Unanswered Question: Is cranio-sacral therapy useful in the management of crying babies?

An eight week old baby is admitted with mild bronchiolitis. His parents mention that he has always cried a lot and that he is having a course of cranio-sacral therapy to try and improve things. You wonder whether there is any evidence for this.

What do you think? Any evidence, experiences or the like in cranio-sacral therapy?

Report by:

Emma Bradley, SpR Paediatrics, Bath

Fiona Finlay, Consultant Paediatrician, Bath

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  • Christine R-Bennett

    I have seen three young babies to date in my office using Upledger CranioSacral therapy. Those babies were miserable, after a couple of treatments they all were doing great. And they still are.
    So yes, it is very valuable.

  • There are two forms of Craniosacral therapy: I am a member of the Cranosacral Therapy Association, not the Upledger school (who write it as CranioSacral.)
    I am a craniosacral therapist without the capital S and work a lot with babies who are restless, crying or have “colic”.
    My impression is that many of them are still shocked and confused from the process of birth, particulary if there is immediate separation from the mother. They respond well to treatment, and the parents are often also relieved to have their stories heard and handle the babies in a more relaxed fashion.
    In about 90% if cases the parents report a more peaceful relaxed baby after 2 or 3 sessions. I expect this and if it doesn’t happen refer them back to ther doctors to check for deeper causes of discomfort.
    Vivien Ray

  • I practice and teach infant Craniosacral Therapy (CST) in Portland, Oregon. There are no controlled studies showing the benefits of CST for colicky (or not colicky) infants. However, in my private practice and those of my former students I see fantastic results. Because the work is so gentle we can be sure we aren’t causing harm.

    I wish I could point to more evidence-based data, though. Research is so expensive to conduct. The work (CST) clearly helps babies feel more comfortable in their bodies. I also think we are probably relieving some (sub-clinical from an MD’s perspective) vagus nerve compression in the colicky set.

    We have fantastic results with suck and latch issues and clearing fluid from middle ears, too.