Ideal Family Chiropractic

Ideal Family Chiropractic, Vagus Nerve

Vagus Nerve Function and Children

Why is Vagus Nerve Health So Important For Our Kids?

The Vagus Nerve is currently a popular topic of discussion. A quick search on Google will yield numerous results with an  life hacks and health-related information. The recent surge in research, biohacking, and natural science has shed light on the remarkable impact that this component of our nervous system can have on our well-being and adaptability.

However, it’s worth noting that the vagus nerve is not only significant for adults but also plays a crucial role in the development, behavior, and sensory comfort of children. Let’s delve into the scientific aspects of an active vagus nerve versus a less active one.

For those immersed in the health world and embracing a holistic lifestyle, the vagus nerve is undoubtedly a familiar term. As a pediatric chiropractor, I would be remiss if I didn’t emphasize the importance of the vagus nerve and its potential benefits for you and your children. It holds the key to addressing many of the health challenges we encounter.

What Is the Vagus Nerve? Turn It Up or Turn It Down

The vagus nerve is a remarkable nerve that originates beneath the skull on both sides and extends throughout the entire body, reaching the heart, lungs, and digestive organs. You might have come across references to the vagus nerve in discussions about the brain-gut or gut-brain connection, which plays a crucial role in digestion. While this is indeed one of the incredible functions of the vagus nerve, its actions are even more comprehensive and vital for our children.

The vagus nerve performs two main functions. When activated, it serves as a sensory relaxer, promoting rest, relaxation, and digestion in the body. On the other hand, when its activity is dampened, it allows the other side of the nervous system to take over—the side associated with heightened alertness, the fight-or-flight response, and a busy brain.

Ideally, what we aim for is a balanced regulation of the vagus nerve, with both its up and down functions working harmoniously. However, in the world we live in, our children often need their vagus nerve turned up because it tends to be suppressed or less active. This is why our little ones may frequently exhibit a busy brain and a heightened fight-or-flight response.

The Vagus Nerve & Rest/Sleep, Emotional Regulation, and Digestive Function

When we enhance the activity of the vagus nerve in our kids, it produces three notable effects. First, it promotes rest and sleep. The vagus nerve enables the body to regulate sensory input, allowing it to filter out external stimuli. This calming effect helps children to fall asleep easier and maintain a peaceful sleep.

Second, the vagus nerve plays a crucial role in emotional regulation, particularly in its relaxed state. When the vagus nerve is less active, the body experiences a fight-or-flight response, as if one were escaping from a bear. As many parents of three-year-olds can attest, this can lead to emotional outbursts and erratic behavior. By increasing vagus nerve activity, we aim to promote emotional stability and regulation in our children.

The third effect pertains to digestion and the intricate brain-gut connection. Digestion is not only essential for the movement of fluids throughout the body but also crucial for a child’s overall comfort and developmental readiness. For infants who are transitioning from bottle or breastfeeding, and are in the process of learning to walk, talk, and incorporate solid foods, proper digestion becomes paramount. If digestion is impaired, it can hinder progress in other developmental milestones. Therefore, the vagus nerve plays a vital role in optimizing sensory, motor, and social systems, as well as facilitating movement and walking, which are important developmental achievements for babies aged six months to one year.

Ideal Family Chiropractic, Vagus Nerve

Birth Trauma, Stress, and Physical Trauma

Chiropractic care plays a pivotal role in influencing the activity of the vagus nerve, especially in pediatric cases. Three main factors commonly impact the vagus nerve in a negative manner, and this is where chiropractors specializing in pediatric care can make a significant difference.

Firstly, birth trauma can affect the vagus nerve. Stressful pregnancies, challenging deliveries involving forceps or vacuum extraction, or even C-sections can immediately diminish vagus nerve activity during the birthing process.

Secondly, the vagus nerve can be influenced by the elevated levels of toxic stress prevalent in today’s environment. Exposure to toxic substances can disrupt the gut-brain communication, leading to imbalances that result in reduced vagus nerve function and the activation of the fight-or-flight response.

Thirdly, physical stressors experienced by children during sports activities. Accidents like falling off bikes, or any major physical trauma can cause tightness and tension in the body, ultimately impacting the vagus nerve and decreasing its activity.

If you are grappling with issues such as sleep disturbances, emotional regulation difficulties, or digestive problems, and have a hunch that they are interconnected, you’re absolutely correct. All these functions are controlled by the vagus nerve.


In our practice, we employ advanced technology called INSiGHT scans to assess the state of the vagus nerve and determine whether it is functioning optimally or not. If the vagus nerve activity is enhanced, it is likely that your child will experience easier regulation, restfulness, improved digestion, and overall adaptability.

On the other hand, if the vagus nerve activity is diminished, your child may desire these positive outcomes but struggle to achieve them. This is where our expertise comes into play, as we aim to provide comprehensive support. We will develop a personalized care plan to help your child reach their full potential and overcome any obstacles they may face.