Your baby’s backside (also referred to as: buns, tush, behind) houses one of their most important muscle groups – their gluts. Babies and growing kids need strong gluts for several reasons, and not necessarily the aesthetic reasons we adults strive for!
The first reason is that when your baby is born they have an ‘immature’ bone structure which develops over time as your child grows and gets stronger and begins to move. The strengthening of the gluts helps to de-rotate (or straighten out) their thigh bone (or femur) into a mature shape. It also works on the angle of the femur where it meets the pelvis (also known as our hips). These changes are necessary for kids to develop a mature bone structure that can effectively support them as they go about developing their gross motor skills.
A second reason is that as your baby begins standing and walking, they will want to keep their center of gravity over their base of support. If their gluts are weak they will shift their weight back as a protective mechanism to keep their balance. Unconsciously they are afraid that if they lean forward over their feet (as most of us do when we walk) they will not be able to support themselves and hence fall, so they keep their weight shifted back over their heels. This can also cause your child to walk with a wide base of support (similar to a Frankenstein type walk) so that they will not have to shift their weight too much when they are walking. It is another protective mechanism that allows them to maintain their balance. I have found that by really working on strengthening the gluts it allows the child to bring their center of gravity forward to and narrows their base of support giving them a more mature walking pattern and a better ability to adjust to balance disturbances.
A third reason that your child needs strong gluts is that it can reduce in-toeing as they grow. By keeping the gluts strong it will create an external rotation moment that maintain a neutral hip alignment. Going back to ‘Why is W-sitting a Four Letter Word?‘ w-sitting also increases the internal rotation at the hips and encourages weak and overstretched gluts. If you want to assist your child in walking with their toes pointing forward, strengthening their gluts is a great way to do this.
A fourth reason is that the gluts are one of three muscle groups that are critical in the development of normal posture.
I hope all of this was understandable! I took a continuing education course a while ago and it was stressed in this course the importance of developing ‘buns of steel’ in kids (ok, those weren’t the exact words but its such a great phrase!) As kids develop through their gross motor milestones they are set up to develop strong muscles. Sometimes our lifestyles today aren’t as conducive to allowing the muscles to develop to their fullest, whether its w-sitting, or lack of tummy time, or our fear of kids hurting themselves so their exploration is limited. To help counteract this I will share some ideas for helping your kids make sure they are developing the ‘buns of steel’ they should have, just look for my post next week!