The teeny tiny toes, little pumpkin head, or little fingers of your little ones are made of bones. The skeletal and muscular systems work closely to give structure to our body and form our shape. Its bones provide protection for the internal organs, support various organs of our body and facilitate movement. They make up the red and white blood cells, reserve essential minerals, and support mobility. Although they’re extremely lightweight, bones can be strong enough to bear our entire weight. As the body of a child develops, these bones grow and change during their lifetime. Our bone ends contain softer growth plates made of cartilage that fuse a few years after the first menstrual period between ages13 and 15. In contrast, the growth plates fuse much later for boys, around the age of 17.
The kneecaps of children made of cartilage and fatty tissue don’t solidify into bones until they are about 10 or 12 years old. It may surprise that kids can crawl on their knees without hurting themselves or damaging their legs. So, when a pointy elbow is jabbing you from inside or when a little bottom pushes on your bladder, you must wonder how many bones a child has. Here is a detailed study on how the bones of human babies develop over time.
How Many Bones Are Babies Born With?
A normal adult body consists of approximately 206 bones, while a child has around 300 bones during birth.
Do Babies Have Extra Bones Than Adults and Why?
Newborn babies have nearly 100 more bones than full-grown adults. Some bones begin to fuse gradually between the ages of 2 and 3 until the child has a fully developed body. Some of the bones of infants join together to form the 206-213 bones of the adult human skeleton. Ultimately an adult ends up with fewer bones than you had as a child.
When Does the Number of Bones in Infants Change?
As babies grow, some of the cartilages in their skeletons start hardening as the fusing process of the bones begins. A baby’s skull consists of five different parts of cartilaginous bone, which make up the ‘soft spot‘ of a newborn’s head. These bones grow together to form a solid, unified skull with time. The hardening process begins shortly after birth and typically lasts for the entire period of a child’s growth until they reach the age of 20. Girls usually stop growing a year or two before this mark, while some boys might stop a year or two later. Hence, a child stops growing once the bones have mostly finished fusing.
How Does Baby’s Bone Grow During Pregnancy?
During the initial stage of pregnancy, the entire skeletal structure begins as cartilage, a softer and more flexible tissue than the bones. This allows further growth while accommodating the baby to fit through the birth canal. Here’s a month-wise break-up on the growth of your baby’s bones during pregnancy.
1. Month 1
Soon after a woman conceives, the little embryo divides into three layers of cells. The mesoderm (middle layer) develops into your baby’s bones, heart muscles, kidneys, and sex organs.
2. Month 2
By the sixth week of pregnancy, the arm and the leg buds sprout from the fetus. The tail shrinks and eventually disappears, leaving only the tailbone at the base of the spine.
3. Month 3
4. Month 4
Calcium gets delivered from the mother’s body to the baby via the placenta, which assists in the hardening, strengthening, and hardening of bones.
5. Months 5 and 6
6. Months 7 and 8
During the third trimester, about 250 milligrams of calcium gets transferred to the baby’s body through dairy products. This helps in ossifying cartilage to bones, developing muscles, and building up a protective layer of fat.
7. Month 9
During week 36 of pregnancy, around 350 milligrams of calcium get transferred every day.
When Do Babies’ Bones Get Hardened After Birth?
“Osteoblasts” are specialized cells responsible for newer bone formation and rebuilding damaged bones. The amount of calcium and minerals stored within bones is known as bone density which lends strength to them. With a higher amount of stored calcium, the bones become harder. The cartilage that makes up the bones of infants develops into a more solid form due to the calcium in breastmilk or formula. As a child grows, the dietary calcium and Vitamin D from supplements or exposure to sunlight help with calcium being absorbed by the bones in order to become stronger.
Important Factors to Protect Baby’s Bones
It is important to protect the bones of your newborn. The best way to do so is by diet and exercise. Make sure that your babies are fed a good and balanced diet full of nutrition that can promote bone growth. Vitamin D is one of the most important vitamins for bone health. Usually, formula milk contains a high amount of this vitamin. Once solid food is introduced, their diet should include plenty of vitamin D and calcium. Bones can be strengthened by participating in weight-bearing exercises. Similarly, your child’s activities such as running, jumping, and climbing put weight on the bone, which aids in building stronger bones. A family workout routine or a fun family activity can safely test your bones and muscles and foster good bone health throughout adulthood.
Diet for Your Newborn Baby’s Bones
A child’s bones need the right nutrients and vitamins for consistent growth. Nursing mothers would be delighted to know that the ingredients present in their breastmilk are ideal for their growing children. There are loads of vitamins and minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and amino acids present in breastmilk. However, Baby formula has been designed to offer babies the right amount of vitamin D that accelerates bone growth. Vitamin D can be found in around half a liter (500 ml) of formula per day. It helps with the absorption of calcium, that aids in strengthening and fusing bones. As our human body doesn’t make calcium by itself, calcium must be present in the diet of a mother and her child. Once solid food is introduced, their diet should include plenty of 1 vitamin D and calcium. Here are some food options that can be given to your newborn child.
1. Dairy Products
2. Fatty Fish
3. Green Vegetables
4. Vitamin D-rich Foods and Fruits
Activities for Baby’s Bone Growth
Your baby is a beautiful child whose body consists of an amazing collection of soft and springy bones that will fuse and harden to create a sturdy adult skeleton. The right nutrition can encourage the process of laying the foundation stone for children’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Similar to muscles, bones can improve with more usage. Using muscles puts pressure on bones which increases their strength. Moreover, a child has more potential for physical activity than an adult. Here are some of the weight-bearing activities and top choices of activities that can help to build stronger bones.
1. Playing Informal Sports
Encourage regular physical activity like walking, running, and hiking for at least 60 minutes per day. This can be casual and recreational, which may raise the heart rate and lead to sweating.
Movements should be forceful, fast, changing in direction, and progressively more skilled to load the bones.
3. Setting Up Obstacle Course
A fun, high-impact obstacle course like Frog-Leap, Drop-hop, Jumping Jack, or Hopscotch can be set up for your child to help build their bone strength. More challenges can be added by using a timer or repeating the activity.
4. Lifting Weights
Age-appropriate resistance exercises like lifting weights or work-outs are great ways to build healthy bones.
With around 95% of bone mass built by the age of 20, this time is important for the overall internal development of a child. Your child’s bones will ultimately change and grow significantly during childhood and adolescence. Though our bones continue to grow throughout our lives, their strength declines over time and the entire aging process. Hence, every child must be well-nourished with the right nutrition that can help them to lead an active and long life with their bones developing healthily.