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Flat Head Syndrome is a condition that affects many babies. A baby's head can develop a flat spot due to constant pressure on a specific area. Babies are vulnerable because their skull is soft and pliable during the first 6 months of age.
Babies spend a lot of time lying on their backs, and may develop a flat spot where their head presses against a mattress, bouncer, stroller, swing or car seat. Though less common, babies can be born with flat spots from being restricted in utero or from the birthing process. A baby's skull becomes less soft and pliable as they grow. The younger the baby is, the easier it will be to prevent Flat Head Syndrome.
Flat Head Syndrome frequently involves 2 problems; plagiocephaly/brachycephaly and in a large number of children the associated problem referred to a torticollis.
Positional plagiocephaly: This is the most common form and It occurs when a baby's head develops a flat spot due to pressure on that area.
Craniosynostosis: A birth defect in which the joints between the bones of the skull close early. Babies born with craniosynostosis need surgery to allow their brain to grow properly.
Everyone's head is asymmetrical and will usually round out at about 6 months of age when baby starts crawling and sitting up. However, you should always talk to your doctor about flat spots on baby's head.
If your doctor determines that your baby is still young enough and the condition is mild, he'll most likely recommend repositional therapy. If he determines that the condition is severe, he may recommend cranial orthotic therapy (using a helmet to change the shape of the head).
Repositional therapy methods are methods you can use at home to help cure mild cases of plagiocephtaly, or to prevent it. It is great to be informed in these techniques because you can easily apply them to your baby's routines.
Bedtime & naps: Alternate baby's head position during bedtime and naps. You can also use a head positioning beanie to guide your baby to sleep on the desired side. Caution: Do not use any towels or sleep positioners to guide baby's head for risk of SIDS.
Feeding time: Alternate sides when feeding (occurs naturally while breastfeeding).
Sitting time: Avoid leaving your baby for extended periods of time in car seats, swings or bouncers where their head is likely to rest on the same spot for a long time.
Tummy time: During waking hours, give your baby some tummy time (needed for the development of motor skills). If your baby isn't used to tummy time, start with only a few minutes at a time and gradually give him/her more. Tummy time also helps prevent plagiocephaly by strengthening babies' neck muscles.