Spinal Development In Children & The Importance Of Posture
Recently, we discussed the power of posture and the important role that it plays in a person’s overall wellness. But what about babies? After all, they are only little humans who are just beginning their development. If they can’t sit up or stand yet, what part does the spine have to play?
To understand spinal development in babies, it is important to learn more about the “fully developed spine.” To keep it simple, a fully developed adult spine looks like an elongated “s” shape, made up 4 curves – two primary and two secondary. The development of this shape happens in stages which means that infants are actually born with one “c-shape” curve. The rest of the curves develop as the infant’s skeletal structure begins to adapt to gravity. This means that their spine actually doubles in size within the first 2 years¹.
Just like adults, a baby’s brain, spinal cord and spinal nerves are responsible for their immune, digestion, elimination and respiratory systems. This is why the first two years of life, including the movement experiences, are so important to a baby’s spinal development.
Let’s learn a little more about what’s happening during this time:
The first of the primary curves that develops is the Thoracic Kyphosis. The development of this curve happens in utero and is what contributes to the convex or “c-shape” of a newborn baby. It is this “fetal position” that helps the baby to maintain proper alignment – or posture – during this stage. Proper alignment during this phase helps to ensure the baby is releasing the right amount of oxygen, digesting food properly, avoiding too much pressure on their spine and hips, and allowing the body to best regulate temperature.
The other primary curve that develops within the first few months is the Cervical Lordosis. This curve develops in the upper spine as the baby’s neck muscles become stronger and they are able to hold their own head up against gravity. During this stage, tummy time encourages the baby to arch their neck against the pull of gravity, helping to develop the proper curve of that upper spine.
The lower part of a baby’s spine – called the Lumbar Lordosis or “low back forward curve” – begins to develop anywhere between the 6-12 month mark. The timing on this depends on when they begin crawling or creeping on their own. Allowing your baby to move around during this period is crucial in order for them to develop their supporting muscles.
You will know that the final stage of development has occurred when the child can support themselves upright when walking. This final milestone will usually happen between 12-18 months. It is most important during this stage to encourage your baby to walk as much as possible in order to build strength and stability in their newly developed spine.
How Can Chiropractic Care Help?
As spinal health experts, Doctors of Chiropractic are specially trained to assess and help correct abnormal spinal development that could lead to nervous system interference and ultimately impede a child’s growth and development. Chiropractic is a safe, gentle and effective way to address these dysfunctions and promote overall wellness early on in a child’s life.
At Summit Chiropractic Center, Dr. Kelly has completed 200 hours of postgraduate study in chiropractic care for infants, children, and pregnant women and is “Certified by the Academy Council of Chiropractic Pediatrics” (CACCP) by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA).
This means that she has extensive training in the specific techniques and skills necessary for helping infants, children (including those with neurodevelopmental challenges), and pregnant women. She has also contributed to multiple research projects relating to these populations, as well. She believes this is very important because she has found that many parents have never heard of the benefits of chiropractic for children. She believes that every parent deserves to know how it can improve their child’s quality of life and she loves seeing those improvements in her practice each day!
Interested in learning more? Give us a call or request an appointment!
1. Wellness Media: The Pediatric Series. Spinal Development In Children. 2015. Wellness Media Resource Materials Inc.