Plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) is simply a condition that causes a baby’s head to have a flat spot or shape.
Due to the pressure of pushing the head through the birth canal, many vaginally delivered babies are born with an oddly shaped head. This usually should correct itself within about six weeks. But if your baby’s head hasn’t rounded out by age 6 weeks, then it may be the positional flat-head syndrome.
There are different causes of flat-head syndrome but in this article we will focus on the most common form which is positional plagiocephaly. This happens when a baby’s head develops a flat spot as a result of constant pressure on that side of the head. Babies have soft skull so if a baby continues to lay of the same side of the head on the mattress, flat head can occur.
What to do if your baby has a flat-head
1. Reposition Therapy During Nap Time
This involves the regular switching of your baby’s position to avoid pressure on the already flattened area of the head.
2. Repositional Therapy During Feeding
Alternate sides when feeding your baby, either breastfeeding or bottle feeding. This will help reduce the pressure on one side of the head.
3. Sitting time
Don’t leave your baby in a car seat, infant seat, baby swing, baby carrier, or other place where her head is likely to rest on the same spot for a long time.
4. Tummy time
Tummy time not only helps prevent plagiocephaly by strengthening babies’ neck muscles, it is essential for the development of motor skills. Stronger neck muscles enable babies to move their head around while sleeping so it doesn’t always rest in the same position. Observe tummy time by putting your baby on her tummy when she’s not asleep starting in the first few days of life. Babies who aren’t used to being on their tummy from day one may never enjoy it when they are older. Starting with a minute or two at a time and gradually increase the time spent on the belly daily.
5. Physical therapy
The doctor may also recommend daily physical therapy exercises to help increase the range of motion in your baby’s neck. These must be done gently but consistently.
6. Carnial Orthotic therapy
If the previously stated measures aren’t successful, the next step is to consider (MUST BE RECOMMENDED BY A DOCTOR) is cranial orthotic therapy- which is simply the use of a custom-fitted helmet or a headband (called a cranial orthotic) for about 23 hours a day to correct the shape of a baby’s head. This treatment generally lasts two to six months, depending on how early you start and how severe the problem is.
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