Tips on reducing the risk of flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly)

Some babies can be born with a flatness or asymmetry to their head shape, but most often it is something that gradually develops over the first couple of months after birth.  It seems to be more common these days since the very successful ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign that recommends all babies sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS, so what can you do to help reduce the pressure on a newborn’s soft skull?

When a baby’s head is flat off to one side, it is common to find that they also prefer to turn their head to just that one side.  Sometimes, this sort of neck restriction might show itself as  difficulty in breast feeding from one breast.  At home, it’s important to make everything plagiocephalyinteresting be on their least favourite side, so that they are actively encouraged to look that way.  So, this could mean:

  • Turning their Moses basket around in the bedroom, positioning them with lights or a window to attract them and talking to them from their non-favoured side.
  • When the baby is solidly asleep you could try and gently turn their head to rest on the other side.
  • If you’re bottle feeding, vary the position that you feed your baby in, like you would with breastfeeding.
  • Encourage tummy time, numerous brief spells each day, from birth.  This can be lying on your chest, tummy or lap if they really don’t get on well with it on a firm, flat surface.
  • Carrying in an ergonomic (wide-based) sling or carrier is also a great way to help little ones spend less time with weight on the back of their head.
  • There are numerous pillows on the market that are considered safe for reducing the pressure on the skull too.

If your baby seems to be in discomfort or really can’t turn their head to the other side, then it would be worth considering an osteopathic assessment as their range of movement is often quickly restored with gentle treatment to help lengthen out their neck and upper back.

Juliet Hartis – Osteopath    |    07710 995 507    |

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