People are often shocked to hear newborn babies and young children visit chiropractors, however we have to remember that they can experience some of the most traumatic events during their early years. Imagine being pushed through a small relatively ridged hole. Don’t you think that even that during a stright forward birth is enough to make us feel a little sore?
Firstly let me reassure you the way we choose to treat babies and children at KHChiropractic is drastically different to adults. Their bones, muscles and associated structures are still developing and therefore it is vital practitioners adapt their techniques accordingly. With babies we work on the same structures with smaller, much lighter treatment. For instance the pressure used on a newborn baby would be similar to that you can withstand on your eyeball!
Treatment for newborns and children is:-
- Drug free
During delivery there are a number of factors which can influence delivery choice such as position, size, health of mother and baby etc. The choice should be made in the best interest of mother and baby, which can mean a natural birth is not suitable. No matter what type of delivery you have (natural, c-section, ventouse forceps etc) this is a huge demand on both bodies.
For those who experience more distressing births requiring intervention, there are additional stresses put upon the newborn. If we consider the force exerted on the babies fragile head by the use of tools and extraction devices we can only imagine the discomfort this could lead to, not to mention the effects on the mother. How do you think you would feel if you were pulled head first through a small hole?
What happens when I bring my baby to the chiropractor?
As babies can’t tell us with words what’s wrong there are a number of ways chiropractors can pull together information to help understand what is troubling them, information is gathered from the:-
Baby position in the womb (eg breech, transverse and for how long)
Babies current habits (sleep pattern, feeding habits, daily routines, general wellbeing)
During the examination postural and muscular tension are assessed, as well as body, spine and neck movement. Particular attention is put on spinal mobility and alignment. Head shape and position of the cranial bones are evaluated. For babies with feeding difficulties the sucking reflex, jaw movements and mouth muscles are assessed. The abdomen and diaphragm are checked for tension and areas of potential congestion. Hips, knees and feet are also tested for alignment and stability.
Examinations vary and take into consideration age and developmental stage.
If treatment is suitable it is always gentle and age/development appropriate. It will also depend very much on the baby or child’s co-operation. Some babies will sleep right through treatment, others will prefer to be held by the chiropractor or parent, others prefer lying on a beanbag. Our aim is to make the baby or child as relaxed and happy as possible. Its also great if both parents can attend the treatment to have the best understanding of what we are doing and how they can help their child further at home.
We always monitor treatment response not only through what we feel (postural and mechanical change) but also via parent feedback. We may offer advice on nutrition, sleep position, car seats etc. We may also feel the need to work alongside GPs, Specialists and health visitors where necessary.
How can babies and children benefit from chiropractic treatment?
- Massage – Activates pressure receptors and improves digestion.
- Manual therapy – Helps shift from sympathetic (fight or flight) response to parasympathetic (rest and digestion)
- Many people report their babies sleep better following chiropractic treatment.
When a baby responds well to treatment it may help:-
- Mother/infant bonding
- Reduce early discontinuation of breast feeding, formula change or early use of solids
- Unnecessary use of drugs
- Improved sleep patterns
WARNING – Always supervise your baby during tummy time, especially while very young.
Tummy time is very important as it helps babies meet their developmental milestones. It is not uncommon for parents to become concerned about allowing babies on their stomachs since the ‘back to sleep campaign’, which has led to babies spending even less time on their stomachs; however it has now been shown to be an important stage in development.
The following chart is meant as a guideline, please be aware that some babies may reach milestones before their peers. If you are concerned about your baby’s development it is important to consult a specialist for further advice.
When babies are placed on their stomachs they start engaging their neck muscles to lift their heads. Their desire to see what is in front encourages them to start pushing up with their hands, promoting the development of neck and arm muscles.
Many babies start rolling over from this position onto their back which promotes co-ordination. However it is always important to encourage tummy time and not allow your baby to limit it by rolling over each time.
From here they progress into the crawl position as they push up onto their knees (an important stage), missing this stage by jumping ahead to standing isn’t always a good thing.
For more tips and information on Tummy Time please read
If you would like your baby assessed following birth please give us a call on 0203 633 0565.
If you feel that your baby / toddler is having developmental issues or appears in pain (e.g. excessively crying, unusual body movements, arm gestures, ridged postures or sleeping poorly) then once again it may be worth booking them in for an assessment. The chiropractor will assess the situation from pregnancy to present day to establish what the cause could be. This will be achieved through a thorough history and examination, following this an explanation of what has been found will be given to you before the chiropractor proceeds with treatment.
In general we find that younger babies (eg within the first month or two of birth) respond the quickest. This does not mean older babies do not respond, just that a few more treatment sessions may be needed. Parents often comment on their babies sleeping better after treatment. The youngest baby our Chiropractor Karen Habershon has ever treated was one day old.
If you would like to see a baby chiropractor to get your child checked please call KH Chiropractic on 0203 633 0565 or email Karen@khchiropractic.com for a chiropractic appointment in Liverpool Street / Aldgate / Shoreditch (E1 7NE). For appointments near Chiswick (W6) call 0208 563 2608.