Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy Videos

Why Are Babies Fussy?

Why Are Babies Fussy? | Dr. Barry Gillespie Explores Fussy Babies Under the Lens of Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy

Why are babies fussy? Babies are fussy because they’re tight. I’m Dr. Barry Gillespie. I practice in the King of Prussia Medical Center in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, in the United States of America.

This video applies to families who have a fussy baby and the professionals who care for them.

Fussy babies have been around since the beginning of time. Having worked on over a thousand fussy babies since 1980, I’m here to show you how a fussy baby can become a happy baby.


I want to describe the conditions, the fussy conditions that we deal with. We deal with babies who have latching problems where they have difficulty latching on or they have difficulty sucking and they have difficulty swallowing. And we also see babies who have strained where there’s reflux and where they’re tight here where they are colicky. And we see babies who have indigestion and gas, babies who are generally not napping well. We also see babies have some slight misalignment, they have strabismus. We also see babies who have stridor tightness in their throat. And we see babies who have pyloric stenosis where they’re tight between their stomach and their small intestine. And we see babies who have clubfoot where a foot is turned in, and that could be corrected with our therapy.

Why Are Babies Fussy? | Babies Are Fussy Because Their Fascia, or Connective Tissue, Is Tight

We’ve talked about fussy babies. Why are babies fussy? They’re fussy because they’re tight, and what I mean by tight is their connective tissue or their fascia in their bodies is tight. And you might say, “Well, what is fascia?” Fascia is the connective tissue that holds everything in our body together. It’s around all of the muscle cells. Each muscle cell is about the size of a hair, so if you can picture your hair as a muscle cell, and the Saran Wrap layering around it is fascia. So every muscle cell that you have in your body is surrounded by fascia. So any type of muscle that you have in your body there’s fascia with it.

If there’s any trauma, if there’s any birth trauma to this fascia it becomes tight, it can become restrictive, it can become bound down. And this is what we see with our newborns, this is what we see with our infants.

So the tightness can extend throughout the body, the fascia web is from head to toe, finger to finger. It’s this web of connective tissue that connects everything together in the body. And for professionals when I was taking my general anatomy dissection in 1969 I remember the professor coming over and I was working in the abdominal area and the trunk, and he came over and said, “Well, I just cut away that fascia around the heart and the organs. When you want to see the organs you just cut that away, it really doesn’t do anything, there’s no application for it.” But we found there is a tremendous application for fascia.

In histology, the study of microscopic tissues, we studied fascia—the endomysium, the perimysium and the epimysium—and we all learned, we all studied these in school, and we all learned these terms for the tests and we memorize them and we gave them back on that test and the next week we forgot them because it didn’t have any application. Fascia really didn’t have any application in the body. It was just a tissue there that just held everything together, and that was about it. But what we’re finding is, if there’s trauma, birth trauma, it can become very tight, and we’ll talk about that in a minute.

Why are babies fussy - conditions - Gillespie Approach - Craniosacral Fascial Therapy

Why Are Babies Fussy? | What Causes Tightness? | Birth Trauma Is Connected to Tightness in Babies

What causes tightness? We believe birth trauma causes tightness, that will cause tightness in the soft tissue, in the fascial system of the body. Well, what can happen? Well, if you look at delivery there are certain conditions where there’s a difficult delivery, if there’s a lot of pressure, if vacuum suction is used where the vacuum suction is pulling on the head it can create strain in the head and the neck and the body. If forceps are used to place around the head and clamped on to the head and you’re being twisted and pulled out by the forceps, that can create fascial strain in the body.

If the cord is wrapped, the umbilical cord is wrapped around your throat or wrapped around your body; it can create pressure on your throat and create fascial strain here and throughout your body, your arms, your legs, your trunk. You can also have strain if you have neonatal surgery. If you’re having heart surgery, if you’re having any type of surgery done in the first few days of life, any type of surgical procedure invades in into this fascial web and creates tightness. And you can also see that with tongue tied surgery revision, the tongue tie revision of the lip tie surgery and also circumcision.

So these are all types of invasions so to speak where their soft tissue pressure can be a big part of the infant’s problems.

Why Are Babies Fussy? | Tight Fascia Can Cause Health Conditions Such As an Inability to Latch on, Suck and Swallow

Now to apply that trauma that I just discussed to the infant’s body, what can happen is if there’s pressure on the head and on the throat, that could be a harbinger of nursing issues being able to latch on, being able to suck, being able to swallow. And if you can’t suck, swallow, and breathe we see babies that have failure to thrive, and they have difficulty gaining weight, they have difficulty … . There’s some suck, swallow, and breathe that they have trouble with. And our therapy starts to free that area up the oral pharyngeal area so they can nurse well.

And usually if there’s a problem with reflux you may see strain in their throat where their esophagus or down in their diaphragm right here or in their stomach right here, and those babies are vomiting, they’re refluxing, they’re tossing up their food.

If we have indigestion and gas then we’re going to see fascial strain down a little bit further along the stomach and the pancreas, and on the right side the liver and the gallbladder. These digestive organs will be tight and it will create an indigestion or a gas.

If your baby has constipation we usually see fascial tightness in the small intestine and the large intestine and down in the bowels. The fascia will be tight here. Also if your baby has colic, there’s usually a lot of pressure, a lot of pain in the abdominal area, the fascia is usually very, very tight here. It may go down into the pelvic floor, and when we feel that we can feel the strain in the pelvic floor pulling into the abdominal cavity.

If we have situations like stridor, there’s usually a lot of pressure in the throat. Fascial strain right in this area. We also may see laryngomalacia that goes along with stridor if there’s pressure on the throat. A lot of times if there’s neck pressure, this fascia in the neck will pull up into the eyes and causes strabismus where the eyes aren’t in perfect alignment. If one eye is a little bit lazy or wall-eyed or it’s a little bit off, a lot of times we see there’s fascial strain from the shoulder and the neck pulling into that eye.

If we have a situation like pyloric stenosis between the stomach and the small intestine, usually at that pyloric valve there’s pressure, there’s fascial pressure which closes that valve and when the baby nurses the chime can’t go from the stomach to the intestine and it just shoots back up through the mouth and it creates a projectile vomiting.

And with the clubfoot, we believe that the baby has in-utero compressive strain that they were in a certain situation in utero where their foot was turned in. So if we can get to the baby soon enough, the baby’s fascia can release and correct possibly without casting or without surgery.

Why Are Babies Fussy? | Beyond Birth Trauma, Babies May Suffer from Strain While in Utero

When we talk about strain patterns the labor is very important, and what happens in utero is also important where there’s an actual compressive strain in utero, and it’s very, very important.

Our goal is for every baby on the planet to be checked for tightness at birth, to see if there was birth trauma creating restriction in their body. So if there was you would have therapy when you’re minutes old, when you’re ten minutes old you have your first therapy. And all through that first day of your life if you needed more therapy would have it as needed. So you have these sessions over the first 24, 36 hours that you’re in the hospital, so you’re continually loosening up, so by the time your family leaves and you go home you’re a happy baby. You’re calm, you’re relaxed, you’re able to nurse well, you’re able to breathe well, you’re able to digest well, you’re able to poop well, and you’re able to nap well. You’re a happy baby. This is what we want for every baby on the planet.

Why Are Babies Fussy? | With Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy, Babies Are Helped to Relieve Themselves of Fascial Strain Through the Help of a CFT Therapist

As far as therapy you might be wondering, “Well, what do you actually do with the babies?” What we do with the babies is we just hold them and we just feel and we just listen to them, we listen for tightness. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed but when you have your baby sometimes they will be laying down or you pick them up and they will kind of go into a stretch where they just start to stretch their arms and neck and they go into this twist, and they go with it and they will go into this strain pattern, it’s actually an old fascial strain pattern they picked up as birth trauma.

And what I’m doing is I’m just holding them, allowing them to go into this twist. And I’m following them and then I’m listening to their body and they may be going into a twist and a strain, and I’ll feel the fascia in their body getting very, very tight, and then I’ll feel the body release it and where the body lets go of this strain. And that’s the key to therapy. You want to feel the fascia getting tight, but the whole idea of being loose is you want to feel the strain releasing from the newborn’s body and they’re getting loose where they’re a little bit more relaxed, a little bit calmer. And I will hold them. … I can either hold them in their legs, in their pelvis, in their trunk, in their head and neck and around their throat, up into their face and their eyes. I can go intraorally where we’re holding the TMJ, where we’re holding the palate and the tongue, and the floor of the mouth. We do a lot of intraoral work with babies who have lip tie and tongue tie or if they have trouble nursing where they have trouble sucking and/or their tongue clicks and they’re tight, they’re fascia is very tight intraorally.

So we use different techniques. What we don’t do is we don’t manipulate the baby. I’m not an osteopathic physician where I’m actually manipulating the baby. And I’m not adjusting the baby, I’m not a chiropractor where I’m actually trying to adjust the spine or adjust the baby. I’m a therapist, and we’re just trying to listen to the baby. I’m a soft tissue therapist listening to the fascia, listening to the fascial strain and the baby, where they’re tight.

And you can almost literally tell whatever they come in with. If they have colic they’re going to be tight in the abdominal area. If they have trouble breathing they’re going to have tightness in their diaphragm. The diaphragm is this large muscle that separates the lungs from the digestive organs, that’s your main breathing muscle, the fascia in there is going to be tight and you may have a baby that’s hiccupping, and that kind of tells us that there’s some tightness in the diaphragm. You may have a baby who’s coughing a lot, it tells us there’s tightness in the diaphragm. So the fascia here in the diaphragm needs to be released.

And whatever your baby is coming in with, whether it’d be throat issues, swallowing issues, general fussiness, I’m looking at fascial strain in the whole body. So what I’m starting with an infant I usually start down with the feet and the arches and check to see if they’re tight, and I’ll work my way up through the knees and the legs and the hips. And we’ll just check through the whole body, and that’s what I’ll do with the session.

Why Are Babies Fussy? | With Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy, Dr. Barry Gillespie Says, “I’m a Therapist Trying to Help Loosen Them up from the Birth Trauma That They’ve Had”

I always really try to work in the mother’s lap, so the baby is in mom’s lap, baby’s up against mom’s chest. So mom is always holding baby, and I’m just there as the annoying man or the annoying therapist who is helping them loosen up. I’m not trying to fix them, I’m not trying to cure them of anything. I’m just a therapist trying to help loosen them up from the birth trauma that they’ve had.

They may have had in utero birth trauma, compressive strain. They may have had long labor where the labor was hours and hours of compressive strain. They may have had a difficult delivery, then they’ve had the cord wrapped. They have gotten stuck in their mother’s pelvis where they had shoulder dystocia where a shoulder got stuck and now they have shoulder issues. So, there’s all kinds of birth trauma here that needs to be mitigated, and we believe the best possible time is in the golden hour.

In medicine there’s a golden hour of as soon as there’s a trauma you want to help the body release it as soon as possible. So the best time would be right after birth to look at these babies, to look at your baby. If you’re a birth professional and you say, “Oh, this baby’s had a tough delivery and they’re not happy.” They’re not happy because they’re tight, and let’s help loosen them up in that first hour, the first hours of life, so they can go home as a happy baby.

So I hope you enjoyed the video, and if you did if you could press the like button and share with all your friends, because we want happy babies everywhere in the world. If you need more information you can go to my website GillespieApproach.com. On that website, you’ll see about 500 stories that I’ve written about happy babies and fussy babies, and you may see your baby in those conditions. Or if you’re a birth professional you can go see and read about what we’ve done in the last 10 years.

If you’re interested in training, you can go to our seminar website, CraniosacralFascialTherapy.com, and you’ll see my teachers, Kim Sherlock and Holly Steflik, and they teach the seminars to show you how to do it if you’re a professional.

We also have a Facebook group if you’re interested in our continuing stories, our continuing discoveries, and you can follow us in that group to keep up with the latest in our work. So again, thank you for watching and please come join us so every baby in the planet can be a happy baby.


Read a related story by Dr. Barry Gillespie, “Why Is My Baby So Fussy?”, in Fruit-Powered Digest.

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Dr. Barry Gillespie

Dr. Barry Gillespie founded Gillespie Approach–Craniosacral Fascial Therapy, which provides patients with a freely moving brain, spinal cord and fascial web, all critical to optimal health. Dr. Barry Gillespie also created the Baby Brain Score and discovered effective therapeutic techniques for newborns and infants. Read more about Dr. Barry Gillespie.

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