Craniosacral Therapy (CST) for Babies and Children

“I am thoroughly convinced that one of the best things we can do for our children is to have them begin life with smoothly functioning craniosacral mechanisms, a removal of restrictions so their body tissues aren’t burdened by destructive or traumatic memories and very clean energy fields. This can all be accomplished in a very short time within the first few days of life” John E. Upledger DO OMM

What is CST?

Craniosacral Therapy (CST)  is a light-touch, gentle,  yet effective type of hands-on body treatment that is very helpful for babies and children. The pressure exerted does not exceed 5 grams (the weight of a small coin), hence the work is very gentle. The children remain fully clothed on the treatment table, or even on the parent's lap. Sometimes children sit, crawl, walk, stand or play with toys on the floor during the treatment; they don't need to stay still.

Eastern philosophy talks of life having four sufferings: birth, old age, sickness and death. Of these, our passage into the world is the first of many complex experiences and can have elements of significance for both mother and child.

Everything that happens to us is potentially a trauma and these traumata can store themselves in the body and tissues. They can, if unresolved, leading to a demand upon the baby's system, manifesting as upset and symptoms.

The baby has enormous ability to self-correct, but sometimes needs help. This is where CST can be of use.

How Many Treatments?

I am often asked this question. No concrete answer can be given, though I usually say that the number is between 2 and 6, initially a week apart

When to Treat

Put simply, the younger the better; it is never too early to treat. Ideally, the best results can be found with treatment before the age of 5. After this, learned adaptations and compensations begin to can establish themselves. Be sure though - it is never too late.

Craniosacral therapy is effective for the treatment of:

  • Crying - Sleeping Problems
  • Colic
  • Abnormal head shape, maybe following forceps or vacuum delivery
  • Feeding problems
  • Colic, wind and reflux
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Ear or recurrent infections
  • Asthma
  • Strabismus, squint or lazy eye
  • Learning problems
  • Behaviour and mood problems
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorder (See also Sensory Bean Bags)
  • Cerebral palsy and other types of brain damage
  • Fertility
  • Routine evaluation of new-born permits the easy release of strains and restrictions, in both normal and difficult deliveries
Craniosacral Therapy Laurence Hattersley

Crying -Sleeping Problems

Your baby crying and having difficulty getting him/her to settle down to sleep can be a significant challenge to both baby and mother, alike. Adults can have problems during the day. They may even be able to cope with them; work around them. At night, though, they may 'get in the way', preventing them getting to sleep. With a baby, it is no different. Babies are much more in touch with their emotions. Hence, with any upset in their delicate system, they will make it apparent if something is of significance to them.

I have has exhausted mothers telling me about this. A visit to the doctor can be unfruitful. The doctor can perform tests, but if there is nothing that is apparent from a a diagnostic point of view, the mother has her baby given back to her and told, "He/she is fine. They'll grow out of it". 

I often find tension in the system, possibly from a difficult, long or short birth. 

Colic, Wind and Reflux

Colic is a most distressing symptoms for both mother and baby, especially if you have just fed your baby but they won't settle, or even appear to be in distress after feeding.

Experience of CST practitioners suggest that the factors which may cause colic include:

  • Compression of the cranial base (including upper neck) during delivery - particularly in cases of forceps or vacuum delivery
  • Residual trauma due to the (e.g.) the umbilical cord  being cut before the baby is ready to breathe on its own

Other things can cause shock to the baby: bright lights, taking the baby away for weighing, as well as other apparently trivial things can decrease the felling of security in the baby.  This can cause upset to the baby through their Reticular Activating System (RAS) and can upset the balance of their autonomic nervous system. I find that giving the cranial base and the vagus nerve attention can contribute greatly to the resolution of such distress.

Abnormal Head Shape

Mothers have brought babies to me concerned about the shape of their baby's head. It might have a flat area, or is elongated, or bulging somewhere. I often find there was a difficult birth, possibly with a (necessary) vacuum of forceps delivery. 

The head of a baby has bones, but it has a great deal of membranes connecting these bones. A difficult delivery pulls on the bones but, through them, also pulls on the membranes. As all these membranes are interconnected, such tension patterns can express themselves a long way away - even into the pelvis. CST can address this tension distribution, allowing such tensions to normalize. 

Ear or Recurrent Infections

Such infections can make life miserable for both mother and baby. With it, though, you can only give so much Calpol or antibiotics. Unlike the adult, there is very little bone in the baby. There is a great deal of soft tissue and tension patterns under the chin and at the base of the head can upset the natural flow in the tubes connecting the middle ear with the back of the palate. This can result from elements of the birth process. CST can facilitate the release of these tension patterns

Autism or Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Autism is not a condition within itself. It is usually described as Autistic Spectrum Disorder. According to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) it is associated with a list of diagnostic criteria, which changes with every new edition. Facets of this involve having deficits in social interaction and communication. It might be said that difficulties in relationships between parts of the brain can manifest as difficulties in relationships between the child and everything around them.

CST can help this condition. See this video.

Craniosacral Therapy Laurence HattersleyCraniosacral Therapy Laurence HattersleyCraniosacral Therapy Laurence Hattersley


Concussion is usually seen as a mild trauma to the brain, possibly via impact injuries to the head, They were once seen as very transient, but greater attention has been given to them more recently, especially in younger people - in other words in respect to the developing brain. The concept of impact injuries are still of significance, but allowing the person to heal before returning to the activity (sport, for example). Trauma of this nature can be cumulative. CST can be of great help is this recovery process. See a video from the Upledger website of professional sportsmen seeking treatment from concussion.


Wanting to have a baby and when it doesn't happen as we hope, can be of great distress. There can be many affecting factors outside just the confines of hormones and 'ovarian reserve'. Frequently the onus falls upon the mother. I have met mothers who want to be who have looked at me with a face that is a mask of stress. They have been told many things, usually by the Doctor and only in terms of what is wrong with them. 

CST can be of great help in this situation, especially balancing the autonomic system, though even elements of life style can be a contributing factors and overlooked by the couple. One of these could be shift-work. Here is an extract from a radio programme called The Naked Scientist where they talk about how shift work could affect fertility

CST and issues around birth - a summary

Craniosacral Therapy is particularly useful in many ways for the whole process of birthing and childbearing - both for the baby and the mother. A brief summary of the areas it is commonly used in is provided below....

1. General fertility work to facilitate conception

  • Mobility of ovaries and uterus
  • Mobility of pituitary
  • Other things which might reduce ability to conceive : migraines, blocked sinuses
  • General stress reduction and self-help techniques for relaxation

2. Pregnancy term/antenatal:

  • Mobility of uterus to ensure that the baby is more likely to engage in the correct way
  • Release of trapped or crushed soft organs around the womb
  • General stress management, postural work

3. Postnatal: Mother

  • Release of scar tissue from caesarean and episiotomies/tearing/ forceps bruising, including loss of sensation in skin and/or bladder problems - this can all be done fully clothed with skin contact only necessary on the abdomen/belly
  • Release of damage to coccyx or pelvis during birth
  • Release of any damage caused by epidurals (may cause local back pain or headaches)
  • All the above not only help immediately after the birth, but can help to prevent illnesses which might subsequently begin up to 20 or 30 years afterwards due to accumulation of immobile tissue round local adhesions
  • Release of shock / assistance with Post-Natal depression

4. Postnatal: baby

  • Relief from colic and other distress symptoms (including floppy unresponsive babies)
  • May be able to treat some cases of cerebral palsy (better results with rigid type CP)
  • Treatment of malformed cranium due to excessively long engagement, forceps or ventouse
  • Treatment of mother - about 40% of babies "symptoms" are a result of the mother being unable to cope (or being in pain or something else not being quite right) rather than the baby itself having a problem - treating BOTH the baby and the mother usually sorts out any distress the baby might be experiencing
  • Unusual back-arching or stiffness - or inability to lie on front and initiate crawling - these often arise due to restrictions around the base of the skull and in the neck - which usually clear very easily with a few CST treatments.