We all want what’s best for our kids. I have two children of my own, and nothing makes me more irrationally proud than when they hit those milestones of development, like walking or talking. As kids go through the transitions from sitting up, to crawling, and eventually to walking, their bodies and their spines must go through a great deal of development to compensate for these stresses.
There are four key areas I want to share with all of you that can make a big difference in the proper and unhindered development of children.
1) Wear Soft Soled Shoes
As my kids were aging, and we were buying more clothing and shoes for them, I noticed that the shoes babies wore were of two varieties. They were either nothing more than basically socks or they were smaller versions of adult’s shoes. The feet send a massive amount of neurological feedback to the brain regarding balance and position sense. It’s important for them to have soft soled shoes while they are learning to walk so that the feet develop as they should. What happens instead is that kids are often fitted with blocky, clunky shoes that inhibit proper movement of the feet. And the shoes we get as we get older tend to reinforce that notion. Get soft soled shoes for your kids.
2) No Jumpers
These are the carriers that kids sit in and then bounce and walk themselves around in. They come in a variety of types, but the two most common are the ones that assist in walking and those that allow them to jump up and down. Both are deleterious for the spine, as they put stresses on the spine from the hips that the kids are not ready to handle if they are not walking yet. Don’t worry! The kids will learn to walk soon enough! There is no need to rush it. Let them play on the ground, encourage some tummy time, and let them develop as they should.
3) Don’t walk before ready
We want our kids to learn to walk. I still remember when my son learned to walk in an airport, taking his first few hesitant steps from his mother to me. It was a proud moment. But pushing them into walking too soon puts pressures on the spine, hips, and pelvis that they are not ready for yet. Let them crawl first. Some kids have delayed reading and math skills because they have skipped the crawling stage. Crawl first, then walk later.
4) Don’t prop them up
This goes earlier than the walking advice, but it is for the same reason. If they can’t sit on their own, forcing them to sit up will put undue stress on the spine, especially in the cervical spine as they try to hold up their head. Putting pillows around them as they are learning to sit is different, and can protect them if they fall, but forcing them to sit when they aren’t ready is inappropriate for them.
In short, kids develop at rates that is right for them. Forcing stresses on their spines that aren’t right can create more problems. As much as we, as parents want them to grow up, let them take their time and do it as their little bodies want.