“You treat kids with acupuncture? Really?”

This is a question I get asked often because most don’t know that kids can get acupuncture and that it’s safe and effective.

As an acupuncturist, and a mom, I became passionate about being an advocate of acupuncture for kids. I’ve seen the tremendous benefits for my own kids and how empowered I feel knowing that if they get sick, I can offer a holistic and natural way for them to heal. I’ve also seen many patients benefit from acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

“But wait – you use needles don’t you? For kids? Even babies? Really?”

Yes, but I prefer to call them “taps” instead of needles. And I want to answer some of the most common questions and concerns parents may have when considering getting acupuncture for their child.

What are taps?”

The reason I like to call them “taps” instead of “needles” is because the word “needles” may be scary when explaining acupuncture to kids. Especially if your child’s had a bad experience of getting shots at the doctor or getting their blood drawn. Even some adults, maybe you reading this – also get bad memories of being poked or pricked when they hear “needles.” I want to describe the process to your child in a way they can understand and be open to trying taps. I explain that I’m tapping the points in certain places so I can help them feel better.

“Yeah – but will it hurt?”

The taps I use to treat children (and adults) are not at all like hypodermic needles they use to draw blood or give shots. Taps are fine hair-thin pediatric needles, and when used, give a virtually painless experience.

The most important thing when I first meet your child, is to gain their trust. I have a child centered approach to treatment which means getting feedback from your child whether or not they’re ready to try taps during the session. I never force a child to do a treatment that they’re not comfortable with. If they’re not ready for acupuncture yet, there are non-needle techniques that I can use.

Once I’ve gained your child’s trust, I find that most will eventually try acupuncture.

More on my child-centered approach to treatment…

I became interested in treating babies and children after my son was born. He’s a sensitive kid and quick to read the energy and intention of others. When I took him to see health practitioners, I noticed which ones had a special way with kids versus those that didn’t. They didn’t have to dress up in a clown suit or act a certain way – but it was their intention and the way they talked and listened to my son that was important. This usually determined whether or not my son’s visit was going to be pleasant or not – or more importantly, how receptive he would be to their treatment.

My approach to treating kids is similar to how I want my children to be treated. The child-centered approach I mentioned earlier means being attuned to the needs of your child and asking them to be an active participant in making decisions about their treatment.

I work with your child, never using tricks or coercion, but informing them in every step of the process and getting their feedback. Even babies have an amazing way of communicating and I tune in to what they need most during treatment.

“What are non-needle techniques?”

Some non-needle techniques I use in the clinic may include acupressure, essential oils, pediatric massage, cupping, micro-current and shonishin (a gentle Japanese technique to stimulate acupuncture points).

I also incorporate nutrition and lifestyle recommendations to promote healing and wellness.

Chinese herbal medicine can be the main treatment I use especially for dermatological conditions like eczema, hives and skin rashes, as well as acute respiratory infections such as colds, coughs, and ear infections.

“What happens at my child’s first session?”

At your child’s first appointment, the majority of the time will be spent discussing their health concerns and your goals for treatment. For their visits, I encourage you to bring their favorite item (like a toy, blanket or book – not electronics) to make your child feel more comfortable during the treatment. They can play or engage with it while we do the initial health intake. If there’s something you’d like to discuss that you don’t want your child to hear, I ask you to indicate this when you fill out forms before your first visit.

Depending on the child’s comfort level, we may or may not do a treatment during the first session. Establishing trust with your child is the most important for this first visit.

“What are acupuncture pediatric treatments like? How long do you retain the needles for?”

During my sessions with your child, they’re free to sit on your lap, sit or lay down on the treatment table, on our floor mat — or wherever they’re comfortable in the clinic. Your child can continue to play or read while I work with them to do the treatment.

I don’t need to retain the taps on babies and very young children for very long to give an effective treatment. I’m able to adjust to whatever position is comfortable for them.

For older children who are able to sit or lay comfortably on the treatment table, I usually retain the taps from 5-15 minutes depending on their interest and needs.

“What conditions can be treated by pediatric acupuncture?”

Conditions that pediatric acupuncture works well for include:

  • Dermatological conditions like eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, hives, rashes
  • Allergies, asthma
  • Colds, congestion, cough
  • Ear infections, ear pain
  • Digestions issues, diarrhea, constipation
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety, ADHD/ADD, autism
  • Pain management, injuries

What are your questions about pediatric acupuncture? I’d love to hear from you! If you know someone who can benefit from this information, please share this with them.

Wishing you abundant health,
Melissa