So, you’re thinking about taking your baby to see an osteopath. Perhaps someone recommended it or perhaps you’ve read about osteopathic treatment for babies. Either way, most people in your position aren’t entirely clear what the treatment is actually going to involve. And even after a visit, some people are left asking what exactly the treatment involved because they couldn’t really see anything happening.
Although babies are obviously smaller and more fragile than your average adult, this has very little effect on treatment. The same techniques can be used whatever your size or age, and there’s no specific way of working that has to be used exclusively for those of us in nappies.
Having said that, there are techniques which are more effective than others for the younger ones, and which tend to be favoured by most practitioners. But there is no set routine to go through, as every baby is different and needs a tailored approach suited to their specific issue.
What’s cranial osteopathy?
When treating babies, an osteopath will often concentrate on the head and neck area. This is where most issues can be traced to, and therefore where most treatment is aimed. It’s also why most practitioners use what are known as ‘cranial osteopathic techniques’.
This treatment approach is based on looking at the movement of the bones of the skull, and aims to influence that with gentle pressure on certain areas. It is a very subtle approach, and from the outside it can look as if nothing is happening!
Using one or both hands on areas of the head or neck, gentle pressure is applied through the fingers into areas that feel tight or uncomfortable, and motion is guided into areas that feel more relaxed and looser.
This is a popular treatment that most (if not all) practitioners will use for babies as it is gentle and can be quite relaxing. It’s also good for not disturbing those patients who fall asleep when mummy brings them in!
Other effective osteopathic treatment techniques
Although cranial osteopathy is popular, it’s by no means the only way to treat your baby. More direct approaches to the joints and muscles can also be used. Gentle soft tissue massage and articulation of arms and legs, as well as the spine, can all help to settle tight areas or ease restricted movement.
Other techniques developed by A T Still (the founder of osteopathy) offer an effective way of working directly onto joints using an arm or leg to influence movement. This is ideal for babies, as it can focus into areas of the spine or joints which are usually much smaller and delicate than they are on adults.
Trying to focus into specific areas with a fidgety baby can be tricky, but using these techniques allows more control and focus. It is a simple movement, taking the arm or leg around in a circle to influence the spine, pelvis or ribs. Although developed by A T Still, these techniques are not largely known or used, despite their usefulness and effectiveness.
Simple stretching can also be very useful. Treating any strains that babies often retain from the womb can often be effectively treated with simple stretches away from the rotation. It can be likened to ‘straightening them out’ – gentle traction and stretching through the spine can help to loosen muscles and re-balance joints, helping to settle posture.
These techniques are not the only ones that will be used, but are the main approaches that you can expect to see. Each treatment is individual to your baby, as they will have an individual problem, so you may see all, some or none of those mentioned here, but you can rest assured that they treatment used will be appropriate and effective.
If you are have any further questions regarding osteopathic treatment for your baby, please contact us on 01444 360359 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org