We see a lot of babies with this type of condition in our practice. So we thought it would be useful to give parents a simple overview of the subject to help parents who aren’t sure what to do.
There are a number of different types of misshapen heads that are frequently grouped together and referred to as ‘flat head syndrome’. We are going to discuss positional plagiocephaly as this is the most common
and usually preventable. Plagiocepahly is when there is a flattening at the back of one side of the head. With a more marked plagiocephaly there is a flatness present but also the ears may seem misaligned and one side of the forehead may bulge. It is called positional plagicephaly because the position that the baby’s head lays on is a significant factor in the development of this kind of misshapen head.
Things to look out for that may warn you that your baby is more vulnerable to developing this condition:
– Is your baby turning their head to one side more than the other?
– When your baby is lying down, do they looked slightly ‘banana shaped’ to one side?
– Does your baby find it more difficult to breastfeed from one side?
– Does one side of the back of your baby’s head appear flatter?
Advice to help your baby develop a good balanced neck mobility and prevent your baby developing a flat head on one side.
1) Positioning – When your baby falls asleep you could gently turn his or her head to face the other way. In the car seat put a rolled up muslin on the side your baby tends to turn or lean to give support.
2) Bottle feeding – Ensure you are feeding your baby in alternate arms.
3) Breastfeeding – positioning is not such a worry in this case. But if your baby has a tight neck it may be they will have difficulty latching making feeding painful on one side. I would suggest getting your baby checked by a cranial osteopath as releasing the neck may make a big difference.
4) Playing – Encourage your baby to look away from the side they prefer by talking, singing and playing with your baby from the other side.
5) Tummy time – This allows your baby’s head to have a break from having constant pressure on the back of their heads. You can start placing your baby on their tummy from birth. A good time to do this is when they are awake and not too tired or hungry. Little and often is the best way to start.