Have you ever noticed your child sleeping in this position?
This is Max. She is the child of a chiropractor. Did I pick her up and move her when I saw her like this? NO! Because she is a baby and she was sleeping for goodness sake!
My first baby always insisted on being held, so she was almost never laid in a swing, rock and play, etc. This one though? She doesn't mind it, and neither do I (since I have a two year old to attend to).
Babies are going to be subjected to some stresses, even early on. Whether you had your baby vaginally or via cesarean, I can guarantee you there was a lot of physical stress placed on his or her little spine. And then they are in the real world! Gravity, diaper changes, and yes, sleeping like this in a swing. Or carseat. Or even baby carrier! Check this out.
How can you avoid some of these stressors?
Have a vaginal birth if at all possible. As a baby goes through the birth canal, though it is a lot of pressure placed on their spine, it is nature's intended way of birthing. Cesarean, though unavoidable at times, creates a more stressful environment. For example, they miss out on the compression of fluids out of the lungs and being exposed to mom's vaginal flora (good bacteria) - both actually boost the baby's immune system. Doctors also are likely to pull baby up and out by their head or neck during surgery. This is something to be aware of with a vaginal birth as well - make certain your provider knows that you do not want them to "help" the baby out by pulling on them, and definitely avoid forceps or suction unless absolutely necessary.
Use wraps and carriers and learn how to use them properly. Babies want to be close to their parents, there is no doubt about that! This allows you to be (somewhat) hands free when caring for your babe. A MUST when you have other kids. I seriously LOVE babywearing for this reason. This also helps to avoid laying baby on his or her back and putting pressure on the back of the head. I have seen numerous babies with misshapen craniums - this starts with subluxations in the head and neck, leading to restriction in motion (so baby always lays with their face looking to one side) and eventually the cranium starts to mold in an odd shape. It is completely avoidable and does not require a helmet, but early intervention is a must. There is a great local group if you want to learn more about babywearing.
Be cautious during diaper changes. I am going to be honest with you - I don't use this technique. I don't worry about my kids because I check them regularly and therefore I am not concerned about lower spinal subluxations. If you absolutely cannot get your children checked at least every couple of weeks, you need to be using this method for diaper changes. This video also has an excellent explanation of what happens to your child's brain and body when there is stress placed on the spine.
Do not (I repeat DO NOT) use bumbo seats. I could seriously go on about this forever. Just don't. If you really need more information I am happy to talk to you about this (AKA yell about why these things haven't been taken off the market).
Make sure great grandma and grandpa are able to hold on to baby sufficiently ;) Enough said.
Now, maybe you had an emergency (or planned) cesarean birth, maybe you are in a hurry (like me) during diaper changes, maybe you've already been using a bumbo (eeek!) or maybe Grandma Harriet dropped little baby Matthew on the floor. Then by all means, they need to be checked by a chiropractor.
Babies little brains and nervous systems are developing rapidly for the first couple of years of life. If there is a disconnect between the brain and body, it will have a far more profound effect on a little one versus an adult. You know how kids learn things better/more quickly? A foreign language, a musical instrument, etc.? Their brains work differently than ours do as adults. A fully functioning nerve system is essential during the early days.
How do you know if your babe needs checked?
Like I said above, if they have been subjected to stress, they need to be checked. I checked and adjusted both of my babies within an hour of giving birth. (I would post those photos buuuuut I am pretty certain I am wearing a diaper in them.) Adjustments for babies are extremely gentle and non-invasive. But let's say you are still unsure - check out your baby's "posture". Look for them to turn to one side more than the other, or their head to drop down more toward one side in their car seat. Hold them up under their arms and see if both sides of their body are equally as strong. A super quick (and incredibly important) check is to look at facial features. Are their eyes even on a horizontal plane? Is one cheek fuller or more chubby than the other? Does their mouth curl up more on one side when they smile? Any sign of imbalance is a signal to be checked.
Then there's the problem areas: colic, spitting up excessively, trouble latching/breastfeeding, acting uncomfortable all the time, sleeping in very short stretches (yes, it is normal for babies to eat every hour overnight! but if they are only sleeping for 20 mins at a time, day or night, that is a sign of an issue). Also reasons why babies should be checked by a chiropractor.
When should your babe be checked?
ASAP. If they haven't yet, take them with you to your next appointment and ask your doc to examine them. It is seriously never too early. The great thing about chiropractic for little ones is that it's preventive care in most cases. Even if your baby has a "problem", they are likely to respond much more quickly if it is caught early. Preventive care is far less expensive and time consuming than corrective care, and (hopefully) your child will thank you when they are a healthy, well-adjusted adult.