Unwinding My Tiny Miracle: Understanding Muscular Tension in Newborns

Chiropractic Care  |  Pre-Post Natal & Child

Welcome parenthood! As your precious newborn snuggles in your arms, you might not be thinking about tiny muscles or hidden stresses. But just like adults, even your little bundle of joy can experience muscular tension.

Think of it like this: birth is a wild ride! Tiny bodies squeeze through tight spaces, maneuvering around twists and turns. While remarkable, this journey can leave its mark in the form of muscle tightness or imbalances.

So, why should you care about a little tension? Well, it can affect your baby in surprising ways:

  • Feeding challenges: Tight muscles can make it difficult for your baby to latch properly, leading to frustration for both of you.
  • Uneven head shape: If your baby consistently favors one side, their skull growth can be affected, leading to a flat spot.
  • Restless sleep: Tension can make it hard for your baby to relax and fall asleep, leading to crankiness and exhaustion.
  • Development delays: Chronic muscle imbalances can impact milestones like rolling over or crawling.

What might this look like?

  • One-sided head preference: your baby’s preference for one side may be the result of a torticollis (tight neck muscles)
  • Back Arching: if you baby is “spring-rolling” due to an arching back at 3 weeks or holding their head up in a contracted state at 3 to 6 weeks of age, this is not an indication that they are strong but rather, that they are tight, a sign of muscle tension. Baby’s head should be wobbly at birth up to 3 months.
  • Mouth-breathing or Gaping: a newborn should not be sleeping with their mouth open. Babies initially are nose breathers until 3-4 months in which that reflex will change.
  • Furrowed brow, or look cross
  • Clenched fists chronically clenched fists may indicate muscle tension
  • Flat head: head shape can often be connected to a torticollis as baby tends to lie on the same part of their head
  • Digestive distress: a baby can show signs that they are digestively unsettled
  • Unhappy with laying flat: a baby with muscle tension often prefers to be upright in your arms as opposed to laying flat (see back arching and spring rolling)
  • Car Seat Challenges: if you are having trouble with your baby in the car seat it may also be an indicator of muscle tension

Enter the Magic of Gentle Touches: How Chiropractic Care Can Help

If you suspect tension, don’t worry! Pediatric chiropractors, like Dr. Teri, are specially trained to work with tiny bodies. Unlike the “cracking” you might envision, these gentle adjustments involve light touches and specific holds to realign the spine and release muscular fascia tension. This can help your baby in numerous ways:

  • Improved feeding: Relaxed muscles can support better latching and suckling, making mealtimes smoother.
  • Balanced growth: Gentle adjustments can encourage symmetrical head development, preventing flat spots.
  • Sounder sleep: Releasing tension can promote deeper, more restful sleep for you and your baby.
  • Faster Milestones: Improved body awareness and movement can pave the way for reaching developmental milestones on time.

A happy, relaxed baby is a thriving baby. By addressing muscular fascia tension early on, you can set your little miracle on the path to optimal health and comfort. So, embrace the magic of gentle touches and watch your tiny wonder blossom!

Note: These articles are for informational purposes only and should not be substituted for professional medical advice. Always consult with your pediatrician or a qualified pediatric chiropractor or occupational therapist trained in cranial sacral, myofascial, pediatric osteopaths, and or the Gillespie approach before seeking any form of treatment for your baby.