This month on the blog I wanted to share a new series that I hoped might help mothers in looking after their babies – all about Baby Health. I have organised interviews with a range of health professionals, including a dentist, doctor, paramedic, feeding specialist and podiatrist – but tonight, we are kicking off the series with an interview with two experienced, talented and lovely chiropractors, Lorne and Aisha. They share their insights into chiropractics with babies, signs and symptoms for bad alignments/spines and their top tips for helping you baby’s posture. Grab a cuppa (Enlish Breakfast is in my hand!) and I hope you find this interview helpful x
Hi Lorne and Aisha! Thank you for joining us for our brand new Baby Health Series. Tonight we’ll be looking at the use of chiropractic treatments on babies and children. But before we get into it, could you tell us a bit about yourselves and your Practice?
Having studied together at Macquarie University, we are lucky enough to now share our passion for Chiropractic at a family focused clinic Macquarie Place Chiropractic in Mortdale. Our final year research project was in the field of chiropractic for mums and bubs and Aisha is continuing to research chiropractic for children for a Masters thesis. We both have a huge passion for children with Lorne also teaching gymnastics for kids, volunteering in India to help children through chiropractic and also having a great family friendly working environment catering from newborns to the elderly.
Just to clear the air (as it were), it can be seen as controversial for babies or children of a young age to have chiropractic treatments. Why would you recommend it for children of a young age?
From the day they are born babies are growing, changing, developing and experiencing new things on a daily basis. It is a time of rapid change for their bodies, when it comes to development it is important that this is happening in the correct order and developing the correct patterns. For example gross motor skills, fine motor skills then higher order functions. Progressions through tummy time, crawling and walking create cross pattern development, coordination and the body’s awareness of where it is in space. If there is a restriction in these movements or patterning for example if a baby is unable to turn their neck to one side they would effectively be “missing out” on learning from all of the input coming from that side. The development of the brain requires equal interaction with the environment and many of the ways we interact with the environment is through movement.
For us new mums (and dads), we might not even consider that there would be an issue with our child’s spine or alignment. What are some signs or symptoms we should look for that would indicate that we would need to have our child checked out?
There are many signs and symptoms to look for when considering taking your child to get their spine checked, many things are very simple that you may not even think to consider.
- If they are having difficulty moving in a particular direction (e.g turning their neck to one side, always sleeps with their head turned to one side, can roll to one side but not the other);
- If they are having difficulty feeding to one side;
- Have had an accident, injury or fall (e.g. bump to the head);
- Just generally unsettled with no obvious reason;
- In older children clumsiness, lots of falls, always bumping into things;
- Poor posture from school bags;
- Poor posture from screen time issues;
- Sporting injuries;
- A very common occurrence are children seeing us after their swimming coach or running coach mentions they can’t take a good stroke with their arm on one side or their hips cannot achieve the correct running pattern, there doesn’t always have to be any pain involved.
A common question I’m sure you and your colleagues have come across, is how old would you recommend a baby/child need to be before starting their first chiropractic treatment?
Every baby/ child is different in terms of when they should have their first chiropractic assessment. The youngest we have assessed is 3 days old, straight on the way home from hospital. In these early days we are checking for any misalignments caused by the birth process. Some babies come into this world with a slightly more difficult process than others. Depending on the position they were in during the birth it is good to check any restrictions in their neck, shoulders if they received exceptional strain, any torsion or strain in their spinal system, and their hips especially babies who were breech, amongst lots of other things. In general it is when you feel up to it and especially if you have noticed anything along the lines of the restrictions in movement, feeding etc we mentioned earlier.
What does a chiropractic session look like for a young child/baby? (What does it involve?)
The Chiropractic assessment and treatment for a baby is very different to anything you would experience as an adult. The assessment and treatment if required varies a lot with each age/ stage of development and every chiropractor is slightly different in this regard also. In an assessment of a baby we will check the ranges of motion in their hips, shoulders and each region of their spine (how much movement they have in each direction and any spinal restrictions) we also check for muscle tone and balance between each side of the body and postural alignment between each side of the body and each area also. Depending on the chiropractor we will also check some primitive and postural reflexes that occur at different ages and stages of development. With older children we will check movement patterns and coordination. The treatment if required again varies with the age and stage of the child but in a young baby a treatment may consist of gentle fingertip pressure releases (no more force than the pressure you would place on your eyeball), balancing and mobilisations. In slightly older babies activator tool (which is a low force adjustment tool that has great results with children and elderly) and some activities that sometimes can even seem like a game for the child. You may also be shown some at home exercises, again usually game like activities to help increase tone, range of motion and coordination etc.
Finally, what are your top tips for parents in regards to looking after their child/ren’s spines and alignment?
Our Top Tips for parents when it comes to looking after your child’s spinal health and alignment are:
- For younger babies, the most important thing to consider is to support your child’s age and stage of development. Pushing them to crawl, or walk etc before they are ready may be reducing their development time in certain phases of patterning. This also includes the use of aids and devices that push them past their stage of development, walkers, jumpers and seated upright aids that have them in seated, standing and jumping positions before they are developed for these activities can create lots of strain on their growing spines. Tummy time and play arches that support them using their own ability to reach and grab for toys promote muscle and neurological development
- Posture posture posture posture! This applies to babies as well as older children, again some devices for babies have them sitting too early and creating a “lazy posture” the flexed forward spine and rolled forward shoulders. In older children this includes good desk set up at home for homework, not doing homework on the lounge or bed etc, and a good quality school bag worn properly on both shoulders with good support.
- Get them moving. Limit screen time and be conscious of posture again when using smart devices. Involvement in sports can limit time spent in poor posture and help build good muscle tone and coordination.
Thank you so much for joining us in our first Baby Health interview, Lorne and Aisha! To find out more about their practice at Macquarie Place Chiropractic Centre, visit their website HERE.