Written By Dr. Brenda Fairchild
“Why would a child ever need to see a chiropractor?” is a question I get asked constantly!! My question is always, “does your child have a spine?” And if they answered YES, they can benefit from chiropractic care!! Within 4 weeks of fetal development, the neural tube is closing and the brain and spinal cord are developing along with the heart. Our spine, skull, and ribs along with muscles and ligaments protect these vital organs. Baby’s development is also dependent on their position in mom as they are growing. The Webster Technique is wonderfully helpful in helping moms-to-be have proper pelvic alignment.
As the baby is brought into this world, their first trauma is the birth itself. Depending on the delivery, the baby’s head, neck, and shoulders and easily misalign coming through the vaginal canal. And can be more pronounced if the OB or midwife has to put traction on the head and neck. They may use either their hands, forceps, or suction.
How Do You Know if Your Baby is Out of Alignment? They Can’t Talk Yet.
- Not sleeping
- Crying all the time— Colic
- Flattening of the skull—Plagiocephaly
- Hard time breastfeeding
- Not liking the car seat
- Not liking tummy time— unable to hold head up
- Has lip and/or tongue ties
- Favoring looking to one side- torticollis
- Constant congestion, sick a lot
- Ear infections
- Unexplained fevers
As your baby grows up, there are things to watch out for and take into consideration:
- They may have back pain
- You may notice posture is off: possible scoliosis, text neck, gaming posture(slouched when sitting)
- Not able to focus in school, are they sitting facing the board or off to the side?
- Fall a lot, trip over their feet, fall of couch, bed, trampoline parks
- Delay in crawling or walking
- Not coordinated
- Learning to walk— falling on they bottom hundreds of times can misalign they sacrum bone
- Athletes— better performance, faster recovery times
- Recovery from auto accidents
This is not a complete list by any means. When aligning a child, it is quite different than an adult. Much more gentle and VERY specific. It is important when looking for a pediatric chiropractor to make sure they are specialized! You can visit the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association to find a pediatric chiropractor in your area. For those of you looking for more than just chiropractic and looking for a functional doctor like myself, you can find the best of the best at Intersect4Life. Through the most amazing program, we have incorporated into our practices working with balancing not only the nervous system, but the gastrointestinal(poop), endocrine, sensory, and immune system as well as biochemistry in helping with methylation, mitochondria, and metabolism. There are only a handful of pediatric chiropractors across the country and Canada and I happen to be one of them!!! Lucky you!
Why do I travel the country away from my family and office to constantly be learning more and more? Because Our Children Deserve Better!
Not only are chiropractic alignments vital to raising a healthy and thriving child, but proper nutrition, vitamins and minerals, exercise, sleep, and not over-scheduling helps with maintaining vibrant children. I know this isn’t always easy. I struggle with balance too. Just do your best!! Know you are doing a great job raising your children!
By Joseph Fairchild
’Tis The Season
It’s so hard to believe the holidays are upon us, isn’t it? Thanksgiving 2019 has come and gone, and 2020 is just around the corner.
What comes to mind when you think of the holidays? Is it holiday traditions handed down or developed over the years? Memories of holidays past? People you have loved and lost? Delicious food you enjoy each year? Seeing people you don’t see very often?
One thing many of us associate to the holidays, regardless of faith or upbringing, is giving. While a source of joy in many respects, it can also cause frustration or resentment. It seems that every time you turn around, someone somewhere is asking for a donation or gift. What to do? While the answer isn’t quite so simple, here are a few ideas:
- Just say no: It is ok to say no. Co-workers or well meaning friends and family want to exchange gifts, and we don’t want to seem cheap or miss out on the fun. At the same time, we participate – sometimes begrudgingly- though we are really just “going through the motions.” When you give or participate, doesn’t it feel much better when it’s done from a place of enthusiasm instead of compulsion? This isn’t to say don’t join in the activities – just re-consider the gift exchange piece of it. Maybe you can plan a weekend away or nice meal out and enjoy relaxing time together instead.
2. Be mindful about your approach: give some thought to they causes that are most important to you. Which organizations match your personal values? Who is doing the work you want to support? Reserve your giving to those charities.
3. Research the organizations you plan to donate to: this is especially important if you plan to donate a sizable amount (and only you can decide what sizable means). Established charities can provide annual reports upon request (they may be available on their website). These annual reports show how much the organization received, and how they use their money. Be wary of organizations that don’t invest most of their money in program expenses- those expenses used to provide the actual services to end users.
4. Involve your family: our children often amaze us don’t they? Even those times it seems like they are not paying attention, they watch us closely. Why not teach them by example? Some children are so inherently generous this comes naturally to them.
5. Take a little time to give to yourself, too: for some, this is a struggle and it doesn’t feel quite right. This does not mean you have to buy yourself an expensive gift or go away for the weekend. It means you do something you enjoy, just for yourself, no matter how small, that will bring you joy during the holidays. And guess what? Those around you will feel it too. Isn’t it easier to give something you have in abundance?
Just like over eating or drinking too much alcohol, giving too much can make us sick, too. Please keep this in mind and don’t “give until it hurts.”
- With 20 years experience in the financial industry, Joseph Fairchild loves to help others make sound financial decisions. He is an amazing husband to Dr. Brenda and father to Madelyn.
The colder days are approaching, and along with purchasing more soup and stew ingredients, most people are adding tissues, elderberry syrup, and over-the-counter cold and flu medications to their carts. You can’t seem to turn a corner or go one commercial break without reading a sign or hearing about ‘flu season’ and how bad it will be this year. Along with the increase in coughs, colds, sniffles, sore throats, and ear aches, the flu and other ‘winter illnesses’ cause more missed work and school days than illnesses commonly contracted in other seasons.
Have you ever wondered why we, as a population, tend to get so sick in the winter? The flu doesn’t magically appear every year when it gets cold outside, it exists year-round, but is generally caught and passed to others easiest throughout the coldest months. The same goes for strep throat, stomach viruses, fevers, and colds.
Research from 2015 shows that 1/4th of our gene activity is impacted by seasonal changes with winter suppressing the gene responsible for warding inflammation. This, of course, effects the cells that make up the immune system. It also impacts our blood composition and adipose tissue (fat cells), making us more susceptible to weight gain and pain, along with increasing our chances of getting sick. You can see that researchers found a cyclical trend in healthy individuals’ genes over a year’s time, which identifies the body’s natural ability to stay healthier throughout the summer as compared to the winter.
When you pair this gene activity with the cold, dry air that presents in the winter, and the decreasing Vitamin D levels due to less sun exposure, you have the perfect environment for viruses to attack. Viruses enter the body through the nose, and when you have a runny nose, a virus has the ability to ‘hang out’ in that mucus longer than it would be able to in a clean nose. Everything that mucus touches then becomes contaminated with the germs it contains. It may seem impossible to prevent a runny nose, so keeping tissues nearby and using soap to wash your hands well will prove to be your best defense.
The winter generally keeps you indoors, whether at home, work, or school, with windows sealed tight and the heater running. This also presents the perfect environment for viruses to spread. Having the same air continually circulate weakens the already impacted immune system. While turning up the heat is a necessity, you need to pay attention to the humidity levels as you do so. The dry air caused by your heater and outdoor weather not only increases illness probability by allowing germs from a sneeze to survive longer, but it also causes dry, cracked skin, sore throats, and headaches. Research shows that running a whole-house humidifier, or having versions in the rooms most commonly used, can help you stay healthier throughout the sickest season of the year, killing up to 30% of the influenza virus in the air and promoting more restful sleep.
One thing to note: humidifiers must be cleaned out at least two times a week to prevent build up.
The greatest way to ward off illnesses year-round is of course proper hand-washing, regular exercise, eating a whole food diet, and getting proper rest. Throughout the winter, however, supplementing with Vitamin D3 has been shown to decrease the probability of contracting flu symptoms, especially in school-aged children. It can prevent or lessen joint pain caused by inflammation, too. You can also aid your body by taking daily probiotics, keeping your gut health at an optimal level.
Youth sports is big business in our country, and it’s hard not to get caught up in at as a parent. I haven’t met many families that don’t have children in sports year round. Many families have children in year-round sports on top of club or recreational level sports that run seasonally. While sports lead to great opportunities, they do put a lot of strain on the body. Many school-aged children and teen athletes are experiencing injuries and chronic pain early in their sporting careers. Most traditional treatments for these complaints only place a bandaid on the underlying issues and may include addictive medications. Chiropractic care works to find the root of the problem and heal the issue itself – as well as preventing chronic pain from ever occurring.
Today’s young athletes work harder, spend longer hours, and work through injury more than the generations before. Over 30 million children participate in organized sports in the United States, and close to 775,000 children are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries. According to the Journal of Neurological Science, more sports-related, non-fatal injuries are treated in hospital emergency rooms than any other type of unintentional injury. While traditional doctors treat the immediate damage done, many children leave the hospital with undiagnosed spinal stress.
Young athletes are still growing, leaving them less coordinated and more susceptible to injuries due to slower reaction times than adults. Many injuries result from repetition and overuse, which places stress on the musculoskeletal system. This can be from practicing imperfect techniques, wrong shoes, improper equipment, etc – all of which makes the bodywork harder and creates greater demands on the body.
The American Chiropractic Association states chiropractic is a “form of health care that focuses on musculoskeletal and nervous systems disorders and numerous studies support their assessment.” It is common in sports medicine, but typically isn’t discussed until an athlete is at a professional level. Youth, high school, and college athletes can all benefit from seeing a chiropractor regularly, too!
Chiropractic care decreases recovery time.
After practices or after a game, an athlete can benefit from soft tissue techniques such as massage or instrument-assisted soft tissue techniques. These make the tissue more moveable and relaxed. They decrease lactic acid and improve blood flow.
Chiropractic care aids in injury repair.
Enhancing mechanical motion by adjusting joint segments with soft tissue techniques can improve muscle tone and blood flow to injured areas. aAN adjustment can help to reduce inflammation and lower pain levels. Kinesiology tape can also be used to provide support and increase blood flow to the injured area.
Research shows a supportive link between chiropractic care and athleticism. A study of athletes by the Journal of Chiropractic Research and Clinical Investigation announced that athletes receiving 12 weeks of chiropractic care showed 30% improvement in reaction time. Taking care of a young athlete’s body should not begin the first day of practice or after the first tournament of the season. Athletes should focus on body awareness and health – all year long, and with young athletes, parents need to take on this responsibility.
Chiropractic care can improve a child’s game.
Keeping the spine in proper alignment is a great way to ensure your child is gaining the most from their sport. The non-invasive techniques performed by a chiropractor shorten recovery time, prevent strains/sprains and encourage body strengthening. Flexibility can also be increased to help prevent injury.
One of the greatest benefits of utilizing a chiropractor is avoiding medication. By helping kids build strong bodies and take in the right nutrients, chiropractors can enhance an athlete’s ability to perform. Regular adjustments can keep a child healthy, happy, and at the top of his game!
Alongside of the backpack, lunchbox, and new shoes should also be a reminder list of how to keep the school germs at bay this year. We saw a nationwide increase in illnesses this time last year, no doubt related to the back-to-school rush and ‘unhealthy’ environment our kids are sitting in day after day.
While most classrooms look spotless to the naked eye, there is so much happening that you just aren’t seeing. Generally speaking, classrooms are sprayed and wiped with chemical-filled and artificially-scented cleaners. There can be hidden mold and other growing issues not even known about. Bleach is a janitor’s best friend. I’m not judging because schools are huge cesspools of snot and sickness, so go ahead and get them as clean as possible; however, a completely bleached space does not mean germs are stopped from spreading.
What it means is that all bacteria, both good and bad are eliminated daily. When you add to this foundation a squirt of hand sanitizer a few times each day, you have a recipe for disaster.
Most classrooms have a carpet or rug area, even a couch and/or pillows. These items are rarely cleaned more than a quick vacuum (for the rug). This is what I call the sick-pot. If there are community crayons, pencils, scissors, or other supplies, you can bet they too are holding the sick germs. You see, when your child is void of the healthy bacteria to fight these germs, they get sick easier, and spread the sick germs easier. It is a vicious cycle that most parents and teachers think is par for the course. The biggest myth, though, is when parents state, “It’s just building their immune systems.” When you are preventing your child from being able to fight the illnesses, you aren’t building anything.
So what can you do to help prevent your child from becoming sick this school year?
Preparing for School Sicknesses
Eat Whole Foods
The foods you feed your child are the fuel that power his gut. The link between the brain and the gut continues to raise the importance of eating well.
If the gut bacteria balance is off, there will be stomach aches, headaches, focus issues, and behavior problems. Study after study provides the information needed to support creating a healthy gut environment. To do so, you will need to adjust the diet and introduce high quality supplements. If you have questions on what ‘high quality’ means, head over to this post.
Probiotics – Help balance the gut bacteria with probiotics.
Multi-Vitamin – While most are filled with junk, you want to look for folate (methyl-folate is best) instead of folic acid.
Immune Boosting Tincture – Tinctures are becoming more well-known, and with great reason. Highly concentrated versions of immune boosting herbs are dropped into your child’s water cup each day. They can be found at almost any natural grocery store or ordered online.
Vitamin D3 – Unfortunately, the return to school brings with it less time outside in the sun. As most kids are naturally deficient in Vitamin D, being inside most of the day makes it worse. Liquid or chewable versions works, but drops are the easiest way to get the highest amount in your child.
Vitamin C – A liquid version can be a little fizzy for most kids to tolerate, but there are decent chewable versions out there.
Elderberry – I recommend tinctures over liquid so you skip the extra sugars and get a more concentrated dose.
Echinacea – Again, a tincture form is great. (An immune-boosting tincture will have this in it, but if sickness occurs, you may want to add this in.)
Vitamin A – Read over my Vitamin A research to ensure you have the right amount on hand if a virus is picked up at school!.
Provide Personal Supplies
Send a note if needed, but encourage your child to use his own pencil and other supplies.
Encourage Hand Washing
Hand sanitizer isn’t on my favorite list. Instead, have your child use soap and water regularly.
Get Good Sleep
Sleep is imperative for good health, especially when a body is still growing. Your child’s body and brain need to be on a regular sleep schedule.
Cloth diapers are not what our grandmothers once used- a cloth towel held together by pins. Gone are the days of hand-washing and line drying cloth diapers, too. (Unless of course, you choose to do so.)
We are entering a more environmentally friendly generational wave right now, and one trend is coming back with a new style. Keeping disposable diapers out of landfills can help to lessen your carbon footprint, and it can have significant health benefits for your baby. Choosing cloth diapers over conventional diapers is an easy decision when you understand just what it can mean for your baby.
The Benefits of Cloth Diapering
Keeping the chemicals from disposable diapers off of your baby’s skin should be a priority. Sodium Polyacrylate, Tributyl Tin, Phthalates, and Dioxin are only a few of the most common chemicals found in disposable diapers. These are all linked to lifelong health risks such as endocrine disruption, obesity, and cancer.
By choosing cloth diapers, you also lower the risk of diaper rashes and UTI’s because you will be changing your baby more frequently.
9 in every 10 American babies use disposable diapers. This adds up to 27.4 billion diapers in landfills each year.
- Just for the disposable diapers U.S. babies will wear, over 200,000 trees are cut down every year.
- In one year, 3.4 billion gallons of fuel oil will be used to manufacture disposable diapers.
- Disposables generate over 3.5 million tons of waste each year.
- Those diapers can take up to 500 years to decompose.
Earlier Potty Training:
Because cloth diapered babies can feel when they are wet, they want to potty train earlier than those in disposable diapers. They tend to have less bed wetting issues as they potty train and grow, too. It is easier to notice your baby’s bathroom cues when wearing cloth diapers, making the transition to underwear smooth and easy.
Your Bank Account:
Purchasing disposable diapers will cost you over $800 a year per child, but (depending on how many cloth diapers you purchase) cloth diapers can be bought for $5-20 a piece. You can survive with about 25-30 diapers, easily. (It’s even cheaper if you use prefolds and a cover!) These diapers can be reused on siblings, too.
The Selection of Cloth Diapers
It is an overwhelming world to jump into these days! You can choose between:
But don’t shy away because of the choices, you’ll find your favorites as you start trying them out. The easiest will always be an all-in-one, hybrid, or pocket diaper. They require the least amount of work, but all cloth diapers are pretty easy!
Perhaps the pattern options may sway your choice, too. Whales, monkeys, plaid, stripes, ice-cream cones, you name it and you can find it on a cloth diaper. Ruffles and bows? No problem. An attachable dragon tail? Yep. You may just find yourself starting a new obsessive collection!
How to Clean Cloth Diapers
If you are breastfeeding, there is literally nothing to do but toss your diapers directly into a diaper bag, and then wash the contents of the bag every other day (empty and toss the bag in, too). You’ll rinse the diapers on a cold cycle, wash them on a hot cycle with minimal soap, and then rinse them again on cold. You can hang them to dry or toss them in the dryer for convenience.
If you are using formula, or after solid foods enter the picture, you can knock the poop into your toilet before throwing the diapers into the wash.
Learn More About the Risks of Disposable Diapers:
Parents are also not aware of the adverse effects of disposable diapers being in contact with their baby’s reproductive organs 24 hours a day for more than two years and the long-term effects it causes.
Disposable diapers have been implicated by diapering proponents like leak proof polymers, super absorbent polymers, and some scented chemicals which are the key factors for everything from chronic diaper rash, respiratory problems like asthma, liver damage, skin diseases, infertility, and even to cancer.
Continue the research:
We all have a tendency to breathe through our mouths when our mouths are open. This, however, should never be how we receive the majority of our oxygen. Typically, adults only breathe through their mouths when there is inflammation or blockage (due to illness or sinus pressure) and it ends as the inflammation ends. There are the exceptions; those who are born or become mouth breathers in toddlerhood. These individuals tend to have problems throughout their lifetimes that can all be linked back to how they breathe.
Structurally, the tongue no longer supports the maxilla (the upper jaw) if mouth breathing occurs. With the removal of this support, the roof of the mouth behind the maxilla will rise and cause congestion to the nasal passages. Mouth breathing can quickly dry out the mouth and decrease saliva production, even increasing the overall pH. Saliva is extremely important for neutralizing acid and helping to wash away bacteria, without it, the chance of tooth decay and cavities increases.
If braces have already been put in place on a mouth breather, the overall treatment plan will take longer and be more difficult. The spaces between the teeth will be more difficult to close and the stability of the alignment of will be compromised once the braces are removed.
Not only does mouth breathing impact teeth, but it is linked to attention and focus deficiencies, behavioral issues, and speech impediments. When children breathe from an open mouth, they are more likely to struggle with certain speech sounds. The most commonly associated speech problem is a lisp, or the inability to say “S” sounds correctly. The type of swallowing pattern to produce this sound causes the tongue to protrude during speaking and swallowing.
Mouth breathing has the ability to cause neuro-cognitive deficits and cardiovascular problems. It also impacts the facial growth and development. A child who breathes this way has a high chance of growing into an adult with flatter facial features, less prominent cheekbones, a longer face, droopier eyes and lower facial muscle tone, a narrower palate, and even a smaller and lower jaw than what she was originally designed to develop.
The most well-known side effect though is sleep disordered breathing. It can be defined as an upper airway resistance syndrome to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with secondary growth impairment, but in common terms it is known as a form of sleep apnea, snoring, or just plain open-mouth breathing during sleep. Less oxygen is taken in during the night by a mouth breather, and when less oxygen is able to reach the brain, the ability to focus throughout the day becomes a problem, as does learning. This can also lead to chronic fatigue, tiredness, and brain fog.
What if Your Child is a Mouth Breather?
If you are noticing that your young child’s mouth is always open throughout the day and/or over night as she sleeps, it is a red flag to stop and dig a little further into the situation. If she is not sick and this is her normal sleep habit or every day breathing method, you will want to bring it up with your pediatrician, chiropractor, or doctor of choice.
The most common reasons for chronic mouth breathing include:
- Anterior tongue tie
- Posterior tongue tie
- Tongue placement habits
- Enlarged tonsils
- Enlarged adenoids
- Food allergies
- Environmental allergies
- Underdeveloped facial and cranial bones
- Neuromuscular disease
An infant’s facial and cranial development during pregnancy plays a large role in their breathing method. Undesirable positioning in utero, birth trauma, or nutritional deficiencies created in utero, can impact development of the cranial and facial bones in a negative manner. With 85% of the nasal airway in the maxilla, this underdevelopment can be the root of a mouth-breaker’s issues. Working with therapists and utilizing chiropractic care together can provide a foundation for a lifetime of better breathing.
Depending on the cause of your child’s mouth breathing, one of the following may be suggested:
- Tongue tie clip
- Rapid maxillary expansion
- Distraction osteogenesis
- Continuous positive airway pressure
However, before agreeing to surgery, contact a local Myofunctional Therapist. The specialized therapist can retrain your child to breathe properly through her nose with exercises and routines, preventing surgery and a lifetime of chronic problems.
It is important to note that research has found that children who lead a life at an obese weight are more prone to experiencing an onset and reoccurrence of mouth breathing and the effects it can cause. Help your child lead her healthiest life by providing high quality foods and ample time to burn energy.
When was the last time you received a good hug? How about the last time you gave someone a good hug?
A hug only takes seconds, but most adults feel as though the act is too personal to share with others on a daily basis; however, this mindset needs to shift because science is showing us just how important a simple hug is. Research shows a proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing together, can benefit you in many ways.
Under high psychological stress, we are more likely to get sick. Knowing that a heartfelt hug can decrease stress levels, do you believe that hugs can help keep you stay physically healthy? Science believes this may be true, at least when it comes to the link between stress and illness. Researchers investigated the relationship of hugging, social support, and the probability of getting sick in 404 volunteers. The participants were called every evening for 14 days and asked if they had been hugged that day. There was a clear relationship with individuals who had been hugged more also feeling like they received greater social support. After the two weeks, the participants were invited to an isolated floor of a local hotel and were quarantined in separate rooms. The researchers gave them nasal drops containing a virus that caused common-cold-like illnesses. The results were amazing. How often somebody had been hugged clearly influenced their infection risk. Participants who had been hugged more had a decreased risk of infection, and out of those who were infected, those who had been hugged more had less severe symptoms.
Including hugs in your day is also linked to a happy lifestyle. We release the hormone oxytocin when touched, which elevates feelings of attachment, connection, trust, and intimacy. A 2018 study showed how hugs impact negative situations. Several hundred adults were called every night for two weeks and asked about conflicts with other people in their lives, whether they felt in a good or bad mood, and whether they had received one or more hugs that day. If participants received a hug on a day in which they had gotten into an argument with someone, the conflict appeared to lead to a smaller increase in bad mood. The hugs also had a protective effect, meaning that the participants who received a hug on one day and got into a fight the next day had experienced a smaller increase in bad mood than when not having received a hug the day before. Again, hugging has a huge impact on the psychological effects that stress causes.
When you include hugging in your everyday life, you are benefitting in the following ways:
- Lowering blood pressure, protecting against heart disease.
- Balancing the nervous system.
- Strengthening your immune system.
- Encouraging honest, deeper connections.
- Keeping you young and maintaining muscle strength.
- Lowering stress levels.
- Reducing feelings of pain
- Boosting self-esteem.
- Reducing feelings of depression.
- Releasing tension and relaxing the muscles.
- Providing the skin contact that bodies need to remain healthy.
- Healing feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.
- Increasing feelings of happiness.
Between the age of seven to ten months, most babies begin to crawl on their hands and knees. This milestone is highly anticipated by parents, but it is more than just something to note in the baby book.
I am constantly telling my patients about the importance of crawling. New research is being published regularly that links certain developmental stages to brain growth and future learning abilities. As children crawl their brain is making more and more connections. Each connection is a solution to a problem that they have solved by, and with crawling. The more a baby crawls the more efficiently these connections become and the more automatic the skill becomes. Crawling provides an opportunity to explore the surroundings, and as the skill becomes more intentional, a baby’s spatial skills also begin to develop and improve. (Spatial skills are the ability to locate objects in three dimensions using sight or touch.)
Research also shows that crawling facilitates the development of cognitive skills, including the skills that allow a child to locate an object by sight or touch. One study showed that children who were crawling on hands and knees were able to locate a hidden toy correctly more often than children who were not able to crawl in this typical fashion.
Crawling plays an important role in the development of spatial and cognitive skills. Some development experts call this stage the “psychological birth” of a baby because it spurs specific growth and refines many other skills. It increases hand-eye coordination, gross and fine motor skills, balance, and overall strength.
Unlike army-crawling (belly crawling), hands and knees crawling requires contra-lateral or cross-lateral movements. This simply means that opposite hand and leg move together – or “cross movements.” Doctor and author Carla Hannaford explains, “Cross lateral movements, like a baby’s crawling, activate both hemispheres (of the brain) in a balanced way. These activities work both sides of the body evenly and involve coordinated movements of both eyes, both ears, both hands and both feet as well as balanced core muscles. When both eyes, both ears, both hands and feet are being used equally, the corpus callosum orchestrating these processes between the two hemispheres becomes more fully developed. Because both hemispheres and all four lobes are activated, cognitive function is heightened and ease of learning increases. Additionally, with the spinal axis giving her an up and a down, she will now be able to move any way she wants – three dimensionally.”
The cross midline ability plays a role in:
- Spine rotation: a twisting coordination through the torso
- Strengthening the lower back in preparation for standing and walking well
- Preparing the ankles for the bending and straightening needed for walking
- Strengthening hand-eye coordination
Crawling also helps reshape the hip sockets to prepare for walking. But the research doesn’t stop there. The brain development that is taking place throughout this stage of infancy is linked to reading skills years down the road. When a baby crawls, her body acts against the weight of gravity, developing her vestibular and proprioceptive systems. When crawling, the baby touches different surfaces and textures and will develop the sensibility in her palms and fingers, allowing her to grasp and hold small objects (such as a pencil or crayon to draw, write, or play a musical instrument) in the future. This is extremely important for her neurological and cognitive development. All in all, crawling supports learning, creative problem solving, and overall brain function.
If you are a new parent and want to help encourage your baby to crawl, remember that daily ‘tummy time’ is key to setting your baby up for success.
Did you know that tummy time exercise is essential for future developmental milestones? Your newborn is learning and growing at a rapid rate, and she will experience new sensations as she matures. It is common for most infants to cry, fuss, and typically not enjoy being laid on their stomachs while awake. Actually, most babies tend to fall asleep instead of working on their neck and core strength. However, you are not failing if this is what happens in your house.
Over the years of adjusting families with young infants, I can tell in a single adjustment if a baby is completing tummy time at home. I tend to bring the subject up often in the families that I notice it may not be happening. There was false information spread a few years ago about this exercise being useless, and sadly, many moms bought into it. This, paired with the “Back to Sleep” (“Safe to Sleep”) campaign, has led to developmental delays and problems with many babies.
Laying a baby on her back does significantly lower SIDS risks; however, a baby who is always on her back is not going to develop on track. There are concerns about an infant’s head shape, especially if she is left on her back or supine position for most of the day. Babies who spend a majority of time lying on their backs in car seats, rockers or on play mats, can develop a misshapen or flattened head. You can read more about the increase in helmet wearing and Flat Head Syndrome here.
The problem is not just a flat spot on the head; your baby can develop problems with her neck and head muscles, and this misshapen head provides less room for the quickly expanding brain to grow. As a result, several children may be prone to developmental delays, sensory issues, speech and language trouble and attention and focus issues. Research has found that many students who struggle academically (and emotionally) lack the proper muscle tone in their neck, shoulders, and back to comfortably sit in a class, take notes, and look at the white board.
Crying when introduced to tummy time is common, as it is a hard workout for a baby. She is working on strengthening her arms, legs, core, and neck so she can crawl correctly and eventually walk, run, and continue to develop on track. Tummy time also promotes proper posture, mental and visual stimulation, and exploration and interaction with the world around. Research shows that babies who spend at least 80 minutes per day (in small increments) playing on their tummy while awake are more likely to reach their milestones faster than those who spend less time on their tummy.
A 2017 study found that parents who report even the slightest head asymmetry in their newborn’s first month of life were more likely to prevent further asymmetry from occurring, and they were able to reverse the problem while working with their pediatrician and following side-lying technics and tummy time exercises. This I valuable information, as many parents believe the only solution is a helmet.
Do you struggle with tummy time? Here are a few ideas to make it a more peaceful practice:
- Spread out a blanket in a clear area of the floor
- Try short sessions after a diaper change or after your baby wakes from a nap
- Put a toy or toys within your baby’s reach to help your baby learn to play and interact
- Sit with your baby while she is on the floor so that she doesn’t feel abandoned
- Increase the session duration as your baby gets older