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October 23, 2023

The journey of parenthood is both beautiful and challenging. As a new parent, you might find yourself asking, “What are the keys to ensuring my infant’s health and development?”  In a world brimming with conflicting opinions, navigating the intricate path of understanding what constitutes genuine and healthy development for your little one is often daunting. 

That is why we aim to bring you clarity and unwavering confidence. In this blog, we will delve into the four fundamental developmental tasks that infants aged 4 months and under must master. These tasks serve as the very bedrock of your infant’s health, growth, and development. Every smile, every milestone achieved, and even the occasional struggle can be traced back to these pivotal elements of development. So, if your baby is struggling with colic, constipation, reflux, sleep issues, or developmental delays, read on to equip yourself with the knowledge to support your child’s well-being. 

The Science Behind Infant Development

In the initial few months of life, infants undergo remarkable transformations. However, encountering issues such as colic, constipation, or reflux can lead to countless sleepless nights, which may make you wonder if your struggles are normal or if others are facing the same challenges. While each infant is unique, has good days and bad days, and develops at their own pace, understanding the typical small behaviors and milestones can give parents the confidence they need to get help for their babies or the confidence to stay the course.

The four cornerstones of infant development are: Eat, Sleep, Poop, and Motor Function. 

These are the pillars upon which your baby’s well-being rests, and mastering them can make all the difference. Below is what each cornerstone should look like for your infant. 

1. Eat (Breastfeeding or Bottle Feeding)

  • A comfortable and easy latch during feeding
  • A strong suck that doesn’t involve biting or excessive air intake
  • Controlled and effortless swallowing, adjusting speed as needed
  • Minimal or comfortable post-feeding spitting up

2. Sleep

  • The ability to self-soothe and sleep soundly
  • Comfort in multiple sleeping positions
  • The development of a sleep-wake cycle after a few weeks 
  • The ability to sleep in longer stretches of 2-3+ hours at a time

3. Poop

  • Efficient food digestion 
  • Minimal gas or grunting during sleep
  • Regular and frequent bowel movements (the frequency varies but should be multiple times a day during the first 2-3 months)
  • Minimal strain or discomfort during bowel movements

4. Motor/Foundation Movements

  • Steady head and neck control without external support
  • Tracking objects with visual attention
  • Responding with smiles upon hearing your voice
  • Engaging with hands, including opening and closing them
  • Bringing hands to the mouth 
  • Comfort and willingness to participate in tummy time and interact with toys and people (typically around 3-4 months)

In contrast, if your baby encounters challenges in any of these areas, you may notice: 

  • Frequent stiffening, arching, head and neck discomfort, and excessive crying
  • Difficulty maintaining head elevation during tummy time
  • Premature attempts to stand with a stiff and tense posture
  • Persistent problems related to sleep, digestion (commonly constipation), and immune function
  • Excessive crying, distress, reduced eye contact, diminished smiles, interaction, and babbling

Birth Trauma and Its Consequences

When we dive into the underlying root cause behind why your infant might be struggling, a recurring factor we consistently see as a significant contributor to difficulties eating, sleeping, pooping, or movement is birth trauma. This trauma can impact vital brainstem and cerebellum regions, profoundly affecting their essential roles in facilitating these fundamental tasks. 

Factors such as the baby’s position during pregnancy, the duration of the birth process, or medical interventions like c-sections, vacuum extraction, or forceps delivery can exert physical tension on the delicate tissues of the brainstem and upper neck.  These regions play a pivotal role in regulating the autonomic nervous system, coordinating motor function, supporting immune health, and facilitating digestion.  

In essence, if your newborn experienced stress during pregnancy or delivery, it could affect their ability to eat, sleep, poop, and move comfortably. 

How Can Chiropractic Care Help?

As a Neurologically-Focused Pediatric Chiropractor at Vive, we possess the expertise in helping infants who have endured birth trauma and may be experiencing struggles related to eating, sleeping, pooping, or movement. 

If your baby exhibits signs of colic, reflux, constipation, or difficulty sleeping or eating, these are all indicators that your infant’s nervous system is involved.  By optimizing your baby’s nervous system function and supporting development, our neuro-tonal chiropractic adjustments can be instrumental in fostering a healthy and thriving baby. 

Don’t be disheartened by the notion they will “grow out of it.”  We are here to offer support for your baby now!  If you are not local to Vive, please check out the PX Docs directory to find a doc local to you.  As PX Docs, our goal is to help your baby grow up with a solid foundation to be resilient, healthy, and thriving!

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