The best treatment of a flattened head is to prevent it from happening. The earlier you notice head shape irregularities – flat spots or asymmetries – the easier it is to treat them through simple positioning, activities and neck stretches or mobilizations if required.
Simple changes in baby’s routine that encourage the baby to be more active can avoid the secondary complications of decreased early movement and reduce the incidence of head flattening.
Although it is difficult to prevent all the incidences of flat head, but there are a few preventive measures to reduce your baby’s risk.
Adjusting your baby’s position during sleep helps prevent flat head as putting your baby to sleep in the same position day after day, puts consistent pressure on the same parts of the skull. Try putting your baby in different positions alternating between side lying on either side and lying on their back. Sleeping on tummy is not recommended for babies
Flat head is more likely for babies who spend more time on their back. Adequate tummy time while your baby is awake and alert can help reduce their risk of getting a flat head
Reduce time spent in baby gear
Overuse of baby gear such as car sear carriers, baby swings, rockers etc., significantly contributes to positional flat head. Avoid letting your baby sleep in swings, bouncy seats etc. Instead you could try baby wearing in different positions
Switch things up
Most parents form habitual ways of doing things with their baby – like carrying baby on one side only, putting them to sleep on a specific side. Bringing variety to a schedule can help your little one change their head position throughout the day. Switch the direction your baby lays in their crib, alternate arms when holding your baby or feeding your baby, change the position of lights, toys etc. These practices encourage your baby to move their head more often and relieve extra pressure that may be put on one side
Play with purpose
Use toys and play techniques that encourage your baby to look in all directions when in various positions. Notice your baby’s preferred head position when your baby lies on their back, on their belly and when semi reclined in baby holding equipment. This would help in detecting any patterns adopted by your baby and thereby enables you to understand which side you need to provide stimulation from. Putting toys, mirrors, books etc. opposite to the preferred side can encourage your baby to stretch and strengthen their muscles as they would have to pivot and stretch.
If you notice head flattening in your baby – don’t panic, their head might appear flat, pointy or misshapen, but a lopsided head doesn’t mean your baby is in pain or will necessarily have any development delays.
Reach out to your paediatrician to get to the root of why your baby’s head is flattening, make some changes in your baby’s daily routines, positions and play activities.
Play with Purpose !!