Paediatric Osteopathy – what is it, and why would my baby need to see an osteo?

Let’s talk paediatric osteopathy – the treatment of infants and toddlers. A lot of people don’t know that osteos are able to treat infants and toddlers.

Firstly we need to begin by saying, that in order to be able to treat infants extensive specific training is required. Babies aren’t just little humans – they have different reflexes and different bones and joints. (Fun fact: your wrist is made up of eight small bones called the carpal bones. When you’re born you haven’t gone any of these bones yet, they’re only cartilage. You start to develop approximately one carpal bone a year until the final eighth bone develops around the age of 8-12!).

Our osteopaths Loz, Megan, Simmone and Sarah have all undertaken further study in order to be able to treat infants and toddlers. In paediatric osteo there is no cracking or manipulation, no stretching or traction, and it is completely gentle. Often when we’re treating little ones, it looks like we’re not doing much at all – they don’t need much pressure at all!


Why would a baby need osteopathic treatment?

Whether it’s a quick labour, a long and strenuous labour, a vaginal delivery or caesarian section, the birthing process can place a lot of force and pressures onto a baby. The times when we would see a baby for osteopathic treatment usually stems from one of two things: an intrauterine strain or a birthing strain.

Intrauterine strains – occur when bubs has been cramped in the uterus, or hasn’t moved much during the pregnancy and their bodies have been in a certain position for a long time (even more prevalent in twins or triplets due to the lack of space in the uterus). This may lead to them being born in a bit of a c-shape curve where they’re side-bent to one side. This can lead to difficulties with burping or passing wind, lead to them not enjoying being flat on their back or not enjoying tummy time, not feeding optimally off one breast, or reflux and colic. This is because this c-shape curve can cause some stiffness and tension through their back which hinders these actions.

Birthing strains – occur during the delivery process. Things that lead to birthing strains include a very quick delivery where there isn’t the nice repetitive squeeze and relax of the uterus to move bubs into the birth canal. Another, is a slow and strenuous labour where bubs being pushed up against the pelvis repetitively. Birthing strains can also occur with a caesarian-section delivery, especially in the case of an emergency c-section where bubs is already engaged in the pelvic bowl and has to be manoeuvred through the pelvis then out through the c-section incision.

What impact does this have on bubs, and would lead them to requiring osteopathic treatment?

These situations above can lead to different presentations in bubs, which we will go into more detail in our upcoming emails over next month.

  • Flat spots and neck favouring – caused by tension or tightness in bubs’ neck and upper back
  • Colic, reflux or digestive upsets – contributed by tension or tightness in bubs’ upper to mid back
  • Developmental hip dysplasia or immature hip joints – usually due to lack of space in utero
  • Latching and feeding difficulties – caused by tension in neck and jaw, could also be caused by forceps delivery
  • Sleeping difficulties and unsettledness – caused by recent growth spurts leading to tension in mid-upper back

Our osteopaths will always give parents things to do from home to help their baby. Burping techniques is something we always get asked about because it can be hard! Especially in really young babies who haven’t got established core muscles and have immature digestive systems. Have a look at this video from our osteopath Simmone, showing you some different burping techniques!


If you have any further questions about paediatric osteopathy give us a call at the clinic on (03) 9773 8085 or book an appointment online.

Have a great week!

Bec @ Total Balance Healthcare


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This blog post is an educational tool only.  It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.

Phone: (03) 9773 8085

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