WHAT IS ACUPUNCTURE LIKE FOR BABIES & CHILDREN?
Babies and children will get the same in depth history taking on initial consultation as adults but their treatment will differ from here.
Children are often 'strong responders' and will need only minimal acupuncture stimulation (few points needled) and the`use extremely fine needles. For babies this may mean only having 1-2 acupuncture points needing to be gently simulated for a very short amount of time for the same effect as you would gain on an adult.
What if my child is anxious about having acupuncture?
Children may feel anxious about having acupuncture but they needn't be and often can surprise us in their grown up attitude towards it. They can be reassured that the needles are very fine and small (about the size of a hair) and give a different sensation called 'Di-qi' that feels a bit strange. Everyone feels this sensation slightly differently and it has been described as achy and dull or like a twinge. It is not like having an injection, having your blood taken or even getting a catch scratch as the needles are far smaller and fine.
Babies can be offered very effective distraction techniques whilst the are having treatment with sensory toys or even just their caregiver as the distraction.
For older children, reassurance, explanation and ownership over the of the decision to have acupuncture are vital in engagement and to be offered treatment. Acupuncture cannot be engaged with against a child's will and should be a positive experience for them. It can often be helpful to have a positive attitude about acupuncture in the family and the caregiver may also be asked to have some acupuncture in front if the child to help reduce any treatment anxiety and normalise it.
Treatment will be guided by the child's response as it would in an adult, so if they feel the sensation is too strong or wish to stop, then the sessions will be guided by that. As previously mentioned, as they are likely to be strong responder sometimes they only need minimal stimulation (time with the small fine needles), sometimes only seconds and only in a few key acupuncture points for it to be very effective.
What are the effects of acupuncture in children?
Similar to adults, after the session, the symptoms being treated can get better straight away. They may have a temporary relief before going back to as before or just a bit better than before. They may also get temporary exacerbation of symptoms before they get better or may have no change in symptoms. It is hard to tell before treatment starts how they will respond but a fair amount of people get a positive response even if it is from a general sense of wellbeing afterwards.
Children will likely gain the same benefits as adults from acupuncture, so not only treatment of the primary condition but also a sense of relaxation, or conversely renewed energy and wellbeing. They can feel tired and sleepy afterwards.