Ask the baby expert #94: “I think my baby has torticollis! What do I do???”
If I had to answer this questions in 7 words I would say this:
More tummy time and go to physical therapy!
But, luck for you, I will elaborate a little more. 😉
First, if you are not sure what torticollis is, don’t worry! I’ve got you covered!
Read this post first: “What is Torticollis?”
Next, follow these simple steps–in order of importance:
1. Talk to your doctor as soon as you notice it.
Don’t wait for them to point it out. YOU stare at your baby and take a million pictures EVERY DAY, so YOU will notice it first!
If you’re not sure and don’t want to rush to the doctor, send me some pictures of your baby as a newborn and now in the car seat and on his back, and schedule a free 30-min consult. I’ll connect with you within 48 hours if you put “torticollis” in your request message.
2. Advocate for your child and ask for a referral to physical therapy!
Starting treatment as soon as you suspect torticollis will dramatically improve the outcome. “Waiting until she grows out of it” is not good medical advice in this situation!
All pediatric PTs will have experience treating babies with torticollis, but some actually specialize in it (like me!). You are allowed to go to any therapy clinic you want, regardless of what your doctor recommends, so if you want a specialist you may have to ask around.
3. Get your baby off her back and onto her tummy!
Your baby can resolve–or as least improve– torticollis in tummy time by lifting her head and turning it side to side, starting on day one! More tummy time = more stretching. More tummy time = less time laying on her back on a hard surface, which leads to flat head syndrome and worsening torticollis!
For more info on tummy time, read:
4. Limit the amount of time your baby spends in the car seat, swing, or on his back while awake.
Babies skull bones are soft and mobile. If the head rests on flat surfaces too much, the head gets flat, usually on the same side as the tight neck muscles, but sometimes it’s on the opposite side! Torticollis can be a little confusing, so feel free to reach out to me if you need clarification and/or read more about flat head syndrome here:
5. Change the set up of the nursery and home
Observe what your baby looks at throughout the day. For example:
If he’s always looking the right in his crib because he likes the wallpaper or mobile or light up toy on his right, lay him down the opposite direction every time you put him down. Then if he wants to look at it, he has to turn his head to the left.
Observe what else he tends to stare at around the house like TVs, mirrors, lights, pets and people! You can hold him or position him so the favorite objects are on his left. Or more simply put, make the view to the right really boring (like a blank wall) so he wants to look to the left!
Are you thinking, “Ha! Easier said than done, lady!”
Don’t worry busy mommas with lots of kids! I’ve got some tricks for you. Babies in daycare and babies with multiple siblings spend a great deal more time on flat surfaces, inevitably. If you aren’t able to limit your baby’s time on a flat surface, try these positioning tricks in the car seat or swing.
♥ Use blanket rolls to keep the head and trunk neutral in the car seat. See this Image from thecarseatlady.com
♥ In the swing, you can use a blanket roll behind your baby’s back on the tight/flat side. This props your baby in a partial side-lying position, allowing the head to fall to the other side. (Reach out if this seems too confusing, too!)
**Please be sure baby is buckled in and closely supervised in the swing!**
**DO NOT USE ANY ROLLS OR POSITIONING DEVICES IN THE CRIB WHEN BABY IS SLEEPING UNSUPERVISED.** (Read this post about SIDS prevention)
Video: “Preventing Torticollis and Plagiocephaly: How to Use Blanket Rolls for Proper Positioning in the Car Seat and Swing” (Coming soon!)
Video: “Physical Therapy Stretches for Torticollis”
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Here are some products that I recommend for preventing torticollis and plagiocephaly:
(These are Amazon Affiliate links. This means if you click on the image and order anything from Amazon through this link, I will receive a very small commission AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU. Thank you for your support!)
Would you like some advice or recommendations specific to you and your baby? Sign up for a free consult here! (No tricks, no obligations!)
Do you have any questions? Please reach out or leave a comment below!
Do you have other tricks and tips for improving torticollis or preventing flat head syndrome?
Thanks for reading! I hope this helps. Please comment and share! It will help my posts be visible by more people that would benefit from this information. Thanks! ♥