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Healing Touch for Infants


By Venice Sullivan, Ph.D, NCMT

“HELP!  My baby won’t quit crying and seems to be in pain.”  Or, “My baby can’t latch on, her head is lopsided, or she can’t straighten her legs.”

These are all dreaded words for any new Mom, who may quickly feel inadequate because she can’t help and no one seems to have any answers. Your baby should always be checked by her Pediatrician in case it is something serious.  But, when the doctor says it’s no big deal and the problem continues, it might be time for an experienced massage therapist who has specific training in infant care to lend a hand.

Since there are many needs and levels of massage for adults, it only makes sense that infants may have the same needs.   As we all know, sometimes a back rub from our Honey makes everything in the world right again. Other times, we need a professional massage therapist to work out the kinks, and when things get more serious, we need someone with yet a deeper skill set and knowledge of anatomy to restore us to a pain free state. This can be provided by advanced massage therapists, neuromuscular therapists and bodyworkers.  A few of the issues we can help resolve are:

  • Torticollis
  • Bowed legs
  • Club foot
  • Colic
  • Nursing issues
  • Unexplained crying
  • Pain

As the previous article described, there are many ways to help you relax and comfort your baby. Sometimes that is not enough.  The birthing process can be tough on a baby, as well their time being confined in the womb.  In the womb, the baby may get stuck in one position; confining her movement.  This may result in her being unable to move her head; or her leg being twisted weird, or perhaps her foot is off to the side.   This can happen with any baby, but is even more likely when the baby is large or there are multiples. During the birth process, the head may get twisted a little to much, causing a stiff neck or pinched muscles. If the baby is in the birth canal for an extended period of time, it can cause a host of issues, as can many of the assistive devices used in today’s birthing.  Birth can also cause muscle tissue damage and/or problems with nursing.

When I had my kids, nursing for us was easy and I took it for granted.  However, once I started working with infants, I realized that is often not the case.  Just as any muscle can get stiff and not move right – that is definitely true with the jaw.  While the bones of the head are meant to be compressed during birth, sometimes the pressure is uneven and/or prolonged; causing imbalances that effect the head, jaw and all the associated muscles.  The use of forceps or suction can also cause their own issues resulting in making nursing extremely difficult and painful.  Babies respond like us, if something hurts they quickly lose interest. With very gentle touch in the right places, it doesn’t take much to release the muscles and make nursing the wonderful experience it was meant to be. Your lactation consultant will help with technique and we can help work out the muscular dysfunctions to improve both of your lives.

I have worked with many babies over the years and it is one of the biggest joys of my practice.  My goal working with each of them is to accomplish my work without making them cry.

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