Baby not sleeping? Try cranial osteopathy

You may have heard of osteopathy, the complementary system of diagnosis and treatment that works on the body’s framework to relieve pain and musculoskeletal problems. If you’ve ever put your back out, or slept funny and woken up with a stiff neck, chances are that a visit to your local osteopath will have made a huge difference. But did you realise that adults aren’t the only ones who benefit from osteopathic treatment? Babies can too.

What does an osteopath do?
Osteopaths are highly trained to recognise the importance between the structure of the human body and the way it functions – the skeleton, muscles, soft tissues and internal organs. Using a range of soft tissue techniques alongside mobilisation, manipulation, exercises and postural advice, many disorders can be treated. And the potential for helping children is enormous. Why?

It’s a common belief that babies and children shouldn’t have any stresses or strains in their bodies on account of simply being ‘too young’. But consider the fact that birth is one of the most stressful life events as the womb pushes to expel the baby against the natural resistance of the birth canal. As the baby travels through the birth canal to be born, its soft skull is subjected to enormous force.

Cranial osteopathy for young babies
Cranial osteopathy is a specialised part of osteopathy that is particularly suitable for babies and children. It’s a relaxing yet extremely powerful approach that uses gentle pressure and movement to first assess, and then change the movements of the bones of the head, spine and the rest of the body.

“The best time to treat your baby is in the first few weeks after birth – that’s when the unmoulding process of the head is at its most active. That said, it’s never too soon to treat a baby.” - The Westway Clinic

The gentle hands-on treatment encourages the release of stress and tension and activates the body’s natural corrective healing abilities. Non-invasive and drug free, cranial osteopathy is particularly effective in treating babies and young children since their skull bones are not yet fused.

What can be treated?
Many babies have a strange shaped head when they are born, either as a result of intrauterine strain, or from assisted deliveries via forceps or ventouse. They may suffer tense necks and shoulders and an oblong moulded head, issues that normally resolve within the first few days. However, retained tensions anywhere in the head, neck, spine or body can lead to a wealth of symptoms including

• Sleeping disturbances
• Irritability and ‘colic’
• Digestive discomfort
• Difficulty winding
• Ineffective suck mechanism (often with reflux) when feeding
• Plagiocephaly – flat head syndrome

A classic example is tension in the neck or the base of the skull muscles that can make it difficult for the baby to latch onto the breast properly or achieve a strong suck. This may manifest in the baby pulling away from the breast, being colicky on account of taking in too much air, or falling asleep mid-feed.

Cranial osteopathy techniques are particularly good for newborn babies, particularly if the birth has been traumatic. Babies who underwent difficult births that are left unaddressed may go on to experience a wider range of behavioural problems and learning difficulties later on, as well as recurrent colds, coughs and chesty conditions, and problems affecting eyes (squinting, sticky eyes) and ears (glue ear).

When and how long should the treatment take?
An osteopath is likely to recommend an average of three to six treatments, depending on the severity of the problems encountered.

Cranial osteopathy is a perfectly safe treatment and can have extremely effective results. Adverse reactions to osteopathic are rarely seen. In fact, the most commonly observed reaction after a session is that the baby is much more relaxed and sleeps better than normal!

While it is by no means a miracle cure for restless babies, visiting a cranial osteopath can help correct the aches and pains that newborns and young infants often experience in the days and weeks after their birth, but have no way to communicate to you.

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