Here at Baby Begin, we are firm believers that, for the most part, babies should not cry during therapy that treats torticollis. We do not hold the belief that they should just suffer through it just to get the stretch no matter what. Not only is it miserable for everyone, it is actually counterproductive. The baby is stressed and resisting your attempts, making the muscles even tighter. We try really hard to find ways to stretch the baby’s neck that are effective but gentle and well-tolerated by the baby. This works most of the time.
On occasion though, we work with babies who simply just don’t like to be messed with. They would rather just hang out on their back, with a nice tilted head sucking on their dominant hand. They disagree with the importance of midline positioning – I mean – who cares right? They certainly don’t want to work on tummy time – too hard. And rolling? Who needs it? “My mommy gets me everything I need, even before I need it.” So, they pitch a fit when that darn therapist comes in and starts insisting on these crazy activities.
If we determine that the exercises/activities are not hurting the baby and the resistance is more behavioral (yes, babies can manipulate us from much younger ages than you think), then we will push the issue a little. This is important for several reasons. First, we need to get the stretches in. We need to make sure that neck is stretched properly and consistently. Secondly, we need to gently encourage the baby to tolerate touching, handling and doing things that, at first, seem difficult. After a session or two, we typically see that the baby is much easier to work with and enjoys the treatment.
As a parent, sometimes it helps if you step away. Babies pick up on our anxiety, and if the baby sees a concerned look on your face or senses that you are worried, they think something is wrong and will react to that. I often suggest that the parent go to the kitchen to “clean some dishes” and just watch from there. They can see the baby and what we are doing, but the baby doesn’t see the parent. Or sometimes, I will take the baby and just walk around the house, where the parent isn’t. We can then work on the exercises and address any behavior issues head on. Most of the time, this works like a charm.
So if you are having trouble during treatment for torticollis, ask your therapist if they think this is a good option. It may just be enough to ease the stress on everyone and make therapy time fun and productive. We are used to babies and love them. We have worked with babies for years and are not affected by the crying. Please don’t apologize. We love your baby, fussing or not!