What Will Prevent Flat Head Syndrome
Flat head syndrome can be prevented by adjusting your babys position. Flat spots form when your baby spends too much time with their head in one position. You can help prevent flattened areas by encouraging tummy time, alternating their head position, holding your baby, and frequently moving them between places .
The Back To Sleep Campaign And Flat Head Syndrome
Ever since the Back to Sleep Campaign in the 1990s, parents have been encouraged to place their babies on their backs to sleep to minimise the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome . While this advice is correct, the incidence of flat head syndrome has shot up as a side effect of babies spending too much time on their backs both whilst awake and asleep.
Over the past couple of decades, manufacturers have developed all manner of products designed to make parents lives easier, from buggies and prams to carrycots and car seats. This has had the undesirable effect of creating what has been termed a generation of bucket babies, contributing further to the increased incidence of flat head syndrome.
Carrying your baby correctly doesnt only help to prevent flat head syndrome. It also promotes the healthy development of muscles in the upper body and reduces the likelihood that your baby will develop torticollis. This is a condition characterised by stiffness in the neck, which in turn can increase the risk that flat head syndrome will develop.
Moreover, holding your baby in your arms rather than using a carrier increases cuddle time, an integral part of parent-child bonding. For further information, please read our blog post on top tips for bonding with your baby.
What Parents Should Know
Its important to follow safe sleeping advice, which specifies a baby should sleep on their back. Along with this, parents should interact with their baby as in the above illustrations and know:
even newborn babies can move their head to each side by following their parents eye contact or their voice and they should be encouraged to do so
from birth, babies need both tummy time and face time when they are awake and happy
babys head should be supported until they can hold it themselves.
The best way to encourage babies to be more active is to play with them, provide tummy time and engage face to face with eye contact, smiles and talking, from birth.
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Alternate Your Babys Head Position Each Time They Sleep
You should always follow the Red Nose Australia Safe Sleeping Guidelines and place baby on their back to sleep. But when you put them down take note of which way their head is turned and then next time turn it to face the opposite way. A young baby spends a lot of time asleep and, if they are always lying on the same spot, their head will not grow symmetrically and a flat spot will develop.
What Causes Infant Torticollis
Torticollis is fairly common in newborns. Boys and girls are equally likely to develop the head tilt. It can be present at birth or take up to 3 months to happen.
Doctors aren’t sure why some babies get torticollis and others don’t. It might happen if a fetus is cramped inside the uterus or in an unusual position . The use of forceps or vacuum devices to deliver a baby during childbirth also makes a baby more likely to develop it.
These things put pressure on a baby’s sternocleidomastoid muscle . This large, rope-like muscle runs on both sides of the neck from the back of the ears to the collarbone. Extra pressure on one side of the SCM can make it tighten, which makes it hard for a baby to turn his or her neck.
Some babies with torticollis also have developmental dysplasia of the hip, another condition caused by an unusual position in the womb or a tough childbirth.
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What Is Flat Head Syndrome
Flat head syndrome is when a babys head develops a flat spot as it grows. It can sometimes also create a bulge on the forehead and facial features can become asymmetrical .
You may not notice the flat spot when you look at your baby front on. The asymmetry may be more noticeable if you compare your babys left and right profiles. If there is lopsidedness it is most obvious when viewed from abovelooking down on the top of your babys head.
Is It Covered By Medical Insurance
Insurance companies do not have the best track record when it comes to positional plagiocephaly . This is because some insurance companies do not recognize it as a medical condition yet, and not much research has been done.
It is better to ask your insurance company about coverage beforehand. Your insurance company might only cover some of the costs, or none at all. If you find that your insurance will not cover the cost of the helmet, ask your Orthotist if paying in full, in advance, will result in a discount as opposed to making long term payments.
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Atobaby Flat Head Baby Pillow
AtoBaby makes a popular and highly rated flat head pillow. Were a bit cautious on this one as were not aware of any independent party certifying it is breathable and safe for babies. But we have listed it here as an option, as other parents have found the pillow to be effective.
AtoBaby is another very popular flat head baby pillow on Amazon. Its also made of top-grade slow rebound memory foam.
It doesnt come with a pillow cover, so to clean it you must throw the entire pillow into the wash. It washes well and doesnt take long to dry.
Its inexpensive and worth a try. But remember to think about the safety and breathability.
Key Points Every Parent Must Know To Prevent Flat Head Syndrome
Heres what you need to know to prevent flat head syndrome :
Since 1992, there has been an incredible 600% increase in the incidence of FHS or plagiocephaly.
This was due to the introduction of the back to sleep initiative worldwide to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome .
Thankfully it worked the incidence of SIDS dropped by a whopping 80%! The downside to the risk/benefit of the SIDS campaign has been a steady rise in FHS.
This is primarily due to placing a babys soft, malleable skull in the one position for long periods of time.
Think about this if you completely filled a balloon full of water and placed it on a hard surface, it would retain most of its shape. This is an example of a fully developed adult skull.
If you were to then take some of the water out, effectively softening it and repeat the process, the result would be vastly different. You would then have a flattening on the base of the balloon, and a bulging at the front. This is what happens in newborns at risk of developing FHS.
After reading this post, you will be able to:
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How To Help Babies Avoid Getting A Flat Head
Plagiocephaly, the clinical name for asymmetrical flat-headedness in babies, is relatively common but easily preventable. Parents just need to encourage their babies to defy gravity
All that physiotherapist Liz Williams wants is for baby pumpkins to be able to move their heads on their own. If that sounds odd, its because Mrs Williams likens young babies heads to pumpkins because thats how many new parents treat them as inanimate objects.
Following advice, many new parents position their resting baby with their head on one side and then on the other side – when in fact babies should be encouraged to move their pumpkins all on their own.
Mrs Williams recently completed her PhD research at the University of Melbourne, exploring how we can prevent what has become a common problem in many infants – flat headedness.
Her research investigates whether babies can and should move their heads by themselves, and if they did so, whether they could avoid plagiocephaly, the clinical name for asymmetrical flat-headedness.
The condition is caused by prolonged pressure on the babys growing skull, flattening the back of the head, and in severe cases, causing distorted facial features and a bulging forehead. It has been likened to a growing pumpkin on flat ground . Some babies need to wear a special head shape-correcting helmet in order to fix their growing skull.
The fact sheet provides practical advice to parents including:
Flat Head Syndrome And The Brain
Flat head syndrome wont affect your babys brain development, just the shape of their head.
A rare condition called torticollis can lead to flat spots. Torticollis causes tight neck muscles that cause the head to twist to one side. This can lead your baby to hold their head in the same position frequently.
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When Should We Use A Flat Head Helmet
Your babys brain grows the most during the first year of life. For the helmet to be effective, it should be used before the first year.
Ideally, the best time for use is between six to seven months, but this is dependent on your baby. Usually, the Helmet will only be worn until twelve months of age. Your Doctor will decide if it must be worn longer.
The following page is useful as it provides advice on performing an At Home Assessment.
Can A Babys Flat Head Be Prevented
Yes. A simple way to prevent your baby from getting a flat head is to change the position of the babys head each day.
Because babies like to have something interesting to look at, they tend to turn their head to look out into their room rather than toward the wall. This way they can see you as you come and go.
Heres how you can change the position of your babys head while still giving her the same view.
One day, place your baby with her head at the head of the crib.
The next day, place your baby with her head at the foot of the crib.
Each day, alternate your babys orientation in the crib.
Check to make sure that your baby is always looking out into the room.
You might also put a mobile on the side of the crib facing the room to encourage your baby to look that way.
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How Is Flat Head Syndrome Treated
Caregivers should always place babies on their back to sleep to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome , even with possibility of flat head syndrome. Avoiding swings, car seats, bouncy chairs, and other devices is safest for sleep and also helps to make sure that babies can move their head freely.
So what can parents do when flat head syndrome is due to a sleeping or lying position? Simple practices like changing a baby’s sleep position, holding your baby, and providing lots of “tummy time” can help it go away.Try these tips:
- Practice tummy time. Provide plenty of supervised time for your baby to lie on the stomach while awake during the day. Tummy time:
- helps normal shaping of the back the head
- encourages a baby’s learning and discovery of the world
- helps babies strengthen their neck muscles and learn to push up on their arms. This helps develop the muscles needed for crawling and sitting up.
Baby Head Shape Is Purely About Appearance
Nope. If it was purely about appearance, this child development nerd would find it far less fascinating.
A developing flat spot on a babies skull can be a red flag that the baby has tightness of the neck muscles or Torticollis.
It can be a warning sign that baby isn’t getting enough opportunities for movement .
Plagiocephaly is correlated with tongue ties and other Tethered Oral Tissues.
In some cases, head flattening is an early warning sign of developmental differences such as low muscle tone or visual problems.
Research also shows that head flattening is associated with long-term vision problems, jaw problems and ear infections.
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Flat Spots On Babies Heads Common Result Of Sleeping On Back Study Finds
Almost half of newborns develop flat spots on their head from sleeping on their backs, says a new Canadian study that urges doctors and nurses to inform parents early on about how to prevent misshaping from occurring.
Called positional plagiocephaly, the condition occurred in 46.6 per cent of 2-month-old babies involved in the study, published Monday in Pediatrics.
Previous studies in the U.S. and Europe estimated it affects anywhere from 3 to 61 per cent of babies but none had Canadian data, says lead author Aliyah Mawji of Calgarys Mount Royal University.
While its crucial that babies sleep on their backs to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, parents must be aware they need to take pressure off their newborns head during waking hours, she added.
Ideally, we want to prevent this, said Mawji. Once plagiocephaly develops and its caught at two months, by the time an infant is referred to a special clinic it might be four, five, six months before they are seen.
Its significant because the earlier the intervention, the easier it is to change the head shape.
Flat spots are easily corrected when babies skulls are still soft and developing, but if treatment is left too late, head shape and facial features can be permanently altered, she said.
Carly Titus noticed a flat spot on the right side of her new daughters head and asked her doctor about it at the babys two-month checkup.
How to avoid flat spots