5 Easy Things You Can Do to Prevent Flat Head Syndrome
Hello, dear readers! Thanks for coming! Don’t worry, this one is SHORTish and SWEET!
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This post just focuses on the prevention of flat head syndrome. If you want to know more about the causes, diagnoses, and treatment of flat head syndrome, plagiocephaly, and torticollis, click to:
These are my top 5 suggestions for preventing flat head syndrome:
1. More, more, more tummy time!
If you didn’t already know, I’m a tummy time activist. 😉 I can’t emphasize enough how important it is and most pediatricians aren’t even mentioning it at the 2-month appointment! I’ve had so many parents tell me they don’t do tummy time with their baby because “the doctor didn’t tell them it was safe.” Agghh! START TUMMY TIME ON DAY ONE! Your baby won’t hate it if he’s done it since he was born!
To learn more about tummy time, read these two posts:
2. Change baby’s position in bed to prevent flat head syndrome
I think most parents have heard this one. Alternate the direction you lay your baby down in his crib. One night his head is to your right, the other night it’s to the left. Think about how baby’s room is arranged. If there is something your baby really likes looking at while laying on his flat spot, move it to the other side or turn him around. I don’t recommend mobiles hanging over cribs in general, (post about a baby’s sleep environment coming soon,) but if you have one and your baby likes it, make sure to position it so he is not laying on his flat spot while looking at it.
Safety warning: It is dangerous to put any positioning wedges or pillows in the crib with your baby despite what the manufacturers are telling you. Anything other than a crib mattress and tight fitting sheet increases the risk of your baby dying of SIDS. (Read more about SIDS here.) (See the AAP’s updated, 2016 recommendations for prevention of SIDS here)
3. Wear baby more often to prevent flat head syndrome
Baby wearing is beneficial in so many ways. It helps with transitioning from the womb (the 4th trimester,) bonding, and breastfeeding. Yu can be hand free, which is great for multi-tasking mom duties, and you burn a few more calories when you have baby packed on to you!
But what’s best is your baby is never laying on a flat spot when you are wearing him! Win-win!
(And you don’t have to be a part of any baby-wearing extremist groups. Mommas should support mommas no matter how they carry their babies.)
Here are a few examples of popular (meaning comfortable) babywearing carriers.
4. Limit the time baby is in a “container” to prevent flat head syndrome
A lot of parents rely on the car seat carrier and bouncers and swings to “hold” their babies. (Pediatric therapists call these “baby containers.”) Anything that has a flat surface behind baby’s head will worsen the flat spot. One a baby has a flat spot, they will always prefer laying on it and it becomes more and more difficult for them to move off of it.
Think of a bowl with a flat bottom. Does the bowl rest easily on the round portion? No. Does the bowl roll off the flat spot onto the round portion easily? No. It’s the same concept for a baby with a flat head.
Baby containers and putting a baby flat on his back when he’s awake are the biggest reason why the flattening gets worse over time.
5. Limit the time baby spends on her back on the floor to prevent flat head syndrome
There are many other positions you can put your baby in on the floor other than on her back. Side-lying, tummy, 3/4 turn, for example. If she must be on her back, try putting a curved surface under her head. But keep in mind, tummy time is imperative to early infant development and future “normal” development.
I recommend not buying a “Baby Gym”. A great alternative is the Boppy Tummy Time Play Mat, Sea Explorers/Gray by Boppy
But Wait! There’s More!
If your baby already has flat head syndrome or torticollis, it’s not too late! Take action! The sooner you get treatment, the more progress we can make!
- Make an appointment with your doctor and tell her you are concerned! “I’m noticing a flat spot/ tight neck muscles/turning only one way/ always tilting to the right– and I am concerned it’s getting worse!”
- Ask her questions about reflux. “I heard this could be related to reflux?“
- Get an evaluation from a pediatric physical therapist as soon as possible! You don’t have to wait for the doctor to recommend therapy, tell them you WANT your baby to be seen by a physical therapist. Most pediatricians are happy to refer if parents express their concerns.
- Keep your baby off the flat spot! No laying baby on her back on the floor or anywhere else unless you are changing a diaper or putting her to sleep! (Please continue to put her to sleep on her back in her own bed without soft bedding or bumpers…a flat spot is way easier to deal with than losing your baby. Only YOUR baby’s pediatrician can make an exception to this rule.)
- Ramp up the tummy time, keep baby out of containers that have a flat hard surface behind her head (car seats, swings, etc), wear your baby in a sling or body carrier, and everything else that is mentioned in the first half of this post!
Ok, Mommas and Dadas! It’s your turn to talk!
Are you struggling with tummy time or any of the other ideas I mentioned?
Are you concerned and don’t know what to do?
Have no fear! Ask the Baby Expert!
Leave a comment or send me an email. I would love to help you in any way I can!
Do you have any great tips for preventing flat head syndrome that weren’t mentioned in this post? Sharing is caring! Mommas need to support other mommas!
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