Why bring my baby to an osteopath?
Paediatric Osteopathy

Why Bring My Baby To An Osteopath?

Written by Hannah Hilton

This is a question I get all the time! Osteopathy is a form of manual therapy that uses gentle techniques to improve the body’s mobility and function.

Cranial osteopathy can be especially beneficial for babies in a variety of ways, here are a few:

  • Feeding issues
  • Before and after a tongue tie procedure
  • Restricted neck movement (torticollis)
  • Flathead (plagiocephaly or brachycephaly)
  • General check-up after birth

There is no age restriction for osteopathy, especially cranial osteopathy, as it is very gentle and involves stretching muscles and moving joints, all within a comfortable range. The youngest I have seen in the clinic is currently 3 days old and they slept the whole way through treatment!

Feeding issues 

How does a baby feed from the breast or bottle?

How does a baby feed effectively? 

Let’s break down what’s involved:

  • Body in a straight line
  • Head aligned with body and slightly tipped back
  • Relaxed shoulders
  • Wide open mouth with flared lips (not tucked in)
  • Nipple or teat securely latched to the roof of the mouth
  • Good seal created with lips and tongue
  • Tongue wave-like motion to draw milk in
  • Coordinating sucking, swallowing and breathing

That’s a lot for a newborn to manage, especially during feeds that can last up to 45 minutes! It’s no wonder some babies get tired, struggle to latch properly, or fall asleep quickly.

Signs of feeding difficulties:

  • Trouble latching or pain for mom
  • Shallow latch on one or both sides
  • Frequent need for different feeding positions
  • Dribbling milk due to poor seal
  • Clicking sounds while feeding (losing latch with tongue)
  • Difficulty swallowing or coughing/spluttering
  • Too little or too much weight gain
  • Excess wind – grunting, red-faced, squirming, won’t be put down
  • Sleep issues

Before and after the tongue tie procedure – how can it help?

The tongue is connected to other parts of the body. A frenulotomy (tongue tie procedure) aims to improve tongue movement and reduce tension throughout the body, not just the mouth.

Babies with tongue-tie feeding difficulties may compensate by tightening muscles in the cheeks, lips, jaw, tongue, and shoulders. This can also lead to increased gas and fussiness.

An osteopath can help reduce tension before and after a frenulotomy to optimise feeding, mobility, and function for your baby.

Neck restriction – torticollis

Does your baby have a preferred side when turning their head?

Torticollis can limit neck range of motion and cause asymmetry in the neck muscles, tilting the head to one side or making it difficult to turn. It can be caused by positioning in the womb, labour complications, or interventions like forceps or C-section.

Symptoms may resolve within a month but often become more noticeable around 6-8 weeks when babies start gaining head control. If this sounds familiar, it is advised to start treatment as soon as you can to help improve neck function and limit head shape changes.

How can torticollis affect my baby?

  • Feeding: Difficulty latching, shallow latch, discomfort for mum, needing different positions, dribbling, clicking sounds, swallowing problems. 
  • Milestones: While torticollis won’t prevent reaching milestones, it may affect muscle development and lead to uneven strength on one side. This can impact rolling, sitting, and overall balance. Early intervention is crucial for healthy growth and motor development.

Head flattening (plagiocephaly and brachycephaly)

Flat head syndrome is a flattening of one or both sides of a baby’s head. It’s often caused by prolonged pressure on a specific area, due to sleeping or holding positions, or spending too much time on the back. It can be linked to torticollis or muscle tightness, but also factors like prematurity, restricted movement in the womb, or breech presentation.

Cranial osteopathy can help by gently freeing up compressed head bones and addressing surrounding muscle and joint tension. It can also assess and encourage motor milestones like rolling to ensure proper development.

Here are some ways to reduce the risk of flat head:

  • Reposition your baby when lying down (turn away from the flattened side)
  • Move toys to different places to encourage turning
  • Alternate crib positions (head/feet)
  • Reposition during holding (avoid a favourite side)
  • Tummy time
  • Gentle stretches

If you’re concerned about any of the issues mentioned above, or if your baby simply needs a check-up, osteopathy can be a valuable option to assess your baby’s individual needs and create a treatment plan to promote their health and well-being

Book today with Hannah Hilton, your specialist paediatric osteopath.

Are You Ready To Experience The Difference?

Take the first step towards improved health and well-being. Contact The Olive Clinic in Warrington today to schedule your appointment.

Your health and the health of your family are our top priorities, and we’re honoured to be your partners on this journey to wellness.