I’m just going to say it…sometimes babies are born with some funky noggins. Whether it’s because of their positioning in the womb or the way they were birthed, sometimes a baby’s head comes out more alien-like than you would expect. The good news is it’s totally normal and should correct itself over time.
However, there’s always a concern for something a bit more serious, called positional plagiocephaly, to occur in some babies. This term refers to the flat spots that develop on the heads of some babies due to inactivity. This inactivity could be from the baby not being active enough or that the baby may be restricted in it’s movements more than is recommended.
One reason a baby may not be as active as it should could be due to a lack of muscle development in the womb. This is very common for multiples or those babies who felt a bit squished in a smaller womb. Another reason a flat spot may develop is the child’s preference to prefer a certain head direction, called infant Torticollis. You may notice signs of Torticollis if your child tips their head in one direction, prefers to look at you over the same shoulder instead of turning their head to follow you, prefers one breast over the other, or gets frustrated when unable to turn their head completely.
Another typical reason for flat spots to develop is the overuse of baby holding devices. It’s so easy to fall in to a routine as parents, ESPECIALLY if you find something that your child actually likes sitting/sleeping/existing in for more than five minutes. I mean, moms need a hot shower every now and then. BUT, sometimes we end up relying on these devices more than is recommended which can lead to those flat spots to develop.
For example, car seats should really just be used in the car. I mean, a quick Target run is one thing, but if you know you will be strolling outside at the park or an event, consider baby wearing to take the pressure off of the back of their head and allow that skull to shape properly.
Here are some more tips to help avoid flat spots:
- Tummy time-You’ve probably heard of this one, as well as the general disdain most babies have for it. But allowing a few minutes of unrestricted movements on their tummy will do wonders to strengthen muscles and counter-act flat spots. A good recommendation I came across is to try and do just a couple of minutes of tummy time after each diaper change. That way you are getting enough time in without the tears and frustrations that longer sessions will have.
- Change up the direction you have baby on the changing table. Those habits are hard to break, especially if you get in to a diaper changing groove, but babies love to look at mom and dad when getting their diaper changed. So adjusting their positioning will force babies to turn that head in both directions on a regular basis.
- Speaking of habits, try to change of the positioning of how you are holding baby. If you find yourself favoring one cradle arm over the other, try changing it up.
- Change up the direction you lay your child in when they nap or sleep in their crib. Again, they will likely affix to something interesting on the wall or ceiling and simply changing their sleep direction will encourage head movements.
Are you wondering if your child might have a flat spot? Here’s a great post that goes over a really simple way to measure flat spots at home. But if you are still unsure, check with your doctor. And the sooner the better because treatment can be as easy as adjusting some lifestyle changes like those tips mentioned above. But if you wait too long, you may end up having to be fitted for a helmet that helps reshape baby’s head. So if you feel something is off, ask your doctor. And be your child’s advocate if your doctor takes the let’s wait and see approach. Keep close watch and if you feel things are not improving even after you’ve made changes at home, ask your doctor again to take another look.
One thing to remember, DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP over this. Flat spots can develop without you noticing because it’s not like you are in the habit of studying your child’s dome from all angles every day. You are doing great mama!
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