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Babies & Children

All osteopaths at Holistic Osteopathy use cranial osteopathy when treating babies and infants and a combination of cranial osteopathy and general osteopathy when treating toddlers and older children. Our practitioners  are highly trained in the use of non-invasive and non-manipulative techniques that only use very gentle touch on your baby or child. Light pressure is applied to specific areas of the body in order to release strain or tension that may be causing pain or discomfort in your child.

Most children are comfortable sitting or lying on the treatment table. If your baby or toddler isn’t comfortable on the table we can also treat them feeding, sitting on your lap, or playing on the floor with toys – have a chat with your practitioner to determine which option is best for your child.

Cranial Osteopathy is a non-invasive, non-manipulative and extremely gentle approach to treatment. Whilst watching your child be treated you will likely see your practitioner gently place their hands on specific areas of your baby’s body in order to release strain or tension that may be causing pain or discomfort in your child. When treating babies and young children our osteopaths use very light pressure and will never use any form of joint manipulation or heavy forms of massage.

Although you do not need a referral to come and see an osteopath we often receive referrals from GP’s, Maternal Child Health Nurses, Lactation Consultants, Paediatric Occupational Therapists, Dietitians and Paediatricians and will refer on to these practitioners when appropriate so that your child obtains the best care for their condition.

Parents seek osteopathic care for many different reasons

All of the osteopaths at Holistic Osteopathy who treat babies and children have undertaken further post-graduate training in the fields of paediatric osteopathy and cranial osteopathy.

Please note that by providing osteopathic care we are not claiming to cure any of the conditions listed on this page. As osteopaths we are simply aiming to remove any physical strain or tension in the body that may help relieve some symptoms associated with these conditions.

Although many people choose to use osteopathic health care for their children it’s important to mention that like many other manual therapies, at this point in time there is very limited evidence demonstrating the efficiency of osteopathic treatment for babies and children. Holistic Osteopathy supports ongoing research in all fields of Osteopathy and we welcome any opportunity to be a part of future projects so that we can help add to the body of growing research in this area. More information about current osteopathic research can be found on our research page.

Babies

Birth is a natural part of life; yet it is a process that can exert an immense amount of physical strain on the mother and baby. When born head first, the bones in your baby’s skull are extremely flexible and will often bend or overlap one another when passing through the birth canal which can result in an abnormal head shape immediately after birth. In most instances the head will naturally revert back to a more rounded shape in the first few days after birth as the baby begins to suck and cry but in some cases this process is incomplete resulting in parents noticing their baby has a misshapen head or abnormal twist through their baby’s torso or legs.  

A very long or short labour, caesarean delivery, breech presentation or intervention involving the use of forceps or vacuum extraction are all common reasons why many parents choose to bring their new baby in for an assessment. Our cranial osteopaths are highly experienced when it comes to treating infants and will conduct a thorough assessment of your baby to determine if there are any musculoskeletal strains or restrictions that may be affecting your baby.

Some of the symptoms that may indicate discomfort in a newborn include:

  • Unexplained unsettledness or irritability
  • Continuous crying
  • Excessive wind
  • Colic
  • Constipation or straining with bowel motions
  • Feeding difficulties (difficulty attaching or showing a preference to feed from one side)
  • Head favouring one side
  • Asymmetry in the hips, legs and feet

Our osteopaths may also be able to help manage the musculoskeletal components associated with the following conditions which at this stage have limited research:

 

  • Torticollis (wry neck) & Misshapen Heads (flat spots or plagiocephaly) In line with other health professionals in Victoria our osteopaths follow the conventional practice guidelines from the Royal Children’s Hospital for plagiocephaly and torticollisNewborn babies have soft and flexible bones that easily change shape when exposed to external forces. Flattening in one area may occur in the uterus during pregnancy, during birth or if the baby lays with his or her head in the same position for a long period of time (The Royal Children’s Hospital – Plagiocephaly – misshapen head, 2010). In these circumstances, our osteopaths will assess your baby for any postural asymmetry throughout their body, utilise specific positioning techniques during the treatment and prescribe specific counter-positioning exercises for improving neck flexibility at home.
  • Postural & Movement Imbalances As your child grows you may notice asymmetry in the way they move, sit, stand or sleep. This can occur in any part of the body and includes a preference to turn the head to one side, a preference to bend the whole body to one side, favouring one arm or leg over the other or dragging one foot or arm whilst crawling and walking. In these instances our osteopaths will assess your the movement of your child’s joints and muscles and treat any areas of concern. In many instances take home exercises are also prescribed.
  • Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding Difficulties (Including pre and post tongue & lip tie release) Optimal movement and positioning of the upper neck, jaw, tongue, cheeks and lips are all important factors feeding. Our osteopaths will look at how well these areas are able to move and whether there is any strain or tension that needs to be released in the muscles and joints surrounding these areas that may help make feeding more comfortable for both mother and baby. We also receive many referrals from lactation consultants for help releasing muscle and joint strains related to pre and post tongue tie procedures.
  • Reflux & Colic Osteopaths may be able to help with the musculoskeletal components of colic and reflux by releasing strain or tension in the upper back, upper neck, rib cage and muscles of the abdomen that are sometimes associated with reflux and colic. Postural advice and exercises for home may also be prescribed. Both these conditions are considered multifactorial in nature and therefore as osteopaths we are not claiming to cure either condition.

Toddlers & Older Children

Conditions we commonly see in toddlers and older children:

  • Physical Injuries from falls or accidents
  • Asymmetric walking or crawling patterns
  • Headaches
  • Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
  • Postural Imbalance
  • Feet turning in or out.
  • Sporting Injuries
  • Back pain and neck pain

Response to Treatment

Every child is unique and so is their response to treatment. In most instances the baby or child is very relaxed following a treatment and will often sleep very soundly that night. In some cases parents report a sense of energy and vibrancy about their child prior to having a good night’s sleep. Sometimes your baby or child may demonstrate signs of being unsettled for 24-48 hours post treatment whilst they adjust to the changes in their body. As always, our friendly osteopaths are always happy to help with any questions or concerns you may have so please don’t hesitate to contact us any time!