Would you believe when we say that the little creature sleeping so peacefully in their crib has more bones than you? It’s true! Babies have a higher number of bones than adults, and not just by one or two. They have almost a hundred bones extra! Amazing, right?
So, if you are wondering exactly how many bones does a baby have, let us tell you that those tiny little human beings have 300 bones in their body. However, adults have only 206!
We realise that a mere number won’t satisfy the question about how many bones does a baby have. A lot of more doubts are probably peeking in your mind right now, so let’s find out more about it, starting with bone formation.
How Do Bones Grow?
The process of new bone formation in any living being is known as osteogenesis. This process begins in the second month of the baby’s intrauterine life when the baby is just a tiny embryo!
As the fetus grows, the bones, too, continue to develop, both in length and thickness.
After birth, the infants still remain in their developing stage. The bones at this point are still soft as the calcification is not yet complete. Many bones are in the cartilaginous form at this time, contributing to their flexibility and increased elasticity at this early stage.
Eventually, the cartilages are fused and replaced by strong bones. The cells that help in bone growth are called osteoblasts. They are responsible for creating the new strong bones, which ultimately take over the softer cartilages.
There occurs a continuous process of development and remodeling of the young bones until children reach their adolescence. While the infant continues to grow, the soft bones become calcified and hardened. This process is known as ossification.
The developing bones have growth plates at their extremities. These growth plates are known as epiphysis, and they contain actively growing tissues. The proliferation of cells in these plates helps in the lengthwise growth of the young bones. After the bones attain their actual size, epiphysial fusion occurs, which terminates the growth of the bones.
Where Are All The Extra Bones?
Now that we know about how many bones does a baby have, let’s look into the places where these extra bones are located.
1. In The Skull
Most of the soft bones that infants have are located in their skulls. These unformed cranial bones are separated from each other by membranous gaps or sutures. These membranous soft spots in the baby’s skull are known as fontanelle.
Fontanelles have high elasticity and flexibility. They facilitate childbirth by allowing the skull to squeeze through the mother’s narrow birth canal. The fontanelles also allow stretching and remodeling of the cranial bones to accommodate the growing cranial structures and the developing brain.
As the baby grows, these bones increase in size and girth. The bones fuse together gradually and harden, and the fontanelles cease to exist. Only a narrow suture line remains between the cranial bones.
2. In The Limbs
The lower and upper limbs in humans have two of the largest bones in the body: the Femur and the Humerus, respectively. However, they don’t exist in the same form in babies as they do in adults.
For example, the Humerus, or the upper arm bone, exists as four separate cartilaginous parts. They keep on growing in length and thickness as the infant grows and gradually meet with the other pieces and fuse together. They undergo calcification simultaneously, which results in the hardening of the bone and increases its strength.
A similar phenomenon occurs in the case of the development of the Femur or the Thigh bone.
3. The Missing One
Did you know that even though babies have 300 bones, they do not have their knee caps for at least three years of their age?
The patella or the knee bone is present as a cartilaginous bone in babies at birth. So, you don’t have to freak out every time your toddler tumbles down. They won’t get hurt. The premature cartilaginous knee caps are spongy as they haven’t fully ossified.
By the time your child reaches 3 to 5 years of age, those cartilage plates will gradually clarify and harden into bony knee caps. Till then, enjoy watching your toddler trot and spill!
Why Do Babies Have More Bones?
Ever wondered why babies have all these extra bones?
Human babies are formed in such a way that it helps them naturally take birth and grow into healthy adults uneventfully.
The softer, malleable bones in babies are advantageous to them in various ways. The high flexibility of the fetus’s bones enables it to curl up in the confined space of the mother’s womb during the gestation period.
The tender bones in the skull help the babies pass through the mother’s pelvic canal during childbirth. These bones are sturdy enough to endure the external pressures and flexible enough to squeeze through the narrow cervix without damaging the newborn.
Also, babies will fall and stumble a lot while growing up. It’s an inevitable part of their development. The soft and spongy young bones ensure that the little ones seldom get hurt. You will find your baby getting up immediately with a giggle every time they fall on the ground.
Take Right Care Of Your Baby’s Bones
Now that we have figured out about how many bones does a baby have, it’s essential to understand how to take proper care of your baby’s bones.
You have to remember that the babies are in a growing stage. They require proper nutrients to develop strong and healthy bones. Once your baby starts eating solid food, make sure there are plenty of calcium and Vitamin D sources on their plate. They will help in the proper development of their bones. Simple activities and exercises such as skipping, jumping, running, and climbing help the bones gain weight and also build up their strength.