Do you notice that your baby’s head seems wide, that an asymmetry at the right or left side of your baby? If so your baby might probably have what is called ‘Plagiocephaly’, also known as “flat head syndrome”. No worries though. It is a treatable deformation, which does not affect the development of a baby's brain.
What is plagiocephaly?
Plagiocephaly is a deformation touching the back or the side of a baby’s head. It is characterized by the flattened appearance in one area. That’s due to the pressure on one side of the head, by sleeping regularly in one position. It is the most common problem today among babies in their first week of life.
What causes plagiocephaly?
Plagiocephaly can result from several factors:
Problems in uterus
As we know, the malleable character of the skull has a lot of advantages. In one hand, it helps the baby get out of the womb easily. On the other hand, it allows to the brain of the baby to develop rapidly. This can expose the baby’s head to deformations.
The lack of anti-inflammatory fluid, the multiple pregnancies, as well as the overweight of the baby are factors that lead to a bad position of the baby in the uterus, constantly leaning on a part of the skull.
In some cases, childbirths can be associated with difficulties and complexity. This situation may require an extraction, the quickly as possible to save the life of the baby and this may be the origin of a torticollis after birth.
Frequent Back sleeping
Letting baby sleeping on his or her back without alternating the positions for long periods increases the risk for deformational plagiocephaly.
In fact, according to experts, sleeping on the back remains the best way to prevent the baby from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
However, Plagiocephaly associated with sleeping on the back is in decline lately thanks to the sensitization and advice given to the new mothers.
Premature babies are susceptible to having a flattened head. Since the baby’s skull is very soft and sensitive to remodeling.
The medical needs and extreme fragility after birth requires being in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) spending long periods of time on their backs maintained in a fixed position.
Torticollis is caused by shortening of the muscle on one side of the neck resulting from the remaining of the neck in a twisted position. And as mentioned above, It can be caused by the lack of the amniotic fluid, a complex and multiple births or lack of space in the uterus.
Most parents don't realize that their baby has a problem, especially when having the first baby as it becomes apparent when the child gets older .
Vary the direction of your baby's head
Specialists recommend parents to motivate the baby to move his head towards different directions and this through some tricks that incite him and awakens his curiosity.
Whenever you breastfeed your baby, make sure to change sides sometimes to the left and sometimes to the right and do not put pressure on the flat part of his skull.
Stimulate your baby better and avoid keeping them for long periods in the same position. For this reason, you must take into account whether you use the car seat, baby carrier or others.
It is recommended that your baby should be motivated to move his parts and especially his neck.
Tummy time is essential for a baby’s development. It prevents your baby from developing plagiocephaly.
Try to minimize the time spent by your baby resting on his back. When he is awake, put him on his tummy, he will naturally try to lift his head to discover what is going on around him and this will help him developing the motor abilities and to strengthen his muscles, especially those of the neck.
Choose the time when your baby is ready to play normally after a diaper change or nap and make sure to put your baby in a low and hard surface, such as the floor.
But be careful it does not have to be long, keeping the baby in his tummy three to five minutes is sufficient, three times a day but always under your watchful eye. If feeling uncomfortable with this position, do it only for one minute and increase progressively. This time as he gets stronger.
To get your baby familiarised with this position, you can put him on your chest while you lie on your back or use some inclined surfaces such as the c-shape pillow.
If you notice that these measures aren't successful, and your baby is developing plagiocephaly, seek advice from your child’s pediatrician and if necessary a treatment will be started.
In the case of severe plagiocephaly, the doctor can recommend suitable helmets for babies to correct the shape of their skulls. This therapy achieve the best results if it starts earlier around 6 months of age because the skull is still malleable and tolerate reshaping.
By following the recommendations above, there’s no need to worry about Plagiocephaly, since it ‘s a physical condition, not a mental one. But.if you notice the development of plagiocephaly, it's highly recommended to consult immediately the child’s pediatrician or health care provider for advice , because the earlier you act the better results you get.