My baby has a flat head. What should I do?
Marie, I was wondering what to do for my two-month-old baby whose head is flatter on one side. I try to take precautions to improve the situation. I am so scared he will remain like that! Can you help?
Dear Chantal, it’s a good idea to try to do things to solve this problem, but you should also know that the situation may continue despite your actions. The term plagio is Greek, and means “oblique.” This occurs more frequently since 1999 when Health Canada issued recommendations that babies sleep on their back to prevent cradle death. The cranial bones and soft head tissues can mould easily starting in the uterus and after childbirth, and flatten quickly due to an external pressure placed on their skull. This is what we call plagiocephaly. It won’t affect the brain’s development, but it can become permanent if nothing is done at a young age before the skull sutures close.
dorment sur le dos en prévention à la mort du berceau avec les recommandations émises par Santé Canada en 1999.
Plagiocephaly can occur in babies because their neck muscles are weaker. That is why the problem is more noted in babies with less muscle tone, not placed on their stomach enough (at least 3 times a day when tiny), who have torticollis at birth or have a family history.
The leading causes of plagiocephaly are:
- Sleeping on the back;
- Harder mattress than before;
- Trauma at birth (forceps, vacuum assistance, long delivery);
- Premature baby;
- Intrauterine constraint (very tight in the pelvis);
- Multiple births;
- Breech position.
The peak occurs around 4 months. The ideal option is to act preventatively like you did when you start seeing symptoms (flattened head, asymmetric face, unaligned eyes or ears). I know you are being very proactive and want to follow recommendations in place. So I think physiotherapy and osteopathy would be a good therapy choice for your baby. Learning about exercises you can do, how to position your baby better will significantly help the situation. A bath with your baby is a very soft approach, so you won’t need to worry, and you will see that the results will be astonishing. I strongly encourage you to read my article Osteopathy: Mother and Baby, to learn more about this approach from an expert.
à lire mon billet Ostéopathie : mère et bébé afin d’en apprendre davantage sur cette pratique avec une pro en la matière.
The right treatment for plagiocephaly is early detection, treatment of torticollis or muscular-skeletal tensions, repositioning, placing baby on its stomach, revising sleep positions, or physiotherapy or osteopathy treatments. If the problem persists, wearing a helmet (brace) will be suggested after 6 or 7 months. The helmet is made out of plastic with a rubber cushioning inside which places light pressure on the child’s skull to correct bone alignment. The baby must wear the helmet 22 hours per day, but the results will be very positive. They will have to wear the helmet for about 2 months.
The Baby Expert