This week, we wanted to discuss how PT may be able to help your infant with feeding difficulties. Recently we have been seeing and treating many infants with difficulties feeding, for example trouble latching, mouth tightness, and trouble getting enough milk! When you bring your new baby home from the hospital, there are so many things to learn and so many things your growing family is experiencing together, whether you are an experienced parent or new parent. If your little one seems to be having trouble feeding and becomes very fussy at meal times, you may start feeling very overwhelmed and exasperated, because all you want them to do is eat to grow big and strong!

A lot of times, babies who are experiencing feeding difficulties also have a lip and/or tongue tie, requiring releases. They also may seem uncomfortable in their bodies and seem fussy a lot of the time. It is often blamed on gas or colic, but there is often more to it. Many new parents are referred to a lactation specialist and/or speech therapist to help with their baby’s feeding difficulties and lip and tongue tie concerns. Both lactation specialists and speech therapists are amazing professionals to have on your team during this fussy, troublesome time. 

What you might not know is that a Pediatric Physical Therapist may be helpful as well, specifically a pediatric physical therapist trained in a special technique called Total Motion Release (aka TMR). This gentle technique helps PTs to look at the whole body of a child, no matter how small, to see if there are any asymmetries in their posture. These asymmetries in their posture are often left over from the infant’s specific positioning in utero.  They make it uncomfortable for your baby to be held in certain positions, which may affect them during feeding or otherwise. They can also contribute to tightness in your baby’s neck, jaw, and inside their mouth, which may affect their ability to feed, as you may be experiencing at home! Funny thing is, the muscles and other soft tissues of the body, specifically in the hips and the trunk, are MUCH BIGGER than the little muscles of the neck, jaw, tongue, and mouth. Because these soft tissues are bigger, they may be adding to the tightness your baby is already experiencing in their mouth, which may be increasing their difficulties with feeding.

If you are thinking this sounds like your little one, breathe a sigh of relief, because these asymmetries are easily worked out with simple and easy positioning techniques, especially if your baby is very little. Here at KidPT, we look at the whole body of your little one and use TMR to do this. Through our TMR lens, we look to see if your baby has any of these soft tissue asymmetries in his or her body. We can talk with your lactation specialist or speech therapist to see what their current concerns are, and as a team we can progress your baby toward ease of feeding, and an overall increase in comfort in their bodies, together! Parents often find that not only does the baby feed better, but they become calmer, happier and sleep better! If you are currently experiencing feeding difficulties with your newborn, and want an experienced pair of hands to see if asymmetries in your baby’s body may be contributing to this, come on in to KidPT for a free Discovery Visit with one of our Physical Therapists! We would love to help you and your little one with our no muss, no fuss approach! 

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