Chiropractic Care for Infants

How a chiropractor can help the smallest patients

Grekovs / 

Being born can be traumatic for a new baby’s system. Yes, babies have soft structures and are able to squeeze through the birth canal as they have been doing since the beginning of humanity, however, the process in this day in age is slightly different. We now have tools such as forceps and vacuums, doctors who pull, tug, and manipulate a baby’s head and shoulders to help the process of delivery and speed things up if necessary. Certainly there are some doctors and midwives who allow for a more natural delivery, as long as mom and baby are healthy! But the child and mother’s safety is always priority and if baby needs to come out fast, the professionals need to act quickly and often this can require a little more force. In these cases, you may consider whether chiropractic care might be appropriate for your baby afterward.

Our expert chiropractors, Drs. William and Erin Johnston from Johnston Health Centre in Barrie and North Bay, Ontario, have provided us with some valuable information when it comes to treating newborns, babies, and children through chiropractic care. Together they have two healthy children that they have been adjusting since birth and have seen benefits firsthand for them and all of their tiny patients.

Chiropractic care after birth

Thankfully there are skilled chiropractors that can adjust even the tiniest of babies to ensure that structurally everything is where it should be. For little ones who have had more of a traumatic birth or may be experiencing some challenges such as reflux, seeing a chiropractor can help with their discomfort, pain, and most importantly, to make sure their system is working efficiently. Adjusting a baby is not the same as an adult adjustment. There is no cracking of the bones and forceful manipulating. Infants flexible bodies are not burdened with all of the stressors that adults are and their systems tend to bounce back faster with less force of treatment. 

Most chiropractors will either use their hands or a special instrument called an ArthroStim when working with infants and small children. This instrument uses the body’s own impulses and can fine tune the amount of energy being used. The tip of the arthrostim is about the size of a pencil eraser and can get into even the smallest of spaces, which can be useful when working with little ones. This is the gentlest method to treat an infant, however, an experienced chiropractor can also do relatively the same work with their hands.

How can a chiropractor help?

An experienced chiropractor will do a full investigation of the child’s birth as well as the pregnancy. They will dig deep to ensure they are getting to the root cause of any challenges and fix it at the source. There are numerous challenges that an infant or child may experience either from birth or soon after. These challenges may not appear until later on, however, seeing a chiropractor from the beginning can help you stay on top of any medical issues that may arise as your child develops.

Some of the more common health challenges that pediatric chiropractic care might help with:

  • Reflux
  • Latching challenges with breastfeeding
  • Colic
  • Digestion issues of all kinds
  • Constipation
  • Irritable bowel
  • Gas
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Breathing issues
  • Bladder - bedwetting with older children
  • Immune system support

How does adjustment help?

Being adjusted using a very gentle technique can help reset the system and heal from health challenges or trauma their body may have undergone. From a structural standpoint it can help bring back proper alignment and can free up joint motion if there are restrictions. Although most babies have a soft structure with pretty loose joints, some babies, depending on their position in utero and the actual birth itself, may need help loosening those joints and tight areas within the body.   

There are a lot of chiropractors who will focus on cranial sacral treatments to help with head positioning. Babies who were born with the use of forceps or vacuum, or based on their position in utero, may have a misshapen head or a condition known as torticollis ("wry neck"). By using either their instrument or their hands, a trained professional can gently shift things back into proper position. 

Digestion challenges seem to be quite prominent with little ones these days. As parents, we never want to see our children in discomfort or pain. Whether they suffer from reflux, gas, asthma, breathing challenges, or skin issues, the chiropractor will work on finding areas of misalignment. There will also be a focus on the diet. All of these challenges are closely connected to food and what the child is eating or what mom is eating while breastfeeding.

How often should you see a chiropractor?

The number of times you will need to see your chiropractor depends on the individual challenges. Some children may only need a visit or two while others may need numerous visits over a period of time. It really depends on the severity of the challenges and the body’s ability to improve and heal.

Individual care is so important and a quality chiropractor will want to make sure your child is at their very best before sending you off. Check in visits every few months are a great idea to maintain a healthy family. Dr.William Johnston

How do you find the chiropractor that is right for your family?

It is important to ask questions when finding the chiropractor you are trusting with your family’s health. Knowing whether or not they treat children and babies on a regular basis will be key. Search your local health authority listings to get started. Asking if they are comfortable working with your child’s age group and if they are confident in helping with your individual challenges will be just as important. Having a good rapport with your provider and trusting their opinion will also help when entrusting them with your infant or child’s health.

*Originally published September 26, 2018