With the prevalence of babies sleeping on their backs to prevent SIDS, more and more parents are noticing that they have what appears to be a flat head baby. But sleeping on their backs is not the only reason that babies develop a flat head. The newborn head shape is flexible to accommodate their rapidly growing brains, so it’s easy for an infant to become a flat head baby if he or she spends a great deal of time in various carriers. Car seats, swings, bouncy seats – all of these conveniences, which sometimes seem like a necessity in our busy lives, can give an infant Flat Head Syndrome. Of course, some babies develop this condition, also called plagiocephaly, in the womb or during a vaginal birth. If you think your baby has a flat head, what can you do?
First, you’ll want to consult with a professional, to determine whether you really do have a flat head baby. Looking at your own baby, it’s often hard to be objective. Sometimes parents worry over what they perceive to be a problem, when it’s actually within the normal range. While a severely flat head is obvious, there are certainly milder cases that could benefit from attention. Since early intervention is important, get an objective opinion as soon as you can.
In a mild case of Flat Head Syndrome, or plagiocephaly, you might notice a flattening on the back of the head. This can happen on one side of the head or all the way across the back. A mild case might not be noticeable once the child has a full head of hair, but it’s still a good idea to act quickly to keep it from getting worse. Make sure your baby gets 30 minutes of tummy time each day, and gently reposition his or her head to keep him from always sleeping the same way. Limit the use of swings, car seats, carriers and any other “container” that causes your baby to put pressure on his or her skull to no more than 3 hours per day. Sometimes, a mildly flat head can correct itself.
If a baby has moderate plagiocephaly, the ears may appear misaligned. The forehead might be flatter on one side, and one cheek may seem larger than the other. Don’t worry! Repositioning and maximizing tummy time can still help. It’s also helpful to seek professional assistance from someone who can teach you gentle exercises to do with your flat head baby. Don’t let your baby stay on his or her back while awake, and change his or her position often while eating, sleeping or being held.
Severe flat head syndrome is obvious because the head appears severely misshapen. Doctors consider a difference of 20mm between the diameter of one side of the head and the other to be severe Flat Head Syndrome. If this describes your baby, consult your pediatrician for referrals to a specialist who can help. However, be aware that even cases of severe plagiocephaly are often correctable through physical therapy and other non-invasive methods.
If your baby does not yet have a problem, preventing flat head is possible by being vigilant about repositioning and tummy time. For Flat Head Syndrome, prevention is always best. Fortunately, the experts at Baby Begin can help with prevention and correction of plagiocephaly. The most important thing you can do for your flat head baby is to get as much information and assistance as you can, as early as you can. For more information about this condition, please visit our website or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.