As a parent, you want to make sure that you’re doing everything in your power to help your newborn baby develop in a healthy and happy way. But you’ve figured out by now that things don’t always go as smooth as we’d hoped.
When your pediatrician tells you that your baby appears to be developing a flat head, you get an awful feeding of disappointment rush over you. It’s ok to feel this way, but the most important thing is to know that you’re baby will be OK and that there are quite a few things you can do to take control.
Will My Baby Need A Helmet?
If your baby’s head doesn’t appear to look better by month four, there’s a good chance he’ll have to wear a helmet going forward. This is because their head is still growing fast between months four and seven and the helmet can help to reverse the flat head syndrome.
So how do the helmets work? They have a small gap in the back where the flat spot is and offer opportunity for the head to grow and fill in the gap while making sure that your baby’s not sleeping on his flat spot. Of course we want to avoid the helmet if possible for the baby’s sake because it’s such a hassle and can get quite expensive – upwards of $1,000 – $2,000.
The amount of improvement you can make with the techniques we’ll go over below will depend on how soon you use them as well as how old your baby is.
How To Know If Your Baby Has Flat Head Baby Syndrome
Otherwise known as plagiocephaly, flat head syndrome is when your baby’s head develops a flat spot on the back of the head as he grows. When this happens, other symptoms will be noticed along with it such as an enlarged forehead and features of the face can become asymmetrical.
You won’t be able to detect this problem while looking at your baby’s face from the front. You must look from the side or top and you’ll see an irregularity in the overall shape of your baby’s head.
What Causes Flat Head Baby Syndrome?
A newborn baby’s head is soft and easily shapes to the surface that it lies on for a extended periods of time. If a baby’s head isn’t placed in various positions while sleeping, the prolonged pressure will begin to flatten out their head.
Today 1 in 10 babies will have flat head syndrome, which is significantly higher than what it used to be back in the 1970’s which was approximately 1 in 300. This has to do with the fact that parents began placing their babies to sleep in their back to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), which has decreased by 80% as of 2010.
So what are some ways we can help our baby prevent flat head syndrome or help reverse some of the flatness that has already occurred.
How To Stop Flat Head Baby Syndrome
1. Tummy Time, All The Time!
If you’re baby’s head is flat, it’s even more of a reason to keep him off of his back when he’s awake. If you find yourself getting tired of holding your baby and opt for the swing or rocker, instead try reaching for a carrier or sling that can help keep them in an upright position. But remember, nothing beats supervised tummy time! It will help not only with his flat head syndrome, but some of the benefits include developing your baby’s shoulder and neck muscles as well as his arms and back.
It will seem tough at first because your newborn may not like doing tummy time as much. If this is so, then try to do 2 – 4 minutes at a time and slowly increase the amount of time they spend on their tummy. With practice and time, they will learn to like it and can even go as long as 20 minutes at a time.
2. Change Your Baby’s Head Position Frequently!
Remember that you should always put your baby to sleep on their back. Your newborn baby sleeps a lot throughout the day and night, so it’s important to recognize what side your baby prefers to sleep on one. Their preference may be due to sleeping on that side for a long time and now they’re used to it. The down side is that that side of their head will begin to flatten. Remember the position he sleeps on and make sure to shift his head to the other side the next sleep cycle.
If your baby is always looking in one direction, you can consider seeing your pediatrician to see if they can recommend a physiotherapist to help your figure out what could be causing it. They can help resolve weak muscular tissue issues and give you ideas for exercises to help increase your baby’s range of motion.
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3. Use A Baby Carrier For Daytime And Naps
Whether you’re doing chores around the house, reading or studying for your MBA, you’ll have no choice but to figure out a way to get your work done while caring for your baby. And now more than ever, flat head syndrome still needs to be dealt with proactively. A carrier is a great way to keep your baby upright while you sway and carry on with your activities.
If you’re reading, you can create a little standing work station and just sway back and forth. Sometimes you’ll notice that you’re baby’s actually passed out in the carrier and you can just let him take a nap for a while. This is also another great way to closely bond body to body with your baby.
It may seem a little tedious at first putting the harness on, but after a few times, you’ll get quite good at it and actually look forward to it while getting a lot of work done.
4. Adjust Your Nursery Layout
If your baby sleeps in a dark room, chances are that they’re head will be facing the direction of the nightlight or the doorway where light might be peeking through.
Their constant attention to that light make keep their head in that position for a long time leading to flat head syndrome. You can change the way his crib faces the door or alternate the direction that your baby is sleeping from head to feet each sleep cycle.
5. Do Everything On Their Non-Preferred Side
As we stated earlier, you must make it a point to give your baby the most tummy time possible. This even goes for bath time. Use your hands and arms as much as possible to keep them secure on their side. You can even hold them on their tummy whole bathing their arms, legs, and back. Place their toys mobile on their non-preferred side to keep their neck active and strong.
You should be talking a whole lot with your baby from the non-preferred side as well. Encourage friends and family to do the same. Developing these types of habits can go a long way to helping your baby. If you don’t know what to say or get stuck, try describing the activity your doing in your normal regular voice to help prime their brains for language development and keep the conversation flowing all the time.
6. Adjust Your Holding And Nursing Positions
You’re probably used to holding your baby in a certain way, even while you’re feeding your baby from both sides. You may want to start to incorporate different hold positions while breastfeeding your baby.
Think about how your carry around your baby on your arms when you’re moving from room to room. You may find that you have a preferred way you’re always holding your baby. Remember to keep changing positions.
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7. Mix Up Where And What Your Baby Sleeps On
If your baby is only sleeping in his crib or bassinet, try switching up nap time in a bouncy seat or even on your chest or shoulder. This will help to encourage keeping your baby’s head at different angles and pressure points. Allowing your baby to sleep in the same place over and over will continue to do the opposite of what we want achieve here. You can even purchase pillows with a cut out that can help with preventing a flat head while they just lay there supervised.
You must make sure you’re not using it in the crib for long periods of sleep due to SIDS and not really knowing the causes yet for it.
You’re all set. This are the top things you should be doing to get your baby well on his way to reversing flat head baby syndrome. Of course, you should always consult with your pediatrician all the activities that are right for your baby based on his individual case.
If you enjoyed this article, check out these below to help you find your perfect bib or unique product that’s a must have for any new parent:
Check out how you can breastfeed without ever having to change your clothes.
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Here are some other articles you may find interesting on your breastfeeding journey 🙂
– 5 Best Baby Bibs That Solve Your Drool And Spit-Up Problems is an easy guide to help you find solutions to your baby’s drooling and spit-ups troubles.
– 5 Surprising Things New Moms Need For Their Baby will increase your confidence as parents by helping you discover unique products for your newborn baby.
As always, we’re here to help you relax and enjoy spending time with your baby instead of stressing out!