Babies are reaching new milestones monthly if not weekly in the first year of life. Their brain goes through so many changes in such a short period of time. They begin with their first breath of life, learning to nurse, and then adapting to the bright and loud world around them. They begin smiling at interactions, reaching out for what they want, crying when they are displeased or needing something from their caregiver. All of these neurological changes are happening at a rapid pace. You may wonder how in the world can you support their development at this time. I have 5 ways you can assist in giving your baby the best start in their brand-new world.
1. Get their spine checked by the chiropractor after birth. Have you watched a birth? During birth, babies go through intense changes in their environment. During a vaginal birth, their cranium compresses onto itself as they are pushed through. The first breath of life expands the skull, along with pushing and squeezing fluid out of their lungs and stimulating skin receptors along the way. C-section babies miss out on this opportunity and benefit with massage, touch and a cranium check in that first week. By having a chiropractor check your infant, it can greatly improve their ability to nurse, move, stretch, and grow without compensation right from the beginning.
2. Place them on their tummy. An infant is born with a C-shaped spine. By placing them on their tummy for contact naps, naps on a caregiver, or playtime, you improve their ability to rotate their head to both sides. They also will strengthen their neck muscles by looking up at their parents or siblings. This lays the groundwork for the infant to push up on their hands and create the beginning stages of the low back curve in order for them to crawl. There is nothing more important than working with an infant to crawl on hands and knees. The cross-crawl pattern will help them later in life with reading, writing, and coordination.
3. Challenge their non-dominant side. Some infants will show favoritism by looking to one side more often. They can create this habit by the way they are placed in a carrier or crib or even laying the same way on the floor during diaper changes. Change up how you lay your child down. Place them on the opposite side of the crib at nap times. Put their car seat on the other side of the car after a few weeks. Stimulate and challenge them to turn toward you during play time on their least favorite side. If your infant can’t rise to these challenges and refuses to turn to a certain side, that is one sign that they need to be checked by their chiropractor.
4. Stop feeding them too early. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends we feed infants only formula or breastmilk until 6 months of age. Many parents are urged to give cereals or solids as early as 4 months old. Cereals are full of starch with no nutritional value. An infant with no teeth does not make enough of the enzyme amylase to properly break down those starches. Feeding them too early can result in digestive issues such as constipation. The Weston A. Price foundation has many resources on what you can feed your infant at the appropriate time of development. Signs that a baby is ready for food include, sitting up unassisted, the ability to pick up food and put in mouth and then eating and swallowing without gagging or vomiting.
5. Get rid of baby containers. Have you heard of container baby syndrome? It means that a baby has been placed in swings, chairs or other confining equipment so often that it has stunted their neurological development. Babies need safe, open floor space in order to reach milestones such as rolling, pushing up, and being able to freely rotate their head and body side to side. Often babies stuck in containers develop favorite sides to rotate their head to which can lead to flatness or misshapen skulls.
Adding a new baby to the family can be challenging. It is even more challenging and stressful when you are trying to navigate all your questions alone. We were never meant to tackle parenthood alone. It takes a village to raise a family. I have taken numerous courses and obtained certifications in pediatric care over the 8 years of my chiropractic practice and will always be available to listen, observe, and help you navigate this beautiful new life called motherhood.