What's a baby got to be tense about? (What is tension?)
If you've been following me on Instagram, I've been sharing some resources from others regarding infants, "tension", feeding, and development. "Tension" seems to be a hot term these days. But why would a baby be tense? Certainly they aren't worried about how the stock market is doing, or the state of the pandemic. Their boss isn't hounding them about their productivity standards... What causes "tension" in babies and how does PT help?
To answer this, let's talk about what some practitioners mean when they refer to "tension" in babies.
When you visit the pediatrician or are working with an IBCLC or lactation professional, often the practitioners are assessing your baby head to toe and typically asking how feeding and digestion are going. They will ask about how often baby is soiling diapers, and advice may vary on how often is "normal" in breastfed babies. You as the parent may have picked up on signs of digestive discomfort such as reflux or excessive spitting up, difficulty burping after feeds, gassy tummy, colic or other behaviors which can be indicative of digestive discomfort such as arching the back during or after feeds.
Your doctor, LC, or you may pick up on some observations such as balled or clenched fists, elevated shoulders, a preferential side toward which baby turns and/or tilts their head, or a curvature or rotation of the whole torso (see pic below of my youngest). Baby may snore and sleep or rest with their mouth open.
Observations of increased "tension" in newborns may be balled or clenched fists, elevated shoulders, a preferential side toward which baby turns and/or tilts their head, or a curvature or rotation of the whole torso.
Some other things may be increased fussiness or crying (aka colic), discomfort in the carseat, poor tolerance to tummy time, difficulty putting baby down to sleep (wants to contact nap or difficulty transferring from arms to crib).