This is one of the most frequently asked questions in our office, especially when patients see doctors adjusting a newborn or small child. The truth is that there are many reasons why babies and kids need adjusting. The sweeping reason is because, like adults, they experience trauma that causes their joints to work improperly. The difference is that children adapt much better and do not degenerate. However, like a sapling that is not staked to grow straight into a healthy tree, the consequences can set a child up for problems in adulthood.
The most common reason we adjust infants is due to digestive issues. The term “colicky” comes from the same root as colon. Infants cry and scream for long and unbearable periods of time because of gas or some other digestive issue. If you have had a child with colic, you know how miserable it can be for everyone involved.
With colicky infants, adjusting the pelvis and low back calms down the sympathetic nervous system which stimulates the parasympathetic. The parasympathetic nervous system controls digestion and works opposite the sympathetic nervous system. When this happens, babies are typically constipated and gassy. Our doctors warn parents that after the first adjustment or two, they should plan for a “blow out.” If you are a new parent and your child has always been a little constipated, a “blow out” is where the diaper cannot contain the mess.
Another common reason we adjust babies is because they are having a difficult time nursing. Usually, they are uncomfortable feeding on one breast or the other due to a restriction in the neck. Nursing mothers will tell you that there is not much that is more uncomfortable than a full breast and a hungry baby that refuses to nurse from it. Such a scenario can also cause mastitis also known as a breast infection. A gentle neck adjustment will help the baby move her neck freely and comfortably nurse.
As for kids, if they are like most young children, they can do some wild things that cause trauma to the spine. For example, jumping off the back of the couch and missing all the pillows they positioned to break their fall. I check her regularly to make sure everything is adjusted properly. We often adjust children with asthma flare ups due to allergies. This helps to drain the sinuses but also frees the ribs allowing them to breath better. Adjustments also help to regulate the immune system.
Here’s a specific list of things Chiropractors are known for treating in youth:
Help with breastfeeding
Physical developmental delays
Developmental milestones: begin to hold up head, sitting, crawling, walking
Not feeling themselves