People often ask us, Osteopaths, what kind of patients we see, the usual response is young adults, middle-aged, elderly and athletes; all of which are usually met with a nod. However, when we tell people we treat babies and young children we are often met with a look of shock and questions such as “how do you treat babies?” “I never even knew osteopaths could do that”.
Osteopaths are trained to treat people of all ages, including babies and young children. All Osteopaths must complete 4 years of undergraduate training, this includes a number of paediatric modules and paediatric clinical training. Many osteopaths also opt to specialise in paediatric osteopathy, for which they do postgraduate qualifications at the OCC (osteopathic centre for children) or other specialist courses.
But how do you treat them?
Osteopathy is based on the principle “structure governs function”, so for every change in structure, there is an equal and opposite change in functioning. We believe that if the structure (including bones, muscles, fascia, tendons or ligaments) is not balanced and healthy, then the body cannot function efficiently. This is the case for all patients, including babies – your osteopath will use this principle to help direct their treatment plan.
On your first visit the osteopath will take a thorough medical history, asking questions about presenting symptoms, life events, and your family medical history. After this, they will assess your babies’ posture and look for any signs of ‘dysfunction’ within their structure that could be affecting their overall wellbeing. Once they have identified areas of ‘dysfunction’, which could be anything from tight muscles to skeletal compression, they will begin treatment.
Babies’ skeletons are softer and more malleable than adults, therefore Osteopaths use very gentle techniques such as cranial, gentle soft tissue and non-manipulative mobilisation, in order to help soothe and relax your baby. All techniques used to treat babies and young children are safe, gentle and non-manipulative.
At the end of the session, you will then be given self-management advice and exercise techniques to use at home in order to encourage improvement.
So if you’re interested in your baby, infant or child receiving osteopathic treatment, give your local osteopath a call and they can talk you through any queries you may have. We are here to help you.
What can I take away from this article?
- Osteopaths are trained to treat people of all ages, including babies and young children.
- Many osteopaths complete specialist courses in paediatric osteopathy.
- Osteopathy is a gentle, safe treatment suitable for children and babies.