Posted in Plagiocephaly
Counter-positioning: Placing your baby on the part of the head that is not flat is the first line of defence to help re-shape the head. If started early enough, the mild flat spot may correct itself since the head is growing. The best time to start counter-positioning is before 5 months of age since the baby hasn't developed the muscle strength to over-ride pads/towels etc.
It is very important to use counter-positioning techniques when the baby is sleeping or lying down on the back. Always avoid the baby sleeping on the stomach. Some will use a rolled-up towel to tilt the baby at a 45-degree angle to avoid contact on the flat spot. Placing toys on the opposite side of the crib to encourage turning away from the flat spot is also effective when the baby is awake. Speak to your pediatrician about these counter-positioning techniques.
Try also to make sure that your baby does not spend too much time in a baby car seat. In this situation, your baby may still favour lying on the flat spot for long periods of time.
Supervised tummy time a few times a day is another way of keeping your baby off the flat spot. It is also very important in helping the baby interact and gain neck and shoulder muscle strength. It will not be their favorite position at first but with time they will like it.
Check with your physician/pediatrician to see if torticollis is also present. This could contribute to the plagiocephaly and should be addressed right away. Torticollis will be addressed in a future blog.
Counter-positioning can be a very useful technique to re-shape the head of a baby with mild plagiocephaly. Results can be seen within a month or so if the techniques are achieved. If counter-positioning is not effective, helmeting would be another option.
It is very important to keep in mind that plagiocephaly rarely affects normal brain development; it is mostly a cosmetic concern. At the same time cosmetics is important in this day and age. Many parents tend to feel guilty if they do not try and correct the flat spot "I don't want my child to say that we didn't do anything for the flat spot when they are 18 years old".
It is very important to discuss the different options. Getting information about counter-positioning and helmet therapy is the first step for parents to help them decide what options are available for their child with plagiocepaly.
Next time, we will discuss counter-positioning and helmet therapy.
Please contact us for more information on plagiocephaly and infant hemets
Baby flat head, better known as plagiocephaly, is characterized by a flattened area of the head in an infant.
In 1992, the American Academy of Pediatrics began the 'Back to Sleep Campaign' to help reduce Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Since the inception of the program there has been a reduction in SIDS by approximately 40%.
Because infants have been encouraged to sleep on their back, there has been a significant increase in babies with flat spots.
Counter-positioning and helmeting are two avenues used to help re-shape the flattened area.
Some of the common causes of baby flat head include:
- Sleeping in one position from birth through the first few months can change the head shape.
- Torticollis can be defined as the bending of the neck to one side and rotation in the opposite direction. This results in the infant sleeping constantly in one position thus possibly resulting in a flat spot. Therapy, which includes stretching the sternocleidomastoid muscle, will help restore proper neck movements.
- Limited space in the womb may result in a flat spot before birth. Torticollis can also occur in the womb due to positioning. Baby flat head and torticollis can also occur during the birthing process. In this case there may be trauma as the baby moves through the birthing canal.