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As an Osteopath and Biodynamic Cranial Sacral Therapist (BCST), one of my greatest passions is to help babies settle into their life here on Earth. For several reasons, babies, infants and toddlers can be struggling to be balanced and settled, and this can pose difficulties not only for them, but for their families and carers. 

So why are babies coming to osteopaths and cranial sacral therapists for bodywork?
Babies are coming to us because they are uncomfortable in their bodies. Parents, carers, family and friends and other health practitioners may have identified abnormal movement patterns or can see and hear that the baby is unhappy. This may be expressed by the baby as excessive crying, gas, reflux, colic, torticollis, feeding difficulties, oral ties, difficulties with sleep, altered head, body and limb movements and shapes.

As a therapist, working with babies, infants and toddlers, we need to be flexible in our handling and help them find the most comfortable position for them to release the stresses and strains they present to us. This means modifying our work. Treating them in the arms of a parent, on our laps, on the treatment table, whilst feeding at the breast or bottle, scooping them up and consoling them whilst walking around the room; as we assist them on their healing journey. We need to give them enough bodywork to be effective, and also just enough that they can handle.

Whilst this work is gentle, honoring, and heart centered, our babies cry release, feel, and express. As therapists, we hold that space for them, reassuring them that they are safe by being a gentle presence. Oftentimes, it helps a baby work through their frustration and tears; calming and relaxing them as their body releases its tension. It is not our job to distract them from what they are feeling, or repeatedly ask them to feel less and to express less. Hearing them out, holding the space and letting them emote; it’s all part of the body’s innate way to release. Our babies worked hard to get here.

They are entitled to their own feelings about that process. And as they cannot process with their words, but we can let them do that with their tears. They are inevitably going to have their own feelings, thoughts, and opinions as to how things have been going earth side thus far. It is our job as a therapist, to continue to learn how to listen more wholly more deeply more compassionately; to be present and patient, and let baby lead the session.

Connecting with babies, infants and toddlers when we work with them is so important. It’s important, but it’s easy to miss. When we don’t connect by smiling into their faces, and talking to them, our work becomes perfunctory. We are then just working day in and day out with no compass to find the extraordinary in each individual. When working with them, one of the easiest things we can do is to be present, to connect, and to follow. It’s very helpful to meet them where they are, and modify our work to fit their needs.

When working with babies, infants and toddlers the therapist can identify if they are stiff, tight and/ or uncomfortable they in their bodies. There can be many reasons for this, but whether it has originated from in-utero restriction, birth trauma, environmental trauma or even oral ties, the problem can be helped significantly by giving them more opportunity to move their bodies! Parents and caters need to get them out of the car seat, get them out of the swing, get them out of the swaddle, and even make sure they have time away from baby wearing. Allow them to move naturally, to strengthen the pectoral girdle and their core, to move their head from side to side, to reach and adjust, and to learn how to get themselves comfortable. If a baby hasn’t had a lot of opportunity to move their body freely, the area in and around their rib cage can become rigid and therefore lack the flexibility it needs to be able to digest food efficiently, or to move gas out when they need to.

On many occasions it may be well worth bringing mum and sometimes even dad into the treatment session and putting our hands on them. Giving birth, by which ever means, is a feat in itself and helping mum in her recovery, can be very beneficial. In some instances, a little helping hand to regulate the nervous system of a parent, will directly result in a more regulated nervous system for the baby. This in turn will see a more calm and content baby as their system will function more efficiently. Furthermore, when working with young families, embracing the dynamics can actually enhance our work. Having an older sibling interact and entertain baby during the session can help create a safer haven for the baby; allowing a deeper release and greater regulation to their nervous system.

At birth, babies can exhibit postures established during formation (embryogenesis), due to positioning in the womb, and due to their birthing experience. Cranial sacral therapy and osteopathy can help bring balance and harmony to their body and allow them to work through any postures that may be limiting their full potential. 

Whether or not you have any concerns about your baby after delivery, an assessment and treatment by an osteopath and or cranial sacral therapist can help bring balance and harmony to their system; allow the release of any tensions acquired during formation, in-utero life, from the birth experience, post partum and the years following that.

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