Have you heard of babies, toddlers, and children visiting their local family chiropractor? Chiropractic care is a safe and effective treatment option for children of any age.
Chiropractic adjustments for children are not the same as those for adults. In fact, they are dramatically different. We used different techniques and tools in order to ensure the safety of the adjustment. A chiropractor with pediatric training uses gentle and specific techniques applying minimal force to correct the misalignments found upon examination. Often, a sustained contact with gentle pressure is applied while a baby or child is held in the parent's arms to maintain a comfortable, relaxing experience. If a child is weight-bearing, is more mobile, and has had further development of their skeletal system, a chiropractor may opt to use more instrument-assisted adjusting styles, all of which are gentle and specific for the child’s unique needs.
Why may babies need chiropractic care?
Pregnancy and childbirth are tough on both mother and baby. There are many pressures and forces being exerted on the baby as they are compressed for hours by the uterine contractions and then squeezed through the narrow birth canal. A study by Viola Frymann, DO identified that 90% of newborns suffered the effects of birth trauma, described as associated strain through the neck and cranial regions. Dr. Frymann followed 1,500 babies across an eight year period, all who were examined within the first five days of birth. Her findings identified 10% of newborns with perfect, freely mobile cranial skull bones, 10% who had severe trauma to the head, and the remaining 80% all had some type of altered strain patterns of the cervical and cranial mechanisms.
If you’re reading that like I am, that means that 90% of newborn babies have some type of trauma and strain to their head and neck following labor and delivery!
Possible causes of birth trauma in infants:
Short or long labor
Use of Pitocin to strengthen contractions or induce labor
Restricted or limited maternal birthing positions
Pulling or twisting on the head to deliver the body
Use of forceps or vacuum extraction
If these birth traumas create altered movement patterns and altered nerve function, this may impact a baby’s ability to grow and develop properly. This may cause the baby to live in a more sympathetic state of their nervous system, known as the “fight or flight” state. These babies often exhibit symptoms such as:
Colic and fussiness
Inconsolable crying for hours each day
Inability to be soothed
Torticollis or uneven head shape
Poor immune health and recurring infections
What about care for older children?
As kids continue to grow, they progress through different developmental milestones. In my professional opinion, each of those milestones is critical to proper neurological and spinal development. Children bump their heads, fall down, scrape knees, and injure themselves in activities. It’s part of being a kid! The key is that children under chiropractic care will have better ability to adapt to their environment and heal from injuries. In research, there are also positive correlations with chiropractic care and children who exhibit less anxiety, depression, pain, and behavioral problems.
You’re telling me that children under chiropractic care may have less temper tantrums and better sleep habits? I’m in!
What if I’ve never taken my child in for an adjustment?
It’s never too late to start taking steps toward better health. “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” Before a child’s spine is weight-bearing, it’s most adaptable to correction, but that doesn’t mean that correction is impossible in later years. Over time, spinal misalignments can create permanent structural adaptations. Having your child evaluated and examined by a Doctor of Chiropractic is a great step to catch any underlying structural imbalances that may hinder them as they grow into adulthood. Poor posture, electronic use, contact sports, repetitive movements, or even car accidents can be reasons that children should be evaluated. Getting an adjustment may just be the ticket toward better digestion, better sleep, and better mood for your kids.
For more information about if chiropractic may be the right fit for your baby or child, reach out with any questions. The sooner I can meet your little one, the sooner I can help them achieve their greatest potential.
Botha, L. (2019, October). My Baby is Unsettled: How Chiropractic Help [Web log post]. Retrieved 2021.
Pathways to Family Wellness. (2019, December). Chiropractic and Children [Web log post]. Retrieved 2021.