04/19/2022 by Dr. Michaela Peterson
Chiropractic Care for Infants
Birth is traumatic for both mom and baby. During birth, your baby transitions from a zero-gravity environment to feeling the full effects of gravity. Feeling the forces of the world for the first time acutely affects their nervous system. Labor and birth can leave your baby feeling tense and may lead to difficulty with feeding.
How does the trauma of birth affect feeding?
Some babies will present with difficulty turning their head to the right or left. This often means trouble switching between breasts, as their neck cannot completely turn to face the breast for proper latch. Parents often notice their baby is favoring one side, and this could be the reason. Chiropractic can help.
How does chiropractic help babies?
Babies' bodies are just like ours, they can get tight muscles and have misalignments. Chiropractic care helps both big and small bodies by restoring motion to the joints and relaxing tight muscles.
Chiropractic worked for a baby in my family.
My niece was 6 months old when I met her for the first time in 2017. I asked my sister-in-law how the baby was doing and she sighed. “She cries a lot, and breastfeeding is really hard, but I keep trying each day.”
You could tell my sister-in-law was exhausted.
My niece was colicky and favored the left breast when feeding. I was the Vice President of Michigan State University’s Pre-Chiropractic Association at the time. I suggested my brother and sister-in-law take her to the chiropractor at their local VA hospital, as my brother was in the military.
Chiropractic helped both baby and parents rest and recharge.
After my niece’s first visit, she was able to turn her little head more each way. She was finally able to feed on the right breast. She slept so soundly that night, giving my brother and sister-in-law much needed rest.
Do chiropractors "crack" babies?
Infant adjustments are much gentler than those given to adults.
Infant spinal adjustments use light, sustained pressure to correct any misalignments. To get a clearer picture of that pressure, imagine the amount of pressure you use to touch your eyeball.
Infant cranial work involves gently shifting baby's cranial bones to help the head form well. It also activates your baby's parasympathetic nervous system, helping to regulate their rest and digest cycles.
Infant intra-oral work assesses for ties, quality of latch, and any need to perform cranial work to open the soft palate.
What do chiropractors look for when they examine a baby?
I do a detailed health history, then I examine the baby's range of motion, especially at their neck.
I also look for issues that affect your baby's ability to feed. I assess their latch using a gloved finger. It's important to check for tethered oral tissues — tongue and lip ties. I'm also looking for a shallow palate at this phase of the baby exam.
If I determine that the baby has tethered oral tissues, I will refer you and your baby to a dentist for revision.
Think your baby is having any of the above issues? Schedule an online appointment.
What should I expect after my baby's chiropractic exam?
As I always tell parents, babies react pretty "explosively" to chiropractic care. You may see a blow-out diaper, spit-up, or a big nap after chiropractic treatment. Those are all normal, healthy reactions.
With cranial work on the head and palate, it may take some time to see results. Infant cranial work slowly and gently encourages bones to shift to an ideal position. With babies, it's all about being gentle and effective over time.
What can I do at home to keep my baby happy and healthy?
Abdominal massage helps move along any gas in their little digestive system. Breastfeeding moms should consider modifying their diet if allergies are suspected.
Allow your baby tummy-time to build strong neck muscles. Tummy time also helps avoid developing a flat spot at the back of their head.
Where can I learn more about chiropractic for babies?
The International Chiropractic Pediatric Association website has tons of information. You may also want to subscribe to their publication Pathways.