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Check most books and magazines on newborn care, and chances are that you will not find any mention of chiropractic care for these tiny humans. Many parents are actually apprehensive of having their child’s tiny spine manipulated. Besides, what one-month-old ever complained of a backache anyway? Even so, increasing evidence points to a surprising number of benefits of infant chiropractic care to include relief from colic, constipation and poor feeding.

An inconsolable colicky baby screaming (Image credit: deltaMike)

Why is it needed?

Most people think of chiropractic care as something good for people with traumatic injuries: falls, car accidents, and the like. Adults are common recipients of spinal manipulation because they complain of back or neck pain. Few people realize, however, the trauma caused by birth. Squeezing down the narrow passage of the birth canal puts a great deal of strain on a child’s spinal cord, the home of the entire nervous system. While every child undergoes this strain, there are a number of factors that can increase the trauma such as a breech birth; the use of suction cups to speed up birth; a fast, hard delivery and even delivery by c-section (1).

Pressure from birth can cause spinal misalignment. A small misalignment of the spine in an infant can have serious impacts on the body through the nervous system. In babies, these misalignments affect basic bodily functions such as sleep, eating and elimination (2). Although there is not enough research to create concrete evidence, many doctors now believe that issues such as colic, poor feeding habits, sleeplessness and even reflux in babies may be the result of misalignment.

2 week old girl getting a gentle finger adjustment as her mother looks on(Image credit: Gardner Chiropractic)

What can it help?

Do a quick search on YouTube, and you are sure to find a multitude of videos like this one with varying degrees of inconsolable crying, back arching and sleeplessness. Caring for a colicky child is both heart-wrenching and exhausting, yet more and more chiropractors and doctors are discovering that there may actually be help for the colicky child – chiropractic care (3). Even the major news channels are picking up on this new phenomenon, highlighting the stories of babies like 2-month-old Lily in Minnesota who was able to relax and sleep after just a couple treatments of fingertip adjustments (4). The idea behind infant spinal manipulation is that it relieves unnecessary pressure from a child’s nervous system.

Adjusting a 2 year old boy with an Activator (Image credit: Gardner Chiropractic)

The actual process may seem like almost nothing – gentle pressure with the fingertips – but the results can be life-changing. Although chiropractors will not make claims to cure any particular disorder, many parents have noticed freedom from colic symptoms, improved eating and better elimination. Some even believe that chiropractic care helps with issues such as ear infections (5). Mothers have been amazed by the improvement in breastfeeding habits and their baby just being happier. This may be due to relief from pain that caused the baby to only feel comfortable when feeding on a certain side.

Where can I find it?

A simple Internet search will reveal many links to discussions on pediatric chiropractic care. Forums allow parents to share the effects spinal adjustments have had on their babies.

While every city has it’s own chiropractor (or perhaps more!), pediatric chiropractors are harder to find. As awareness grows, finding a good chiropractor becomes easier; word of mouth recommendations become the best source of information. If all else fails, you can also turn to every-faithful Google to help you find a chiropractor in your area for your infant.

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