Babies are born with a very soft and malleable skull to help the brain grow rapidly during the first few months of life. It’s a marvel of nature that a baby’s head is able to change its shape while passing through the birth canal, but it also puts infants at the risk of developing Flat Head Syndrome.
Flat Head Syndrome, also known as Positional Plagiocephaly, is a condition where either one side or the back of baby’s head develops a lasting flat spot. The syndrome usually happens when a newborn lies down in the supine position most of the time. As a result, the continuous pressure applied on the same spot causes the head to look asymmetrical.
This condition, which may seem quite alarming, isn’t a major cause for concern as it neither affects the development of child’s brain nor requires any kind of surgery. However, if you don’t treat it in time, it could cause your baby to have a permanently malformed skull. Luckily, flattening or distortion of the head can be easily prevented with a few simple practices, like repositioning the infant’s head at certain intervals.
As your little one spends most of his time sleeping, make sure to reposition his head from the left-to-right and vice-versa after a certain period of time. In other words, avoid letting your baby stay in the same position for too long while he is sleeping. That way, a constant pressure will not be applied on the same spot, which is very crucial to avoid the development of a flattened head.
Let your baby have enough supervised tummy time every day. When your child is awake, spread out the play mat and encourage him to lie on his belly. This way, your little one could spend most of his awakening time in the prone position. Keep in mind, providing infants plenty of tummy time not only promotes a normal head shape but also contributes vitally to their overall physical development.
Avoid placing extra padding – like wedges, cushions, and towels – behind your newborn’s head. All these cushioning items prevent infants from turning their heads in different directions and thus maximize the chances of developing a flat spot. A better option is to use a doughnut-shaped baby flat head pillow that evenly distributes the pressure around the back side of an infant’s head and prevents deformation of the skull.
Try to reduce the amount of time your baby spends in carriers like swings, buggies, strollers, car seats and bouncy seats, or any other place where his head is likely to rest against a firm flat surface. Keeping your little one in the supine position, these carriers put him at the higher risk of developing an asymmetric head shape. So use carriers as less as possible and hold your baby more often.
Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, make sure to feed your baby from both sides turn-by-turn. This is vital because switching arms relieves the pressure that is applied on one spot of the baby’s head during feeding. Furthermore, use a nursing pillow to hold your little one in the right feeding position as well as to save your back and arms from pain during long feeding sessions.