The benefits of cranial osteopathy for babies


Are you struggling to settle your newborn baby? Are you battling to successfully latch and breastfeed your baby? Your newborn may benefit from a treatment called cranial osteopathy.

What is cranial osteopathy?

Cranial osteopathy involves the gentle manipulation of your baby’s head and spine to release stress and tension in the body. Dr Tanya Botha, a Cape Town-based osteopath explains that depending on the nature of the delivery, some newborn babies can be quite uncomfortable after birth. Some babies may have had what is referred to as a traumatic birth, especially if instruments like forceps or a vacuum were used during the delivery. If your baby was born via Caesarean section, the spine may not be well aligned as it did not pass through the snug birth canal. The spine can be quite tight, resulting in discomfort. In addition to this tightness of their spine, babies can also experience some shock from the birth, she says.

ALSO SEE: 6 chiropractic benefits for babies 

How does cranial osteopathy work?

According to Dr Botha, cranial osteopathy for babies is an extremely gentle treatment aimed at undoing any tension created by the birth or in utero positioning of the baby. Small movements are made over the baby’s skull and spine to release any tension and restore proper alignment. It is not painful for babies and can bring much relief when any tension is released. Osteopaths use their hands to feel and treat what each baby may be struggling with. This could be gastric problems, unsettled behaviour, interrupted sleep, or even feeding problems, explains Dr Botha.

This treatment can be beneficial if your baby:

  • Struggles to settle to sleep
  • Favours facing one side
  • Latches poorly
  • Struggles to pass wind
  • Experiences cramps.

Benefits of cranial osteopathy

The benefits of cranial osteopathy therapy are numerous. Along with releasing stress and tension in your baby’s body, it can help calm her down, too. In turn, this will improve her sleep routine and overall comfort and contentment. Cranial osteopathy can help settle any colic or digestive problems your baby may be struggling with, such as cramps or trapped winds.

What can I expect from my baby during and after a cranial sacral therapy session?

Every newborn baby responds differently. During a session your baby may either be quite calm and peaceful, or restless as various stressors are released. Most babies have a long sleep after the session, so don’t be alarmed. Few babies experience what is known as a treatment reaction. This often means they can appear worse before they appear better. Rest assured that if this happens, it is short lived. Your practitioner will discuss what to expect from your baby with you.

More about the expert:

Dr Tanya Botha  is a Registered Osteopath and qualified in the UK in 2006 from the London School of Osteopathy. She then did a Masters in Paediatric Osteopathy at the Osteopathic Centre for Children (OCC) in London. She is a member of the Osteopathic Association of South Africa Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa and is on the Board of Healthcare Funders. She is now at Back2Health in Claremont, and has also joined Birth Options in Plumstead two days a week, where she is available to treat adults, babies, children, pregnant and postpartum mothers. Contact: 076 703 3488,

scroll to top
Send this to a friend