies take their first steps sometime between 9 and 12 months and are walking well by the time they are 14 or 15 months old. Don't worry if your child takes a little longer though. Some perfectly normal children don't walk until they're 16 or 17 months' 

Imagine reading this when your child is 18 months plus and not walking, it isn't helpful and doesn't account for hypermobility and variations from the norm of what is 'expected'.

We went back to the doctor again and he was put on a list to see a physio.   

But the waiting list for physio was long and we were worried. He was at nursery and being kept back a room as he wasn’t physically at the standard of the other children. He was still predominantly crawling up to 20 months. 

At 21 months, we decided to pay for a private appointment with a children’s physiotherapist. I was 4 months pregnant with my second baby and so so sick and struggling to carry my heavy toddler around and we were really quite worried at this point. People would say to me 'hes a boy, hes lazy' which i never felt was why he wasn't walking, and as a parent I try to strike the balance of encouraging my children with letting them achieve things in their own time, for me at 21 months we needed to do something.

The physio came to our house and i will never forget it, she walked into my lounge, took one look at my boy sitting on the floor and said ‘well he’s a bendy boy isn’t it?’ 

She diagnosed hypermobility in his hips and ankles within 5 minutes. She advised us to buy him some supportive ankle boots and to encourage him as much as possible to be on his feet with the boots on, which we did the next day, he was walking 2 weeks later on Brighton beach 

Hypermobility is not a negative thing in general. It can mean you might be nimble, dancing and gymnastics might be easier and you don’t get as many wrinkles as you get older due to the type of collagen you have! 

That said, for a wee baby, it’s challenging to learn to sit, crawl and walk when you are bendy and have less strength in your joints than your average. 

It’s become apparent again at preschool with pencil holding. He is struggling, so we believe his wrists are hyper mobile too (which we were warned about when he was diagnosed). 

BUT, he does athletics class every Saturday, he runs, he jumps he does everything! It just happened later and for a very good reason. 

We had no knowledge of it, we were scared, we were obsessed by milestones. 

But sometimes a boy comes along that bends the milestones in his own special way and walking for the first time at 21 months shapes a wonderful little human being that does things in his very own special and beautiful way 

For more information on hypermobility:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/joint-hypermobility-syndrome/ 

http://hypermobility.org/