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How does osteopathy for babies and children work?

Osteopathy for babies

Osteopathy for babies and children is a very safe and extremely gentle treatment. Conditions that often present to our osteopaths include unsettledness, gastric reflux, middle ear infections, paediatric asthma, and sleep disorders -- amongst others. However, osteopathic care is not just for ‘sick’ children but also ideal for general well-being, health maintenance, and illness prevention.

What does the osteopath actually do?

The osteopath’s role in the care of children is to remove physical tension from the body, which may contribute to an array of different symptoms that commonly present in infancy and childhood. Osteopathic treatment aims to facilitate healthy function in all areas of newly born and growing bodies by freeing up muscles and joints, improving blood flow and maintaining postural balance.

With babies and children, the osteopath only needs to use a very light touch and gentle movement. The osteopath may sit with their hands gently holding the baby’s head or pelvis for several minutes at a time using only very subtle movements. At other times, the baby may be held or positioned in specific ways to gently bring about balance in the body. The osteopath uses no more pressure that is typically used when holding or dressing a baby.


What is ‘cranial osteopathy’ and how does it help babies?

Cranial osteopathy for babies is a very gentle form of osteopathic care that involves the osteopath gently cradling the baby’s head, base of the spine, or any other part of the body in order to gently feel, and release any imbalances. The treatment is extremely subtle and works to improve fluid dynamics in body areas.  This type of treatment is almost imperceptible to the observer.

Osteopaths at Growing Bones use a combination of general osteopathy and cranial osteopathy for babies, which includes includes subtle cradling of the baby’s head and body, gentle massage, and gentle body positioning. This technique uses no more pressure than typically used when holding or dressing a baby.

General osteopathy and cranial osteopathy for babies aims to foster healthy body l alignment and alleviate any mechanical stress from birth or positioning in utero, such as strains around the upper neck or lower half of the baby’s skull.

Being born can be a stressful process for some babies... especially if there were delivery difficulties, medical complications, or a long, drawn out labour. However, the way a baby has been positioned inside the womb before birth can also result in body strain and imbalance -- even if birth was relatively easy.


A wide range of conditions in babies and children present to osteopaths:

Current research suggests that osteopathy can be an effective form of treatment for paediatric asthma, middle ear infections (otitis media), and infantile colic.

Additional conditions that commonly present to our osteopaths at Growing Bones include:

  • Infantile unsettledness
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Feeding difficulties
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Head shape concerns
  • Postural asymmetry
  • Teething symptoms
  • Excretory challenges: bed wetting, soiling, constipation, diarrhoea.
  • Digestive discomfort
  • Physical injuries
  • Headaches
  • Inner ear symptoms
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Recurrent respiratory symptoms
  • Skin conditions
  • Behavioural concerns
  • Learning difficulties
  • Physical restrictions associated with brain injury, motor disease, epilepsy or genetic syndromes

It’s important to note that osteopathic care does not claim to cure any of the conditions listed above. The osteopath’s role is to remove physical tension in the body using gentle and safe techniques that may contribute to relieving the symptoms of childhood conditions.


What to expect from your baby’s or child’s osteopathic session at Growing Bones.

At Growing Bones, we like to make your child’s visit to the osteopath a pleasant experience. The osteopath can treat your baby whilst they are feeding or sleeping. Toddlers can sit and play with toys. There is no need for children to lie still on their backs when receiving treatment, although it can be nice if they are willing! In fact, your child’s natural behaviour, movement and posture during play can help to inform the osteopath what areas of the body are functioning well, and what areas may need a little bit of help.


Need more information about how osteopathic treatment may help babies and children?

If you have any questions please call us on 03 9687 3040, or make an appointment using our secure online booking tool.


Osteopathy for babies: references and elevant studies…

A preliminary assessment of the impact of cranial osteopathy for the relief of infantile colic. Authors: Clive Hayden and Brenda Mullinger.

The Use of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment as Adjuvant Therapy in Children With Recurrent Acute Otitis Media. Authors: Miriam V. Mills, MD; Charles E. Henley, DO, MPH; Laura L. B. Barnes, PhD; et al.

Effects of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment on Pediatric Patients With Asthma: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Authors: Peter A. Guiney, DO; Rick Chou, DO; Andrea Vianna, MD; Jay Lovenheim, DO.