Pediatric Acupuncture


Holistic pediatrician San Diego Pediatrics

Helping Children Thrive Through Better Health and Wellness

Many parents are surprised to hear that acupuncture is a great option for children. It is an understandable response, given the relationship many kids have with needles from a very early age.

Pediatric acupuncture looks a lot different than what many folks imagine, however. In fact, many pediatric acupuncture treatments involve no needles at all. When needles are appropriate, we always use the tiniest pediatric gauge needles available. We often refer to them as “taps” instead of needles, because that is literally what it feels like for most kids – a gentle “tap”. The needles used are ABSOLUTELY NOTHING like the needles your kids have seen in their MD’s office.

Common questions about pediatric acupuncture:

Q: “How do you do acupuncture on a child?”

A: Gently, playfully and with lots of patience. Children, especially babies, are adorable, curious and above all, squirmy! Pediatric acupuncture is very different from the kind of acupuncture you’d receive as an adult, where you lay relatively still for an extended period of time. With pediatric acupuncture and massage, we always follow the child’s lead.  Sometimes they feed during treatment.  Other times they play with toys. Still other times we sing songs or do a demo on their teddy bear. A kiddo receiving acupuncture definitely never has to sit still. Treatment is gentle and flexible, and often includes non-needle techniques like shonishin, micro-current or massage.

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Q: “What does pediatric acupuncture treat?”

A: As far as what pediatric acupuncture can treat, the simple answer is “most things.” Like acupuncture for adults, pediatric acupuncture works with a child’s “whole picture”, treating the root along with manifesting symptoms. This means that we can address most health issues to help support your child’s optimal wellness. See list below for commonly treated conditions.

Integrative pediatric acupuncture is often used for the following:

  • Seasonal allergies
  • Asthma
  • Cold and flu
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Food allergies
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Digestive challenges
  • Bed wetting
  • Recurring bad dreams/trouble sleeping
  • Behavioral issues
  • Autism
  • ADHD
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Much more!

Things to Consider:

  • In the pediatric acupuncture ‘toolbox’, we use both needle-free techniques as well as very gentle needles. Some kids opt for the micro-current device, AKA the “tickle machine”, others like pediatric massage or Shonishin (a type of non-needle acupuncture). Still others choose the “taps”, or pediatric sized needles. Regardless, we always make sure that the child is comfortable and consenting throughout treatment.
  • Pediatric acupuncture is often done without the use of needles.  When needles aHolistic pediatrician san diegore appropriate, we use a special pediatric gauge needle, which is so fine kids really don’t feel them. These needles are absolutely nothing like the needles your kids are used to seeing in your pediatrician’s office.
  • Your child does not need to sit still for most pediatric acupuncture treatments.  My treatments are always age appropriate and fit the needs of the child we are working with.
  • Most kids find pediatric acupuncture relaxing and enjoyable and leave the clinic with a smile on their face.

Treatment modalities may include:

  • Diet and lifestyle modification
  • Gentle Chinese and Japanese acupuncture (often done without the use of needles)
  • Micro-current or laser therapy
  • Sensory integration massage
  • Nutrition and herbal supplementation
  • Functional lab testing


Merritt Jones has been working with the autism community for over 10 years.

With experience ranging from behavioral therapy and ABA to integrative medicine, acupuncture and nutrition, her pediatric training includes formal education, internships and ongoing courses specifically for working with children on the Autism spectrum.  Recently, she is the recipient of a scholarship from the Center for Advanced Acupuncture Pediatrics for a unique course in treating Autism and ADHD.

With a sincere passion for serving the Autism community, Merritt has developed a ‘whole child’ approach to working with children which includes evaluating each child from multiple angles, addressing his or her individual needs, and providing care that fits.

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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) are three of the most commonly diagnosed conditions affecting children today. Children living with one or more of these diagnoses experience the world around them differently than most of us do – often in a way that can make life feel challenging, both for the child and for his or her caretakers.

Having one of these diagnoses does not mean that a person has another, however, these disorders often co-exist in a diagnosis and DO share a common thread – that something in the body is out of balance, resulting in a variety of challenges ranging from difficulty focusing in school to not being able to effectively communicate and express needs.

Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine is ideal for addressing children with autism because it is multi-faceted and approaches the disorder(s) from several angles, treating the root along with the manifesting symptoms.

Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine is not a cure and is not intended to be a replacement to behavioral therapy or other medical treatments.  In fact, acupuncture and integrative medicine can be quite complementary when paired with behavioral and other medical care.

If you have a child with one or more of these conditions, then you are all too familiar with the challenges that come with it. Like so many parents looking to support their children as best they can, you’re wondering what you can do to help your child thrive.

Primary Benefits of Integrative Pediatric Care Include:

  • Supporting effective learning and communication
  • Boosting mood
  • Soothing Anxiety
  • Decreasing undesired behaviors
  • Improving focus
  • Aiding digestion
  • Boosting language skills
  • Improving immune function


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