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Why It's Important to Recognize Neurological Tension in Babies: Signs, Symptoms + Solutions

Updated: 5 days ago

In our office we care for babies for all kinds of reasons: colic, torticollis, reflux, constipation, birth trauma, sleep challenges, and many families choose chiropractic care as a preventative and wellness lifestyle. The thing about babies is they can't tell their parents what they're feeling, which causes parents to rely on visible symptoms.

If you've felt like something feels off with your baby but you're not sure what it is or what to do about it this article is for you. Parental instincts are a gift, so if your instincts are telling you to seek support, then listen to your instincts! If your provider dismisses your concerns, it may be time to seek support from other providers.

Symptoms in babies often don't fully present themselves for weeks or even months. What we've noticed in our office is that most challenges babies experience link back to neurological tension in the brainstem and spinal cord. The good news is that there are signs of neurological tension parents can watch for to get ahead of these challenges before they intensify. Here's some things to watch for:

Top Signs of Neurological Tension in Babies

Head tilt or rotation

Neurological tension leads to physical tension. This is often most visible in the head and neck because of how many spinal cord attachments occur in the neck. Babies should begin to have strong head control around 3-5 months. If baby is holding their head up at birth or with in the first month it is a sign of neurological tension. Likewise, if a baby's head is frequently tilted or rotated towards one side it is a sign of tension or torsion in the nervous system. Pay attention if baby has a preferred side the turn to when they sleep, sit in a car seat or breastfeed.

Full-Body Banana or C-Curve

Another sign of neurological tension is when the entire body is involved causing the tension to form a banana shape in a baby as shown in the picture below. Another variation of this is repeated arching of the back in babies.

Before his adjustment a small baby is showing signs of neurological tension

Toe Curling or Zig-Zag Toes

Neurological tension manifest all the way to the toes! When toes are frequently curled or crossing on top of each other it is a sign of neurological tension that is causing the fascia and muscles of the feet. This can also appear later in development when kids start walking and primarily walk on their tippy toes.

Tongue-Tie Challenges

Tongue ties are becoming a popular source of challenges for families with new babies. This is a chicken vs the egg scenario when it comes to tongue ties and neurological tension. Even after a tongue tie revision, neurological tension is typically still present unless corrective action is taken.

Other Signs During Development

Neurological tension is not something that goes away on its own. There are many signs to watch for as your baby develops and learns new skills such as the following: rolling over as a newborn, arching or head banging, myopia of the eye, the "W sit" (a combination of weak core and neurological tension), asymmetrical crawl, "butt scoot" crawl, skipped crawling, tippy toe walking, toe pointing inward or outward, hip tension, delayed milestones, or general asymmetrical movement patterns. There are non-physical symptoms that may present later on such as ear infections, constipation, poor sleep, frequent sickness, challenging behavior, ADHD or Anxiety.

What Causes Infant Neurological Tension?

While there can be multiple causes of neurological tension in newborns, the most common two happen during pregnancy and/or the birth process. During pregnancy, mom and baby share everything. This beautiful connection means that mom and baby share nutrients, blood, emotions, and most importantly neurological regulation.

If mom has a high stress pregnancy, it directly impacts baby's nervous system. Mom's physical tension during pregnancy is another consideration. If her pelvic structures are imbalanced or tense it can cause the shape of the uterus to be distorted and give baby less room to move around. It's like being crammed into a tiny airplane seat for 9 months! Keep reading to learn preventative tips you can utilize during pregnancy.

The most common cause of neurological tension in babies is birth intervention/trauma. Birth is hard. Birth is hard for both mom and baby, even if everything goes well! In the last decade, the use of intervention in birth has skyrocketed. C-Sections are at an all time high. The use of forceps, induction, pain medications, vacuum extraction and manual assistance have become normalized. Most OBs haven't actually witnessed a normal physiological birth because of how common interventions have become. Sometimes these interventions are helpful or even life-saving, but even then there are challenges that come with them.

During birth interventions or birth trauma, there is a common injury that happens in babies. This injury is caused by the high-force pulling, twisting and bending to a babies head and neck. The injury directly impacts the upper neck, which is a place of vital nerve function and where the brain and spinal cord connect. This twisting injury creates a pattern of tension and torsion in the spinal cord and creates stress points throughout their entire nervous system. (Learn more about how birth intervention impacts your baby in this free webinar )

Why is this important?

The brain and nervous system are the body's most vital organ because it controls all other organs and functions in the body. In newborns, the most vital functions are eating/latching, sleeping and pooping. If any of these functions are challenged it is a red flag for nervous system dysfunction. As babies develop and learn new skills, the nervous system is responsible for making neural connections at a rapid rate. In fact, 85% of brain development happens by age 3. If there is stress, tension or torsion trapped in the nervous system (likely from birth trauma) it will impact each phase of development: motor, speech, social, emotional, cognitive, etc.

What Are Treatment Options?

Unfortunately, many parents that suspect something like this in their child often get dismissed by their doctors and hear phrases like, "That's normal" or "They'll grow out of it." If this is the case for you, we see you. AND we're here to bring hope. The medical system isn't trained to recognize or treat neurological challenges like tension and torsion and birth injuries. Here at Radiant Waves Chiropractic, this is the most common reason parents bring their babies in for care.

When you bring your baby in for an Initial Consultation, we will start first by listening. We want to know all about your pregnancy and birth experience and any challenges your baby is currently experiencing. Next, we will perform 2 high-tech neurological scans to get some insight into your baby's nervous system health. These scans are easy, painless and 100% safe to use on babies. These scans help us see where the tension and torsion patterns are in your baby's nervous system. We can also see how deeply rooted these challenges are to know how to best care for your baby.

After seeing your baby's scans, the doctors will write a full report in words that actually makes sense. Your baby will receive a custom plan aimed at releasing this neurological tension, allowing your baby to heal and thrive! The chiropractic adjustments your baby will receive are gentle and effective at releasing that trapped nervous system stress.

These photos are from before and after his gentle adjustments. The first photo you can see how tense and curved his body is. In the second and third photos his body is much calmer, relaxed and aligned!

The results? A happier baby, less fussiness, better latch, better poops, improved immune function, better sleep, less reflux, healthy development and the gift of a balanced nervous system.

What to do next

If you read this and think your baby might be experiencing neurological tension, your next steps will be easy and exciting. Choose one of the following options to get your baby started on the path to healing.

  1. Schedule their scans and consultation online at

  2. Call or text our Care Advocates for scheduling or questions 561-768-9034

  3. If you're not local to South FL, check out the directory at


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