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Chiropractic Care for Infant Reflux

Published Date: 
September 22, 2023
Baby with formula running down her chin.

Acid reflux is common in babies. It’s also preventable in most cases. Reflux incidences are often related to a disconnected nervous system and the baby’s still-developing digestive system. If you are concerned about your baby’s reflux or think your child experiences reflux more than usual, chiropractic care can help.

Symptoms of Infant Reflux

Symptoms of acid reflux in babies include:

  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Frequent coughing
  • Difficulty swallowing or frequent gagging
  • Arching the back after eating
  • Refusing to eat
  • Irritability after feeding

Potential Causes of Infant Reflux

The most common cause of acid reflux in infants is linked to the development of their digestive system. The ring of muscles connecting the esophagus and the stomach is not fully developed in babies. This means that the stomach contents flow up into the esophagus.

Over time, the muscles strengthen and allow for healthy digestion and less reflux. But this takes time, which is why it’s so common for babies to spit up.

Mother holding her baby's feet,

In addition to an underdeveloped digestive system, babies might experience reflux due to:

How Chiropractic Care Can Ease Reflux in Infants

Chiropractic care is a safe, all-natural way to manage reflux in infants. It removes nervous system interference and helps the body perform at optimal levels. Many babies that undergo just a single chiropractic treatment experience decreased reflux symptoms.

Mother holding baby and feeding him with a bottle.

This is especially true for babies whose reflux is caused by a vertebral misalignment. Chiropractors can gently and gradually correct a misalignment, which helps the upper valve of the stomach develop control as quickly as possible. Chiropractic treatments also improve nerve function, which can alleviate many other common disorders of infanthood.

Whether reflux is a chronic problem for your child or they only deal with it occasionally, chiropractic care can help.

Chiropractic Methods for Safely Treating Infants

Chiropractic care is safe and non-invasive for babies when performed by an experienced treatment provider. It also helps avoid using medications that can trigger unpleasant side effects for common ailments.

Chiropractor adjusting infant's neck.

Although some parents choose to wait, it’s safe for most babies to receive chiropractic treatments in the first few weeks of their lives. As long as the pressure in the treatment is gentle and careful, there shouldn’t be any adverse side effects.

The most common treatment used on babies is spinal manipulative therapy, a hands-on gentle adjustment to the vertebrae. It targets joints in the spine and creates more room for them to move. The chiropractic adjustment creates an audible popping sound, indicating air is released from the joint.

Additionally, chiropractors use soft tissue therapy, including massage, to alleviate common health ailments in babies. They might also recommend at-home exercises parents can do to promote healthy development.

Parents need to work with a chiropractor who has experience treating babies. It’s also a good idea to speak to your child’s pediatrician about the use of chiropractic treatments, especially if they are part of a treatment plan for ongoing or chronic issues.

Benefits of Infant Chiropractic Care 

In addition to helping manage reflux, providing your infant chiropractic care has several other benefits. For example:

Reduces or Cures Ear Infections

It’s possible that for some children, frequent ear infections or ear pain are linked to minor injuries in the spinal cord. Proper functioning of the body relies on coordination between various systems, including the ears, the ear tubes, and the brain. Chiropractic care ensures that the communication pathways throughout the body – even the still-developing body – are free of interference, allowing for optimal function and helping prevent an ear infection.

Reduces the Pain of Colic

Colic and the pain that comes with it is common in infants. Like reflux, this is linked to the still-developing digestive system. A disconnection between the nervous system and the spinal cord can increase a baby’s risk of colic and colic pain. Chiropractic treatments support the health development and communication between the brain and the digestive system.

Reduces Fussiness

All babies are fussy sometimes, but babies whose nervous systems aren’t balanced tend to be fussier. Chiropractic care can alleviate many nervous system problems, reducing how often your baby feels fussy.

Helps with Breastfeeding

Chiropractic treatments improve the ability of your baby to suckle and feed properly. Sometimes, it’s difficult for a child to latch onto the breast because of damage to their spinal cord. Chiropractic care heals this damage and promotes healthy nursing practices. This includes issues with latching and sucking.

Promotes the Development of a Strong Immune System

Chiropractic treatments help your baby develop the strongest possible immune system. Immunity is closely linked to the brain’s ability to release the appropriate hormones. Chiropractic care enables the nervous system to function properly, ensuring everything is balanced and developing as it should for your baby.

At-Home Tips for Managing Infant Reflux

There are several things parents can do at home to minimize their baby’s risk of reflux. For example:

  • Feed your baby in an upright position and keep them upright until at least 30 minutes after feeding. This helps the contents of the stomach stay in place and digest properly.
  • Feed smaller portions more frequently. If your baby experiences reflux often, consider feeding less and adding a feeding or two throughout the day.
  • Be sure to burp your baby during and after feeding. Frequent burps prevent air buildup that can trigger reflux.
  • Make sure your baby sleeps on their back. This is the case for most babies, regardless of whether or not they experience reflux.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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