Did you know that 65% of neurological development (development of the brain and nerve system) occurs in your child’s first year of life and that 90% of the stimulation to the brain comes from movement of the spine? Proper neurologic development and primitive reflex integration happens naturally through movement. Which is great because that means we don’t have to teach our babies how to move, we just have to provide them the right environment. Since humans are hard-wired for movement, activities such as tummy time, activity mats, baby wearing and free time to play and explore on the floor provides ample chance for balanced movement and development of your child’s brain and nerve system. The milestones during the first year of life help us as parents and professionals monitor the progress of brain development. Some of these include rolling, crawling, walking, cooing, eye contact, grabbing for toys, and head control. With a spine that is free from tension, the body moves in a balanced way using both arms and legs, turning their head in both directions and the muscles have a good quality of strength. When there is a restriction in movement of the spine, compensations can show up and contribute to delayed milestones, preferred head rotation leading to a flat spot or trouble feeding, dislike of tummy time or an unsettled baby.
When you are playing or interacting with your baby, it is important to observe how they move their body. For instance, does your bub:
*Turn their head equally both directions or do they have a head preference looking more to one side or a tendency to tilt their head or body to one side
*Move and reach for toys with both hands equally and once they are 6 months are they passing the toys from hand to hand.
*Do they roll over both shoulders
*Do they actively lift their head on tummy time and look around. At 3 months your bub can support themselves on their forearms and at 6 months they start to push up onto their hands.
*Are they using both legs to push when creeping on their tummies
*Is the crawling pattern on hands and knees or is one leg bent to the side or are they bum shuffling
An environment that encourages proper brain and movement development is one that is rich in sensory input opportunities. In the first few months, the best things you can provide for your little one include singing, reading, rocking, baby wearing, gentle massage and short bursts of tummy time on your chest. These activities can continue to be of benefit long into the primary school years and can form the basis of bedtime routine or calming techniques for older children. As your bub gets older and starts to explore their world a bit, it is important to allow free play on an activity mat and with different toys. Wooden toys, puzzles, thick books they can turn the pages of themselves, musical instruments like maracas and tamborines are great toys to get their imagination and curiosity happening. The best toys to help grow baby’s brains are ones that are 90% child’s imagination and 10% toy. Even cardboard boxes and plastic containers make great toys.
Chiropractic can also be a beneficial component to your child’s growth and development. If your child is showing signs of imbalance such as head preference, difficulty feeding, unhappy on tummy time, unsettled, delayed or skipped milestones or using one arm or leg more than the other they could have some tension in their bodies that is affecting their ability to move in a balanced way. Chiropractors assess and adjust babies and children very different than adults. Chiropractors assess your baby’s hips, spine and cranial-dural system for imbalances which may occur through intra-uterine position, birth, bumps, falls, stresses and environmental impacts. Although all forms of care have some inherent risks,chiropractic care is generally considered to be a safe, gentle and effective option for your baby’s health and development. There is no “cracking” of the baby’s joints. In fact, the adjustment is a very gentle stretching with fingertip pressure used at the areas of tension. Chiropractors also advise on activities you can do at home to support your child’s development.
If you have any questions regarding chiropractic for your child or possible responses to the chiropractic adjustment, please feel free to call or message me and I will be happy to answer your questions. If you would like to book an appointment to have your child’s body balance, development and nerve system checked, you can call the office or book in online.