Babies are not simplistic in their needs. They are fully developed human beings with the ability to express their needs without our “language skills”. They look wrinkled because they are in transition from a weightless water world to a world governed by the laws of gravity. They are thinking, trying to make sense of the sights, sounds, smells and emotions around them. We nearly always look at people’s faces when they are the same way up as ourselves. Babies often have to contend with faces peering at them from all angles. Try sitting above a baby’s head and looking at them carefully “upside down”. Notice the symmetry or otherwise of the head and face. Gently place your hands around their head, obviously with the parent’s agreement. Ease your touch until you become aware of another movement. It is like a slow, gentle wave that appears to change the pressure in the head. This is called the craniosacral rhythm. It is a fluid that protects the brain and allows it to remain in a fluid world. During the first 20 minutes of life the baby starts to re-organise their nervous system. The lungs erupt to welcome their first breath of air. The fluid around the brain starts to flow as it feeds into the spinal chord, nourishes the nerves. An adult will produce, and re-absorb about half a litre a day. The Early osteopaths called the driving force of this fluid the breath of life. Osteopaths emphasise the huge amount of anatomy required to understand the subtle workings of the body. The Upledger Institute run some great course to teach lay people the techniques of contacting the fluid and gently re-directing it to unblock areas of sluggish activity. The skills are best learned in a group but there is some common-sense intuitive feedback that babies themselves will give you. If they hold their heads or push your hand away when you touch certain areas they are telling you that they feel uncomfortable pressure. Let me explain to you what a therapist might be doing. We sometimes gently spread the fingers of one hand either side of this area and direct the fluid to the area from the opposite side of the head. We let the fluid pressure do the work from the inside. Sometimes a baby will show “projectile poohing”, really uncomfortable and straining then a sudden explosion. The muscles around the anal sphincter are sometimes underdeveloped. Gentle stimulation with the little finger, preferably with a glove on will sometimes stimulate the reflex. Sometime a baby will only feed on one breast preferring to turn their head one way. It could be that a caesarean birth has not subjected the back of the neck to a strong manipulation during the final point of delivery. The occipital bones at the back of the head are four at first then slowly fuse into one bone by the age of three. A therapist might gently spread these bones while directing the fluid or place their fingers under the back of the skull and exert pressure to release the joint. You might find extreme discomfort after feeding breast milk. It is possible that you have switched breasts too soon so the baby only has the sweet milk not the rich fatty milk. They might be suffering from a sugar overload. Either changing your way of breast feeding or using formula will relieve the problem.
There is a move towards lumpy feeding, allowing a baby to try foods whole and chew their way through them. It is alarming to see them gag and spit the food out but if they can do this before ten months they are less likely to choke later. Be careful with food of the additives, especially salt. We watched a mother giving their baby a lump of cheddar to eat, unaware that their kidneys can not cope with that amount of salt. If you read labels carefully the sodium content is stated but not allows the salt content. You need to measure by the 100gm and at least double the sodium to allow for the chloride element. A mild cheddar might contain 1.5gm of salt. A vintage cheddar could contain 7gm of salt!