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Is your baby a “little frog” or a “little Meerkat”? – Inspired Wellbeing article

Osteopaths look at the shape, curves, posture and patterns that both an adult and baby prefers to hold themselves in. This is often very pronounced in a baby and seeing how a baby is laying or being held by a parent offers a lot of clues as to what occurred during the birth of that baby before the parents have even described it. The more I know about the birth then the more specific my treatment of that baby can be and the quicker the beneficial results. Parents are usually hoping their baby can be helped to stop excessively crying, be happier and calmer which means more sleep for the whole family.

Do you call your baby a “little frog”? A frog baby is one of the most common types of patterns I see in a baby. They are scrunched up in a little ball and love to be carried by their parents up on the shoulder with their knees tucked up under them. They will like to be held like this all the time! Even when they should be sleeping at night so parents themselves often sleep upright on the sofa holding the baby like this, which means little sleep for the parent. These babies usually like to be constantly jiggles around too, walked and shusshed to calm them.

This is the main problem though, these babies can’t stand laying on their back. They find it really uncomfortable, their knees come up and they can often let their legs drop to the side so they end up on their side curled in a ball again. If you can’t lay them in their cot or Moses basket then sleep is a big problem and so is their crying. They don’t mind their car seat though, because the car seat is curved which is more comfortable for them. The problem with this is that you have to leave them in the car seat to sleep which is not ideal or you have to take them for a drive to get them to sleep which is also not ideal, especially if it is at 2 am!

The most common reason behind these “little frogs” is that they have been born by a C-section or had a very fast delivery. Think about the baby inside the mother in the foetal position, basically curled in a ball, and then taken out via C-section which means they stay curled in this little ball. They haven’t been elongated and stretched out via the birth canal. Very quick deliveries are similar, the baby does get straighten out a little through the birth canal but it is so quick that they ping back in a ball again.

The other common pattern babies get stuck is a “little meerkat” baby. This is also easy to see when parents hold their baby as they up up stiff and straight on the parents shoulder, like a Meerkat looking around. It as only recently that a father told me they called their baby a meerkat and I loved it so I have stolen the name off them. Thank you!

Instead of calling their baby a meerkat most parents say that they have noticed that their baby “has a very strong neck”. A new baby in reality doesn’t have a strong neck, it really should be more relaxed and has to be supported, which that is totally normal. A baby’s strong neck is more likely to be them being more stiff and arching back when they are crying or colicky. Sometimes they can arch back so strongly they almost throw themselves out of your arms. Osteopaths would call this an “extension pattern”, but I think “Meerkat pattern” is much better. Again this stiffness can set in from their type of delivery.

I have noticed in my clinic that backwards arching babies seem to more often have reflux, silent reflux or bring up their milk excessively, although this is not exclusive to these babies. The reason being that this tightness in the spine between the shoulder blades is associated with the area through which milk passes into the stomach. When the baby arches back strongly the milk gets forced back up and out, usually over your shoulder and on to the top you just put on.

Meerkat babies prefer to lay on their front to go to sleep, which is an issue as current advice is to not let your baby go to sleep like this. They like laying on their front because it shapes them into this extension position which they find comfortable. They may also like laying across your knees on their tummy or along your arms in whats called the Lions Pose and they can be so stiff they look like Superman or Supergirl holding their head up.

Where as little frog babies are curled in a ball because of a very fast birth these meerkat babies are stiff because their delivery was long, overly long probably. They have been in the birth canal for sometime which straightens them out and just fixes them in that position once they are out. They may have had some assistance with ventouse or forceps too or may have been back to back.

It’s important to understand that these are only patterns and they will ease of their own accord over time. However, cranial osteopathy is really amazing at unwinding these “patterns” babies are stuck in which allows them to more comfortably lay on their back which means they can actually sleep like a baby. By very gently working on the babies head, spine and low back they will lengthen out and be happier and calmer too.

Mothers always mention that after the treatment their baby is happier just laying by themselves, not crying, under their play gym on in their cot or on a blanket. This can give you some much needed time to get a few personal things done or even get to the loo or have shower without a crying baby in the background.

Christian consults out of The Perrymount Clinic in Haywards Heath and can be contacted on 01444 410944 or christian@theperrymount.com

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