Is Your Newborn Developing Properly?
What’s there to know about a baby developing?
They just sleep, cry and eat and lay around...right?
Well, come to find out, there’s actually really important indicators and milestones that need to be met for your baby to develop properly - neurologically speaking. This becomes imperative considering that your child’s brain grows to 80-90% of its adult size by just 2 years old. In the first year of life, not only do your baby’s brain cells form hundreds of thousands of connections, but their cerebellum grows 240%!
There are lots of things that clinicians look for to determine how your baby’s nerve system is developing but here are just a few things that you can check at home to see if your child needs to get checked for nerve interference by a NeuroStructural Chiropractor:
1. Grasping with Foot/Hand
During development, the first part of your body that forms is your nerve system and the first part of your nerve system that dominates in function is the level of the brain stem which is responsible for coordinating reflexes associated with survival known as primitive reflexes.
When you hold your baby for the first time right after their birth, if you put your finger in the palm of their hands, they should grasp your finger with their hand and this will persist for upwards of 4-6 months after birth - this is normal.
If this is absent or your baby only displays this reaction in one hand then consider that there is likely disturbance in the nerve system or injury to the nerves that leave the neck.
2. "Rooting" Phenomenon
When it comes to survival, food is most definitely near the top of the list as a necessity.
Newborns obviously can’t pick up a fork and stuff a brussels sprout in their mouth since this is a learned behavior. Ever since the inception of mankind, even mammals, newborns have always relied on breast milk for nourishment and immunity through the first couple years of life.
If you take your finger and gently stroke the side of your baby’s cheek, the normal response is that they turn their head towards that side and appear as if they are opening their mouth for their next meal. This simulates their cheek being next to mom’s breast signaling to them automatically that it’s time for food!
If this reflex is absent, this could indicate there is damage to their nerve system and if not caught early can lead to problems related to speech, writing, eating disorders and hormonal imbalances. It is normal for this reflex to stop around 3-4 months old as they start “verticalization” and slowly develop more executive function.
3. Always be Flexin'
If we as humans did not have muscles, then we would not have any means to move our body parts or even to secrete certain enzymes and hormones which also requires the efforts of smooth muscle.
Before your newborn is introduced to the world, they assume the fetal position inside the womb. The fetal position requires that your baby flex their neck, elbows, hips, knees and ankles.
When your baby is born they should display what is called “Flexion tone,” meaning that they will hold their arms and legs close to their body and if you try to pull their arms or legs away from their body, there should be quite a bit of resistance.
If this is absent, and for some reason was missed by a healthcare provider, bring them in to get checked because this is often indicative of impairment to the neuromusculoskeletal system and if severe enough it is known as “floppy baby syndrome."
The spine protects the spinal cord which sends controlling impulses from the brain to the muscles and if there is impairment to the spine then it can severely impact the development of the neuromusculoskeletal system.
4. Surprise Clap
Have you ever been watching a scary movie and then all of a sudden a scary scene came up that you weren’t ready for?
That loud sudden music usually makes just about everyone jump out of their seat and there’s a good reason for that.
Like I mentioned earlier, the brain and spinal cord are among the first systems in the body to form in utero. From the beginning, your nerve system lays down the foundation first by having reflexes online that pertain more towards survival. This is because this is much more important in the first years of life than executive thoughts and functions such as creativity, critical thinking, and logical thinking.
As you develop throughout the years you start to develop more executive functions in order to develop social skills, cognitive abilities and building meaningful relationships.
One way to check that your newborn’s instincts are online (being expressed by their nerve system) is to perform a ‘surprise clap’. If you are a couple feet away and clap briskly, you should see your baby almost freeze and start to turn their eyes in the direction of the sound.
If they do nothing as if there was no surprise stimulus at all after multiple attempts, this could be indicative of either a hearing issue or impairment to the nerve system.
The Bottom Line
Often, when newborn children enter the world, they are subject to considerable amounts of stress coming through the birth canal or via assisted delivery such as c-section, vacuum, or forceps.
This can be traumatic to the spine and obstruct the proper development of the nerve system. Absence of or diminished reflexes and/or lack of muscle tone can be indications of trauma to the spine and nerve system.
If your child is showing signs of the above listed, or lack there of I should say, your child would benefit from having their health checked objectively with neurological instrumentation and a thorough exam by a chiropractor who is great with kids and whose focus is on the correction and restoration of a properly functioning nerve system for optimal health and development.
Click on our other blogs to learn about common problems children experience and what you can do to ensure optimal health for your child.
Let us help your child express more of who they were created to be.
Feel free to give us a call at 925-255-5805 to see how we can help you or help you find someone near you if you are from out of town. Our office is located in Pleasanton, CA, and we serve the east bay / tri-county area and beyond.
Our information source for data cited in this article: