Place baby supine on your lap or on a table. Engage the baby with clucks and coo’s as you gently stretch one side of the ribcage at a time into a ‘C’ shape. Place one of your hands at baby’s shoulder and the other hand at the baby’s hip and pull in towards yourself. A gentle rocking motion, done at the same time, oftentimes helps to move things along as well as to soothe and reassure baby and mom.
There are a few ways to do this well. The most popular way with Chiropractors is to use the ankles as a hold, placing an index finger across the bottom of baby’s feet (to loosen the grip of your hand around the ankles). You can do this from your lap (a good practice when demonstrating this stretch for the first time) or from your table. If the baby is significantly hyper-tonic in the torso area, I find that using the hips as a hold for the first few times is a gentler way to obtain a good stretch. As baby’s overall tone begins to soften over the next week or so, the ankle hold becomes much easier for baby to tolerate. This stretch is popular with parents because it uses the natural weight of the baby to lengthen and stretch, with no effort or coaxing on their part. I recommend inversions be used at every diaper change if the restrictions are severe. When we use a specific time of transition, like diaper changing, baths, bedtime and naps, parents find it easier to fit all of the needed stretches into their daily routine.
Place baby across your lap facing outwards. Snuggle baby’s lower arm/shoulder between your legs. Place one of your hands at the baby’s shoulder that is facing up and your other hand underneath baby’s downward facing hip. While anchoring firmly the upward facing shoulder, gently lift the baby’s pelvis with your bottom hand (at the hip). This is a gentle, slow ‘C’ motion. The goal is to eventually get the feet at a 90* angle from the shoulder – so the baby’s feet will be aligned with your chin. If the restriction is severe, either at the SCM or the ribcage or both, it will take a few days of inversions, massage and stretching before this happens. Do not rush this stretch. If you meet resistance right away, let the pelvis back down and come up again slowly. I teach parents this stretch by standing behind them and guiding their movements. Always do this stretch on both sides, even if the restriction is uni-lateral.