Marie, my doctor just told me my 2-month-old baby has torticollis. I don’t know why my baby has this problem, and I was wondering what I can do while waiting to see the osteopath the doctor referred me to. Thanks, Agathe
Excellent question! Like you, many parents worry when their baby is diagnosed with torticollis. Torticollis can occur during childbirth associated with in utero pressure, poor positioning, a baby that engaged in the pelvis very early during pregnancy, etc. But it can only be identified 3 weeks after childbirth, given that the tension will amplify and become more evident.
The presence of torticollis is the leading cause of plagiocephaly (flat head) because the baby will always turn their head to the less painful side. As such, it will create higher pressure on one side of their head, which will flatten it.
The baby’s head can be bent to one side or rotated due to tension in the sternum and jaw muscles, which leads to facial asymmetry. This can be noted if the eyes are not aligned, one cheek is bigger than the other, or when their mouth is crooked when yawning or smiling.
You can also note small nodules in their muscles, hard bumps at the base of the skull behind their head. In reality, this is caused by tension in the fibrous tissues that can dissipate in one location and reappear in another, depending on the pressure. This is not serious, even if these nodules are called pseudotumors.
You might suspect torticollis when your baby refuses to breastfeed, has weaker suction, difficulty opening their mouth or are unable to position themselves. And of course, if their head is often turned to the same side.
The best solution is to act rapidly. The results are quick and effective before 3-4 months. After 4 months, the treatments will take longer to be successful, since the skull bones are more fused together, and there is less mobility during the procedure. Osteopathy, physiotherapy and chiropractic services are the best options for this kind of problem. But of course, the caregiver needs to specialise in babies or pediatrics.
In the meantime, change your baby’s position frequently, place him on his stomach several times a day, even if for short periods. When they sleep, try to change the side of their head they sleep on. You can also watch my video I filmed with Marie Panier called Osteopathy and Babies.
I hope this answer helps you better understand your situation.
The Baby Expert
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