When I first heard about the idea of chiropractic care for infants, I have to admit that it made me uncomfortable. Personally, I love going to the chiropractor. There’s something so satisfying about getting cracked and realigned that I always feel like I walk out a couple inches taller.
But chiropractic care for a newborn? I couldn’t quite wrap my head around it, so I called up chiropractic specialist Dr. Bob Griesse at HealthSource of Fairlawn in Akron, Ohio, and asked him to enlighten me.
“There are a couple of common misconceptions about newborn chiropractic care,” Dr. Griesse explained. “The first one is that people think it’s dangerous, which is really a larger misunderstanding about what chiropractors do in general being dangerous.”
It’s true. I’ve spoken to plenty of people who refuse chiropractic care because they’re worried about getting paralyzed or otherwise hurt by a chiropractor. In fact, chiropractic services are incredibly safe, with over 27 million Americans each year receiving care.
To illustrate the safety, consider that medical malpractice insurance costs between $10,000 and $200,000 a year, depending on a doctor’s specialty. Dr. Griesse’s insurance? “It costs significantly less. If chiropractors were really hurting people, I’d be paying much more,” he says.
When we’re talking about infants, it’s also helpful to remember that their bones are softer and more able to rebound than adult bones, which actually makes it safer to adjust them. To get an idea of how this works, take a moment to bend your ear. Because it’s cartilaginous, it bounces back to its original shape easily and without any pain. A baby’s bones work similarly.
Which brings us to the next common misconception: that newborn chiropractic care is unnecessary. After all, if their bones are still forming, why worry about adjusting them?
“When a baby is born, they’re asked to put their head through something that’s smaller than their head, which naturally compresses the spine and neck,” says Dr. Griesse. “Torticollis, or spasm of the neck muscles, is common in babies, with one of the main causes being difficulty during birth. Gentle chiropractic adjustment helps to align the joints properly to minimize spasms and potential issues down the road.”
One of the reasons I love getting adjusted is also because I feel calmer when I leave. Dr. Griesse says there’s a reason for this. “Proper alignment optimizes the function of the nervous system, which puts us into a parasympathetic mode rather than a sympathetic, fight-or-flight one.”
Infants spend a high percentage of their time in sympathetic mode since everything is bright, loud, and new. Helping them to transition to a calmer rest-and-digest state of being enforces positive neural pathways and can even improve digestion, as the nervous system controls the digestive system.
Before you take your baby to any chiropractor, it’s important to ask them in advance if they have experience treating infants. You can also inquire about their certifications and ask about the Logan Basic Technique, which is a common type of adjustment around the sacrum and base of the spine.
Dr. Griesse says getting chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy can also help ease the delivery process, which makes labor less stressful for mom and baby. We know that poor deliveries are associated with a wide range of health conditions in children, so consider adding a chiropractor to your prenatal birth team. Your baby’s future back will thank you.