Pediatric Spinal Development
I have been asked about the different curvatures that parents feel in their baby’s backs several times now so I thought it would be beneficial to go over the general maturation process of the spine with you today!
When we are born, our spine is in a ‘C’ shaped position. This is the natural position of the baby when in the fetal position. This ‘C’ shaped position is very important for babies as it naturally reduces pressure on the spine, and it aids in digestion and temperature regulation! It is also how they were able to be so cozy while in utero!
As your baby grows and begins to hold their head up, there is a shift from that ‘C’ shaped curve to forming what is known as the Cervical Lordosis. This is where the top of the spine curves in the opposite direction from the fetal position. This will be accomplished within the first few months of your baby’s life. If you want to assist your child in developing a healthy cervical curve, make sure to prioritize tummy time with your child daily! You want to aim for about 20-30 minutes of active tummy time a day! This time can easily be broken up into 4-5 tummy time sessions a day!
Once your child begins to crawl, pull to stand, and then begin to walk their spine will change again. Through this process, they will develop their Lumbar Lordosis, which is their low back curve. Their spine will now have fully transformed from the ‘C’ shaped curve of a newborn to being the ‘S’ shape of an adult spine. Making sure that you child has ample crawling space and time will allow for healthy lumbar curve formation. You do want to make sure that you child is crawling for several months prior to them learning to walk as this is both important for their spinal development and their brain development!
A key thing to be aware of through the growing process is that the spine is straight when a baby is laying on their belly. You will want to evaluate this several times because babies can be very particular about their position at certain times. A good way to evaluate this is to simply lay your baby on their belly and check to see if they have a shoulder tilt or one ‘hip’ looks higher than the other. If you notice that there appears to be curvatures, it may be a good idea to have them evaluated by either a pediatric focused chiropractor or your pediatrician. If you have any questions as you are going through this process, please reach out and let me know!
One of our biggest goals as parents is to make sure that our children are able to grow into healthy adults and by taking care of their spine at a young age, we can prevent a lot of issues that adults have! Remember that a small adjustment for you child now can make the world of a difference for your child’s future!! It is never too early for them to receive chiropractic care!