How chiropractic can help your crying baby

We can help your crying baby

A common challenge that most new parents experience is an unsettled, crying baby.  It is hard enough to care for a healthy tiny human, but it takes an incredible amount of energy and patience to deal with them when they are uncomfortable and unwell.  As a Chiropractor, I know that chiropractic adjustments can go a long way in helping your unsettled, crying baby, but how does it work?

A newborn grows at an immense rate.  This means that they direct all focus towards feeding, digesting and sleeping. When this goes wrong, havoc ensues and your once angelic human is now red-faced, screaming and incredibly uncomfortable.

The Brain/Body Connection

Do you know the feeling when you have just eaten a big Sunday family roast?  You may notice that more saliva and digestive enzymes are produced;  your heart rate lowers and you feel slow and sleepy.  Humans rely on a part of the nervous system called the “Parasympathetic Nervous System” to be able to change their body into a “Rest and Digest” state.  The main purpose of your body is to grow and adapt, so you really need your Parasympathetic Nervous System to work properly!  When there is interference to this part of the nervous system, it constantly believes that it’s in a state of “fight or flight”… not an ideal state for digesting and sleeping for infants!

Infants that struggle to access the Parasympathetic Nervous System will only be able to sleep for short periods of time.  Even then, their sleep will not be very deep.  They may have an overactive fright response and their digestion will be altered and inefficient.  This leads to some of the following symptoms:

  • Inconsolable crying for hours per day, particularly in the late afternoon and evening
  • A distended abdomen
  • Legs are flexed up and hands held in tight fists because of discomfort
  • The infant may seek comfort through frequent feeding and for longer periods
  • They may arch their back and pull away from the breast
  • Reflux may be excessive or even sometimes projectile
  • Short term relief is gained by being held, rocked or using a dummy
  • You may notice an uneven head shape beginning to develop

How specific and gentle paediatric chiropractic can help

Chiropractors assess the intricate functioning of the skull and spine and its relation to the central nervous system.  When there is an interference to the movement of the skull or vertebrae at specific points, it disrupts the nervous system and inhibits its function.  We call these points Subluxations.  The Parasympathetic Nervous System is mostly housed in the skull, upper neck and pelvis.  It is very common to find subluxations in these parts of the body that lead to an increased “fight or flight” response and thus an unsettled, crying baby.  These subluxations are often due to intra-uterine constraint or physical stress during the birth process.

We use light fingertip pressure to remove interferences

Our aim is to allow the body to function as it should, so to clarify, I am not pressing on special sleeping and eating “buttons”, but instead removing the interference that is hindering the baby to do those natural and normal things!  Even after years of practice, I am still constantly surprised about the small amount of input it requires to change a screaming and unhappy baby into a relaxed and happy one!

A number of studies have been done about the effect and effectiveness of chiropractic adjustments on irritable infants.  The beauty is that Chiropractic care is natural and drug-free, enabling a child to grow and evolve naturally.  One of my favourite long-term studies shows that children that were under Chiropractic care as infants, ended up having fewer temper tantrums and sleeping through better at night 2 to 3 years later, sure signs of a happy nervous system!

The sooner the better

The longer we live with restrictions in our nervous systems and bodies, the more we will create compensatory patterns for them.  A child might become used to abnormal sleeping patterns and because of inefficient digestion, the GUT microflora might change.  It usually takes an adult a lot longer to get better because their nervous systems are so ingrained with compensatory patterns.  That is partly why we as Chiropractors really enjoy helping babies and children.  We know how much better their lives will be in the long term.

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