Of all the paediatric chiropractic visits, almost two thirds of those are for infants and babies! Chiropractic care for babies is safe, effective and gentle, using about as much pressure as you would to check the ripeness of a tomato. Our sense of touch is one of our first senses to develop, meaning even babies may benefit from manual therapy and therapeutic touch.
Why would my baby need to see a chiropractor?
Your chiropractor is trained to asses for imbalances, dysfunctions and injuries which may affect your baby’s quality of life. Chiropractors use their skills of palpation to identify areas of injury and restore normal movement patterns. Musculoskeletal irritation or injuries sustained during or before birth are termed “physiologic birth injuries”. Birth is an event full of compression and traction which may contribute to these very common, mild to moderate injuries. Serious injuries are, thankfully, very rare.
Some of the most common symptoms parents report: excessive crying/fussiness, ineffective feeding, refusal of tummy time, irritability with certain positions, only feeding on one side, refusal to turn head and excessive gas or changes in bowel habits.
Births which are at highest risk for injury include: inductions, fast births due to intense contractions, medically assisted (use of forceps or vacuum), breech births, and deflected presentations.
How do chiropractic treatments for babies work?
Research is still fuzzy on the hows of chiropractic treatment and infants. This is due to the fact that it is difficult to conduct ethical research with babies. Hypotheses suggest that, just as in adults, improving the mobility of a restricted joint or releasing a tight muscle promotes physical and emotional comfort while calming the autonomic nervous system.
What are the most common side effects?
Safety is always the number one concern with all our patients- but that goes double for babies and infants! The most commonly reported side effect of treatment is a temporary increase in irritability/crying during or in the time following treatment. This is usually brief and parents typically report a more content and sleepy baby when the irritability diminishes. Most of the babies I treat actually fall asleep during or shortly after treatment.
We also encourage parents to have these symptoms co-managed by their family doctor, nurse practitioner, paediatrician or midwife and to attend their regular check-ups. Working together, your chiropractor can be a valuable part of your baby’s health care team.