Have you ever seen a mom start bouncing and swaying side to side as they try to soothe their crying baby? Maybe you also started to bounce and sway and you weren’t even the one holding the baby!?
If you have ever held a baby or have kids of your own, you know that by dancing, bouncing and swaying side to side, it can help calm and soothe the baby. You don’t even have to be a good dancer and it works! So why do we as parents innately do this and why does it work?
Tone is the vibration in which we experience life. Tone can be high, which would be like a tight baby, or low in the case of a floppy baby. The tone of the postural muscles influences the physiology of the vestibular system.
The vestibular system is the sensory system located in the inner ear used to coordinate eye movement, balance and to integrate movement and spatial orientation.
Tone is important in the proper development of the brain and nervous system and is highly dependent on the function of the head and neck.
When the neck is tight due to subluxations (spinal misalignments) then the tone of the postural muscles increases to create more stability in the core and throughout the spine and nervous system. This is often noted as a head tilt in infancy, or a tight baby who wolds their head up from day one.
This action is mediated through the vestibular system and is coordinated with other neural pathways important in building the brain including the frontal and prefrontal cortex.
So, what does all this have to do with bouncing babies?
Well, if the child is subluxated and they are tight or floppy, then the vestibular system is not getting proper input from the head and neck. This often leads to babies being fussier and harder to soothe because their body is stuck in a state of sympathetic overload i.e. STRESS!
By bouncing and swaying you stimulate the semi-circular canals in the inner ear (vestibular system) which allows the baby’s nervous system to calm down. This works even better on babies who are not subluxated because they have been adjusted by a Chiropractor and their head, neck and nervous system are functioning optimally.
For well-adjusted babies, the bouncing is just more good neural input which is like food for a growing brain!
So, parents make sure you know how to move and groove by doing baby wearing and dancing when they are upset. But don’t exhaust yourself thinking that you always have to pick them up! Teach them how to do tummy time and track with their eyes by playing with them on the floor.
By spending time prone on their stomach with their head up and looking side to side, it stimulates the same pathways in the vestibular system that bouncing does. These major milestones like holding the head up and tracking are critical for higher brain development and are best achieved when a baby is free of nerve interference.
So, whether to have a calmer and happier baby, or to achieve optimal development and wellness, please make sure your kids are getting checked by a pediatric trained Chiropractor!