Chiropractic for Infants

A Chiropractor can examine infants and adjust their spine as soon as the day they are born. When a baby’s spine is aligned there is no pressure on the nervous system which allows the body to grow, develop and function at its best.

What is the chiropractor looking for during an infant chiropractic exam?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: Wow, that is a really good question. A chiropractor is always looking for one thing, those misalignments in the spine, which we call vertebral subluxations. Now, in an infant, when we’re doing an exam, one of the things that is so important to know is how the baby was born, so we’re going to actually take a history, and it’s not just about the exam because the baby is really not going to give us a whole lot of information. They can’t tell me where it hurts, if it hurts, or what type of problems they’re having, so the majority of the initial information is going to come from the parent.

We are going to ask questions about the birth, if it was a C-section or if it was a vaginal delivery. And then we ask about the baby’s health and the child’s habits. Are they sleeping well? Are they gaining the weight properly? Are they looking at the alignment? They’re looking for something called plagiocephaly, which are the flattened spots on the head. Are the fontanelles and the alignment of the cranial bones looking good? All these things are very important.

We also ask the parents, when we check the range of motion, if the kids are super fussy when they touch certain areas of the spine, if they touch the neck, or if the baby’s having difficulty turning its head to one side, or only prefers to breastfeed on one side or the other and if you try to turn the baby’s head the other way that it gets fussy or starts to cry. We look at posture in an infant. We examine the gluteal folds and the hips and make sure that they’re all lining up and moving properly. So, it is a pretty detailed exam. It is a little difficult to describe just in words. It’s something that you have to see, but there are orthopedic and neurological tests and chiropractic analysis that are similar to the adult but just more geared towards the infant and child. And then, there are some specific tests and specific examination procedures that we use in the infant as well, but basically, it’s just checking the spine, taking the history, finding out what the complaints are, why the parents are bringing the child in, if it’s just for general health and maintenance to make sure that everything grows straight, or if it is a specific problem that the child might be having.

Who is more likely to need chiropractic care, infants born via C-section or those born vaginally?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That’s a good question too. One thing that I say in my practice, and that I believe and know to be true, is that every person that has a spine should get checked by a chiropractor. I equate what I do kind of like dentistry, where everyone needs to get their teeth checked periodically to make sure that there’s no cavities and that everything’s okay. It’s no different with the spine. It’s made of the same stuff, it degenerates in a similar fashion, and we all know if we care for our teeth a little bit at a time and see a dentist through the course of our lifetime, they are going to last us a lifetime.

The same thing is true with the spine. It is made of similar stuff, it degenerates in a similar fashion, and if you care for your spine, it won’t degenerate and it will last longer. So, if you start checking and caring for a child’s teeth in their infancy to make sure they grow up with healthy, strong teeth, you want to do the same thing with the spine. If an infant was born vaginally or C-section, it makes no difference. They should get checked.

However, kids born with C-sections sometimes can have a little bit of a rougher time. There can be more pressure put on the neck. But sometimes even during a vaginal delivery, the doctor might have to pull the neck, or twist or turn the neck to get the shoulders to turn, and sometimes that can cause a misalignment, or what we call subluxation, in that child’s neck as well. So, it’s very important, whether the child was born vaginally or by C-section, to get that child checked early. Now, most infants and children don’t need a whole lot of care, but it is important to get them checked because, again, a small problem taken care of early can prevent a big problem from becoming more full-blown and a bigger problem later.

How soon can a baby be examined by a chiropractor, and how often should they be treated?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That’s a good question. Well, a baby can be examined by a chiropractor the minute it is born. Most of my colleagues, many of them when they have kids, as soon as the baby comes out and it’s handed to the parents, usually they will check and adjust the spine if necessary. Not every newborn needs to be adjusted, but they should be checked. It doesn’t really matter. Sometimes it might take a little longer if it was a C-section delivery because there are other complications and other health things that need to be cleared, but it is usually when the mom gets around to it, or if they are educated. It’s so important to know that they need to get checked.

How often they need to get checked? I usually recommend, once they’re weight-bearing and starting to walk around, at least once a month. Some kids, if they are having health challenges, we might check a little bit more frequently, but it is always very specific to the individual. But general care, when we do general spine care, we usually recommend about once a month.

How can an infant’s growth and development benefit from chiropractic care?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: I’ve said this many times in many different blogs and posts, but when you really think about it, it is the nerve system that controls every stage of growth and development in the body. When a baby is formed, the sperm and the egg come together and from that this perfect baby develops, so these infants develop from just two cells. There is an intelligence and information that controls that growth, and when that happens and when the baby is born, the same thing. It’s the nerve system that controls and coordinates every stage of growth and development, so making sure there’s no pressure or irritation to the nerve system by clearing out any misalignments of the spine is going to help that baby grow and develop without any complications.

Remember, as the twig is bent, so grows the tree, so if the spine is crooked as the infant is growing, it is going to put pressure on those growth plates and the spine will not grow evenly, and there is a high predilection to see scoliosis in infants and children that have those types of misalignments. When we really look at it, it’s really about the nerve system, and chiropractic, most people think I am a back doctor, but really what we’re affecting is the nerve system, we just use the spine as our avenue of approach.

Can chiropractic care help alleviate colic, ear infections, or other ailments common to infants?

Dr. Gregg Rubinstein: That’s another great question. Chiropractic is a holistic practice, meaning that we are treating the whole body. If a mom brings a baby in who is colicky, well, colic is irritation to the digestive system. These babies are going to be crying, they’re going to be fussy, they might not feed there again, and when they feed they might throw up often and spit up. So, what we look at is we look at the area of the middle spine where those nerves are the ones that if they are misaligned affect the stomach and can cause problems with the stomach. If their nerves that control the stomach are irritated at the spinal level, you’re going to have problems with digestion.

It is so important to understand that chiropractic doesn’t treat specific conditions, it just enhances the overall function of the nerve system, so a holistic practice is really what we’re looking for. We can’t specifically say that I treat ear infections, or other ailments common to infants, but I treat infants that have colic, infants that have ear infections, and if we can improve the overall function of their nerve system, then holistically their body is going to function better, they should be better at fighting these infections and not getting sick. It’s really going to enhance the overall health. The spine, the nerve system, and the immune system are all bolstered when we have proper alignment and proper nerve function. In a nutshell, that’s really what chiropractic does.

It is so much better to try and work with your children holistically rather than giving them medications. I have moms that are bringing in two or three-week-old infants that are already on Prilosec or other like antacids that they’re using off-label to try and treat a colicky baby or a baby who is spitting up too much. I don’t like to see that. I always recommend trying a natural course of action first. If chiropractic can help that baby’s nerve system and right the ship, then everything is going to be great, but if it’s not working, the drugs and other procedures are always there later. But, you know, it’s funny, in the United States, everyone seems to want to turn to the drugs first rather than trying the natural methods of health and healing.

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