The evolution of your toddler’s posture

It’s possible that you didn’t notice your own posture until your parents started correcting it in your teen years, but your posture actually starts developing much earlier. Baby’s posture is still a work in progress, but the easiest way to encourage him to have good posture is by modeling good posture for him yourself. Baby is working on his posture at this very moment, and his posture will continue to develop as he grows.

When he was a baby…

That round little ball of love didn’t have any posture! Baby had what is called “resting posture,” where his body would totally conform to the shape of whatever sling, bouncer, or snuggle he was in because his body was super flexible and his muscle tone was still developing. His favorite pose was the fetal position because it was what he was used to from being in the womb. As he got bigger, he started stretching out a little more and trying to roll around and sit up.

When he started sitting up…

When Baby started sitting up, it was because the muscles in his core and spine were strong enough to support his head, neck and torso. His spine was able to fully elongate and allow him to sit straight up. It’s possible for babies to be taught to sit up before their muscles and bones are totally ready, but this can lead to posture with a curved back while sitting, which isn’t good in the long run (it’s also not great in the short run). Ideally, your child has a straight head, neck and back when he sits upright.

When he starts walking…

Once  he started walking, when his muscle strength and balanced allowed him to move themselves forward, Baby may have started to walk with a wide base, for greater stability. He probably has flat feet, an arched back, and start to stand taller while he walks (and taller and taller as he grows!). As he gets older, his feet will lose their fat padding and reveal arches, and his gait will straighten out.

When he starts doing other stuff…

Good posture will become especially tricky when Baby starts eating at the table, sitting at chairs, and carrying heavier things. These can easily contribute to poor posture, especially when combined with adults modeling less-than-perfect posture to him. When Baby is using a chair or a table, encourage him to sit flat, not on his knees or leaning over the table on his feet. Try to keep any backpack or weight that he wears or carries at less than 10% of his body weight, and encourage Baby to sit “criss-cross applesauce” to distribute weight evenly and decrease strain on joints.

If you have concerns about your child’s posture, your healthcare provider will be able to answer any questions you might have or direct you to a specialist. This could be a good thing to check in about during your well-child visits as well!


Sources
  • T. Berry Brazelton, Joshua D. Sparrow. Touchpoints. 2nd Edition. Da Capo Press. 2006. Print.
  • “Physical Appearance and Growth: Your 2 Year Old.” HealthyChildren.org. American Academy of Pediatrics. December 21, 2015. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/Pages/Physical-Appearance-and-Growth-Your-2-Year-Od.aspx
  • “Understanding normal variations in childhood gait and posture.” North East Valley Division of General Practice. Centre for Community Child Health & Ambulatory Paediatrics Royal Children’s Hospital. April 1997. http://www.nevdgp.org.au/info/std_misc/Gait_hcs.htm
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