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When Can Kids Start Chiropractic?
When should a child get their first chiropractic check-up? Can chiropractic help babies and toddlers?
Parents sometimes have questions and concerns about taking their children to see a chiropractor. They read about the benefits of chiropractic treatment and wonder if chiropractic could help their child. Yet they are unsure about their child’s age and if they are too young or too small to see a chiropractor. The parents also want to make sure that the chiropractic adjustments will be gentle but effective.
A general rule of thumb to follow, that many families feel comfortable with, is to bring children to the chiropractor around the same age as they would be taken to see the dentist for their first dental cleaning (around age 4-5 years of age). Just as it is recommended for children to see the dentist twice a year for dental cleanings, it is also recommended for them to be seen by the chiropractor twice a year for postural assessment and chiropractic adjustments. Having chiropractic wellness exams every 6 months helps the child’s skeleton to develop in a symmetrical manner (so that the right side of their body matches the left side of their body) and encourages neuromuscular health.
Babies and toddlers can receive chiropractic treatment if the doctor is gentle and experienced in working with little ones. (More information on babies and toddlers is provided later in this article.)
When kids are in sports or dance / gymnastics classes
Children who are active in sports (such as soccer, baseball, or swimming) or participating in dance / gymnastics often need to see the chiropractor a couple extra times throughout the year. For example, if the parent touches the child’s back and notices that the muscles are tighter than normal, or if the child has a rough fall, or the child begins to complain of soreness in their back, it may be time to take them to the chiropractor for a check-up.
When kids carry a backpack
Today kids put so much stuff into their back packs. They carry books, electronics, water bottles, and dozens of other things around with them on a regular basis. If mom or dad notices that their kid continually has one shoulder higher than the other, or says that their back feels uncomfortable and continues to mention that their back is still sore the following day, it’s probably a good indication that they should have a chiropractic check-up.
Kids who play a musical instrument
Some kids begin playing an instrument at a young age. Parents should keep an eye on their posture. It’s far better to take a child to the chiropractor before their body becomes “used to” having poor posture than to spend years battling incorrect posture because the skeleton is either asymmetrical or is leaning too far forward.
Kids who spend a lot of time on a tablet or mobile device
Children who spend more than a couple hours a day using electronics are at risk for developing problems with their neck, shoulders, elbows, and wrists/hands. Address these issues now by seeing a chiropractor rather than waiting for them to become young adults who are at risk for Tech neck (also called Texter's Neck), Texter’s Thumb, and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Wetting the bed
Children who are older than age 4 and who are still wetting the bed often do well to see a chiropractor. Usually the vertebrae in the child’s lower back need to be gently adjusted back into their proper position. The child will then start waking at night, becoming more aware that their bladder is full. After 5 – 10 chiropractic appointments, the child often begins to experience dry nights and can stop wearing pull-ups while they sleep. Bed wetting becomes particularly stressful to a child and their family as they get older. They become embarrassed by a situation that may be easily corrected by an experienced chiropractor.
Do all chiropractors adjust children?
Although many chiropractors will adjust children, some chiropractors are more experienced in working with kids than others. Some chiropractors do not feel comfortable treating young children at all.
How to know if a chiropractor has experience with adjusting children
Look at the chiropractor’s website to see if they specifically mention children. Call the chiropractor’s office and ask if the doctor is experienced in working with kids. If mom/dad has some concerns, it is often worthwhile for the parent to first make an appointment for themself (such as a chiropractic wellness exam) to see if they feel comfortable with the chiropractor before making an appointment for their child. Check and see if the chiropractor has any kid’s toys in the office. Does it look as though the office is kid-friendly? Do other families with kids see this chiropractor? Ask the chiropractor about any particular concerns you may have.
Can chiropractic help toddlers?
Toddlers who are experiencing some delays with walking may benefit from chiropractic treatment. Toddlers who suffer from ear aches / fluid build-up in the ears often do well with gentle chiropractic adjustments that help their ears to drain more effectively.
Examples of chiropractic helping babies
It is recommended to take the baby to the pediatrician to assess the baby’s diet and overall health before their first chiropractic appointment. Babies who routinely suffer from colic may be experiencing migraine-like headaches that keep them awake and also interfere with digestion. Unfortunately, babies aren’t able to explain their pain to mom and dad in any other way except to cry. Some chiropractors are able to help babies who have colic. (At our office we use a special adjusting tool for preemies and newborn babies. Babies are held by their parents during chiropractic treatment. The force that is applied during the adjustment is lighter than a friend gently tapping you on the shoulder with their finger to get your attention.)
Starting children early with chiropractic treatment
There are advantages to receiving chiropractic wellness assessments and treatments during childhood such as better balance, correct posture, skeletal symmetry, improved sensory processing, and increased coordination. Some parents report that their children sleep better and feel more relaxed in school when they are on a chiropractic wellness schedule. Most kids enjoy their visits to the chiropractor and look forward to their appointments.