Have you ever heard that babies are born without kneecaps? It’s common for people to think that babies are born without kneecaps. This is a belief that is actually true and backed by the science of how the knee develops. As it turns out, babies are born without kneecaps for a very good reason.
Babies still have knees but they are born without kneecaps, well the bony kneecaps that we have as adults. Experts say it actually takes a while for kneecaps to develop and they don’t even begin until after a baby is born. This means that babies are born without kneecaps, or the patella bone.
Is there a reason babies are born without kneecaps?
The reason babies are born without kneecaps is actually about reproduction. Like most things, how babies are birthed evolved with survival in mind. Kneecaps (or the patella) are hard, bony and sharp. This makes them less than ideal for moving thru the birth canal seamlessly. Since babies need to be birthed, they develop in the uterus with cartilage where we have kneecaps. Cartilage is more pliable than bone. That makes birthing a baby an easier task and the reason babies are born without kneecaps a good one.
Surprisingly, the patella doesn’t begin to develop right after birth. Instead the cartilage starts to turn into bone when the baby becomes a toddler (or around 2 years old). Babies are born with a lot more cartilage than adults have. As they age the cartilage begins to ossify or turn into bone. This process is not fast and takes the better part of 4 years. This means that babies are born without kneecaps and most kids don’t have a kneecaps until they are about 6 years old.
Babies are born without kneecaps
It’s beneficial for growth and development that babies are born without kneecaps. This makes it easier for babies to come into this world and learn to navigate around it. The flexibility of cartilage isn’t just good for babies in their kneecaps. Since they are crawling and bumping around, having cartilage in their entire body make babies more able to adapt and grow. Specifically in their kneecaps, the slow progression of ossification helps a baby adapt slowly to moving around, first on all fours and then standing upright.
Babies are born without kneecaps but you can’t really tell by just looking at them. If you have ever cared for babies though, you’ll know that they can keep their knees bent far longer than older children and adults. This is attributed to them having cartilage for kneecaps. Babies need to be able to bend their knees up for being in the womb and for soothing once they arrive.
Babies are born without kneecaps because they need to fit through the birth canal. In addition to being born without patellas, babies also are born with cartilage in other parts of their body that eventually turns into bone. This cartilage is helpful as the baby grows up, learns to experience life and develops actual kneecaps.