The Benefits of CranioSacral Therapy for Babies and Children

CranioSacral Therapy

Kim sits facing a massage table with a child lying down during a pediatric craniosacral session.

As an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, I was originally going to major in child psychology. I was planning on going on to a post graduate physical therapy program, thinking I’d want to specialize in pediatrics. 

Well, a few years later I began my Masters in Physical Therapy at La Crosse and realized that working with kids is really hard! I did receive a Masters in Physical Therapy but went on to work primarily with adults in outpatient orthopedics. 

Every time I’d have a kiddo on my schedule, I’d end up calling my best friend Lindsey Shay who is a phenomenal pediatric therapist in La Crosse. “Lindsey, I have an 8-year-old with a broken bone…how do you get a kid to do what you want them to do?” 

It wasn’t until 12 years into my work at a physical therapist that I returned to my original knowing that I wanted to or was supposed to work with children. In 2012, I had my first son and it was recommended that I see a CranioSacral Therapist as he had a pretty pronounced flat spot on his skull at 6 months old. 

La Crosse had a great physical therapy program, but they did not teach or promote CranioSacral Therapy, so I had never previously opened my mind to its potential in my life or work until that point. Of course, for our children we will try anything that may help, so that’s exactly what I did. After two visits with a phenomenal CranioSacral therapist, my son had a complete resolution of his flat spot. I was floored!

My Journey into CranioSacral Therapy

A few years later, I decided I should try and learn CranioSacral Therapy as an add on to the work I was already doing in women’s health and orthopedic therapy. As my course work progressed, it was very natural to take a pediatric class. By this time I had 5 (now 6) children, and babies and children were less of a mystery to me than 10 years prior.

“A person is a person no matter how small.”

Dr. Seuss

I found, for myself, working with children from a CranioSacral standpoint is actually much easier and natural then adults. There is no, ask someone to do something and expect them to do it. In fact, it is usually the opposite of traditional physical therapy. The patient’s body often asks of the therapist, not the other way around. 

Once children feel safe, they often sink deeply and quickly into receiving CranioSacral work. Their logical mind is not trying to talk them into or out of anything, and they aren’t worried about having to “understand.” Kids typically take exactly what they need from the hands-on work quite efficiently.

How CranioSacral Therapy Can Help Your Child

I work with all kinds of children for a multitude of reasons. It can begin just with wellness or offering some sensory integration support to a newly born baby. I love seeing newborns within the first few days of life, even when everything through pregnancy and delivery has gone exactly to plan. That new baby has been through a huge transition and transformation, and CranioSacral work can help them adjust and acclimate more easily to their new environment. 

I see a lot of babies and children for everyday ailments such as colds, ear infections, “fussiness,” bumps and falls. From there, people will also find CranioSacral Therapy is a great support for all sorts of diagnosed conditions:

  • ADHD
  • Autism
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Behavior disorders
  • Cerebral Palsy and other neurologic considerations
  • Congenital heart malformations
  • Digestive disruptions and sensitivities
  • Emotional distress
  • Failure to thrive
  • Hydrocephalus and shunts
  • Learning disabilities
  • Orthopedic injury and healing
  • Seizure disorders
  • Sensory processing disorders
  • Speech disorders
  • Tongue and lip tie
  • Torticollis

Because of the intuitive nature and focus on the patient’s own higher knowing, the list of things that can be addressed through CranioSacral work is really unending. 

What to Expect in a Pediatric CranioSacral Session

A pediatric or newborn CranioSacral session is 30 minutes in length (sometimes less depending on what the child decides in office). It either looks like a child or baby laying on the table receiving hands-on work, or me following them around the room doing both hands-on and hands-off energetic CranioSacral work. Some children are very energetically sensitive, and prefer to receive work without hands on. Oftentimes, children on the Autism spectrum and with ADD/ADHD will fit this description.

Typically, with newborns, I may see them weekly or every other week, as they are often in a critical growth and acclimation period. Most newborns may see me for a total of 4-8 sessions. I will typically see older children less frequently and over a longer period of time, unless we are working with an acute situation such as a concussion or acute illness.

After a session, newborns are often very tired and sleepy for the rest of the day. Older children can have emotional outbursts later in the next day or so, as they may choose to “release” whatever they were holding in an environment that is familiar. Or they may do the majority of the work on the table and be fully integrated before they even leave the office. Everyone’s a little different.

“I brought my 4-year-old son to Kim for CranioSacral Therapy while he was recovering from open heart surgery. The sessions were calm and beautiful, Kim provided a safe space for both of us to be open and realistic about true healing. It is one thing to heal a wound but Kim taught us to help him integrate the whole experience. After treatment, he would sleep so well, usually with a big nap after appointments. But the greatest improvement was his window of tolerance for physical touch and conversation regarding his health and doctor appointments. We both had so much anxiety but Kim gave us tools to transmute these feelings into healing. A year later I am still using these tools and know I am helping my son grow into his best self.”

Allison

Oftentimes, parents aren’t sure what is going on with their child — they just have a sense that something is amiss or could be improved. This is a hard and familiar place to be in as a parent. CranioSacral work can provide answers and support in unexpected ways. It can offer a new line of communication and trust between children and their caregivers to deepen and strengthen the relationship.

CranioSacral work is typically both conservative and deeply effective for improvement in health and daily contentment within the individual and the family unit. Get in touch if you have any questions or want to book an appointment.

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