So often parents, grandparents, are so excited to see the young ones start taking their first steps, but as a Chiropractor concerned with healthy motor development, I have a simple reminder…let’s not rush this process!
There is a reason for every developmental stage in the human body – the body is not dumb, and there are no mistakes! The body has an amazing innate intelligence that governs and directs all functions in the body, this belief is at the core of chiropractic.
There is a very sequential order to the development of infant motor patterns. There is a reason infants don’t come out and start walking, and why they need to sit before they crawl or stand. We need to respect this process, and not force it. If development not progressing the way it naturally should be, we then need to look for the potential causes, find them, and restore balance so development can continue.
A healthy adult spine has 4 curves, but only two are present at birth: the thoracic (mid back) and sacral (tailbone – which at birth is not actually yet 1 bone but 4 separate pieces until it matures). Curves in the spine are essential because they help us stay flexible and balanced, and help absorb stress through gravity and daily activity. Curves in the spine develop as an adaptation to gravity – and this is a crucial step in how muscles develop the strength necessary for stability. An infant develops the curve in their neck when they begin to lift and support their head, and the curve in their low back when they sit. This happens during the first 6 months. Once infants can sit independently they have gained substantial strength in their torso, and their next step is to start to pull themselves up and develop strength in their hips and legs….this is the natural order, the way the body was designed to mature.
Placing infants in an upright position before they have reached this milestone can lead to instability within the spine and hip joints, and it’s the main reason the majority of Pediatric Chiropractors do not recommend infants be placed in jolly jumpers prior to this developmental stage, if at all. The premature stress they place on the hip joint can lead to problems in the spine and nervous system later in life – many of which we see in our practices and need to correct!
Children grow up far too quickly as it is – be patient with their development, don’t compare them to other children, and let their body do what it does naturally on its own, in its own time.