FREEDOM IN BABY’S DEVELOPMENT CAN INFLUENCE SPINAL CURVATURE
Stop right now and look at the profile of the person next to you. Do you notice that he/she has two spinal contours facing forward and two spinal contours facing backward? So, were we born with all these curves, or did they come about over time as we mature?
The development of our human spine curvature is accomplished during the child’s first few years of life. While still in the mother’s womb, our spine is held in what is called its primary curve, just one long “C” shaped curve from the base of the skull to the tip of the coccyx. This contour curves forward in its entirety. After several months of life, as the baby begins to raise his head while lying on the floor, the spine starts to take on its secondary curves. The first of these secondary curves are located in the neck and creates a backward C-shaped curve.
The next secondary curve to develop is the low back or lumbar curve. This curve develops as the baby begins to crawl on all fours. For the proper development of the neck curve and lower back curve, the child should be allowed to play on his or her stomach and to crawl as much as they want to. These contours provide for proper body posture, weight-bearing, and support for the internal organs in man’s upright posture. If these contours are not allowed to develop right initially, the toll of gravity, life stresses and traumas will surely add to the degeneration of the spine and health of the person in the long run.
Many devices have been made for today’s busy parents to aid in pacifying and occupying the baby. From the “Swing” to the “Spider- Legged Walker,” such devices prevent proper secondary curve development. The walker introduces the child to walking before the secondary curves have developed properly for upright posture. Once the child goes from crawling to standing, further development of the lower back curve is stunted, if not stopped. In adult life, a reduced lumbar curve will lead to an alteration in the weight-bearing of your lower back. This altered weight-bearing leads to altered body mechanics, ultimately leading to pain, discomfort, and degeneration of the spinal joints.
The best thing any parent can do for a child is to give him or her plenty of space to lie on his or her belly and crawl. Don’t worry about trying to get your child to be the first kid on the block to be walking. The way your child’s spine develops will determine how his or her spine will be able to cope with the stresses of adult life.