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Infants and Children

Osteopathy in the Treatment of Infants and Children


A baby's passage through the birth canal is often a difficult process. Nature ensures that the bones of the skull are pliable enough to overlap to enable this to happen, however sometimes the bones do not return fully to their normal positions after delivery. Strain of the baby's neck or spine can also occur and these issues are more likely to happen if the labour is very fast, unusually long, or fails to progress. Other factors include if there is a large baby passing through a small pelvis, if a baby has a large head, or if intervention is necessary, for example a forceps delivery or ventouse extraction. A Caesarian birth may involve trauma to a baby stuck in the mother's pelvis. Alternatively, problems of compression can occur in utero if there is insufficient amniotic fluid. Preterm as well as full term babies can need help to recover from the process of their birth.

A baby will often communicate there is a problem by being unsettled, irritable, or wakeful. Symptoms in a newborn baby to be aware of are:

  • gastrointestinal disorders (colic, vomiting, 'slient reflux', sucking and swallowing problems)

  • continuous crying

  • difficulty feeding or a preference to feed from one breast

  • sticky eyes

  • sleeping difficulties

  • stiffness of the neck muscles

  • favouring the head to one side (torticollis and/or plagiocephaly)

  • a misshapen head (plagiocephaly)

  • tongue tie or jaw restriction (often affects feeding)

  • recurrent ear infections or 'glue ear'

​When to Seek Treatment for Infants and Children

Paediatric cranial and visceral osteopathy can be very effective in treating a wide range of symptoms and conditions in children and adults. Our treatments are very safe and gentle, based on extensive clinical experience and research evidence. Our aim is to gently ease away any obstructions which are preventing the baby or child from recovering their healthy homeostatic function. Obstructions that may get in the way include restriction of  bone and muscle function, and/or of blood supply, nerve supply and venous and lymphatic drainage. Once these obstructions are eased away, the baby or child (or adult) is able to more easily recover their optimal health and feel better.

Please note, our Paediatric Reg Osteopaths who are experienced in the treatment of babies and young children are Dr Melanie Young, Sebastian Tucker and Dr Giulia Buczkowsky.

People come to see us for the following researched conditions: (Please note this page is still being completed and is continually updated)

  • Ear infections and glue ear - The tissues of the upper back, ribs, and neck which attach to the underside of the cranium can pull on the membranes surrounding the temporal bone (which the ear sits in) and affect the eustachian tube drainage from the middle ear into the back of the nose. Freeing up the temporal bone assists in easing acute ear infections in children or adults. We also work with the more chronic situation of glue ear to assist drainage and help avoid grommet surgery if at all possible. Research in Australia has shown that antibiotics are no longer recommended as treatment for recurrent ear infections in children.  (Research)

  • Gastrointestinal disorders in term and preterm infants (Research)

  • Back and neck pain - Our Osteopaths are highly trained and experienced to help people every day in this area. We take a thorough look at why you may be getting neck or back pain, we ask many questions and assess your whole body structure and how it functions. We aim to get results quickly to get you out of pain, save you time, and reduce suffering. We also look at developing a plan with you so we can help prevent it from re-occurring. Our aim is always for you to remain pain-free and for you NOT to need to see us again!  (Research)

  • Sinus pain - Very small but important motion is required in the bones of the face, in particular the frontal and maxillary bones, in order for the sinuses to keep draining well. Our patients report immediate relief from the pain and pressure of sinus congestion, with our gentle osteopathic treatment.    (Research)

  • Headaches - There are many kinds of headaches and causes, we usually see people with headaches which are caused by strain in  their neck or upper back or from the membranes in the head which have lots of nerves in them. We are trained to assess 'red flag' type headaches and refer for further assessment including scanning if appropriate. (Research )​

  • Pregnancy back pain - In pregnancy, the growing uterus requires postural changes to maintain balance. Also, the hormone relaxin softens ligaments and can result in pelvic or back pain. Past injuries such as a fall onto the bottom, even many years before, can show up as a problem in pregnancy. We can treat with the pregnant woman lying comfortably on her side or seated, to restore balance and improve functional reserve to tissues. Our patients find this to be very helpful in reducing their discomfort. We are also able to restore the optimal balance to the pelvis and related muscles to allow for the best natural birth possible.(Research)

  • Preparation for labour - We recommend pregnant women come into the practice around 35 weeks pregnant for a pre birth assessment of their pelvis and uterus balance. We find this helps improve the birth process and results in fewer interventions.  (Research )

  • Growing pains (Research)  We find one to three gentle treatments usually sort this for children)

  • Hyperactivity - (Research)  is often multifactorial so diet and environment also need to be looked at in the appointment. We find that treatment directed towards calming the autonomic, in particular, the sympathetic nervous system helps with calming, digesting, and sleeping better)

  • Speech problems - (may be caused by tongue, jaw, or breathing problems so we really need to make an assessment to be more specific )

  • Asthma Osteopaths can't stop the initial allergic reaction of bronchial spasm and increased mucous production,  but we can help reduce the autonomic nervous system response to the allergen, also help improve the rib cage mobility and ease the accessory muscles of respiration which can get tight and sore with the effort of breathing. (Research )

  • Dental problems and orthodontics  - We see children of any age and also adults when they are undergoing orthodontic work. (For example to ease pain in the head, neck, jaw or face associated with braces)

  • Jaw or TMJ pain or clicking - This can occur after an injury such as a blow to the side of the head or to the jaw directly. We have also seen problems after a long dental surgery session or if the bite is 'off'. It can be very painful and distressing to have pain in this area and be unable to eat or exercise without pain. We find that our gentle techniques are very effective at restoring better jaw function quickly following acute injury.  (Research)

  • Fibromyalgia  - We use gentle myofascial release techniques including the osteopathic technique Counter-strain to 're-set' the central nervous system when there are trigger points causing pain in the tissues. (Research)

  • Post surgery  - To reduce your recovery time (Research)

Cranial whole-body diagnosis requires an acutely trained sense of touch coupled with fine discrimination as to the dysfunctions present in need of correction, and this can only be learned by years of study and training under skilled instruction. 

Cranial treatment is extremely gentle, is suitable for infants, children, and adults of any age, and involves no pain for the patient.
Research evidence on the safety of Cranial Osteopathy

​We would like to see more high-quality scientific research for many problems common to Babies and Children. These problems include colic, flat head (plagiocephaly), glue ear, sleeping problems, and irritability. Our clinic would be happy to participate in any such trials.