Flat head syndrome is very common in babies today, estimated to affect anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of all babies who sleep on their backs. In many cases, it can be prevented if you have the right information. If your baby’s head is already beginning to flatten, it is so important that you take action while your baby is still very young. The earlier you can begin treatment, the better.
What is Baby Flat Head Syndrome?
Flat head syndrome is a term used for a number of different conditions affecting the shape of the head. The most common types by far are deformational plagiocephaly or positional plagiocephaly (often accompanied by torticollis or ‘wry neck’) and brachycephaly. Flat spots can also be a sign of a more serious condition such as craniosynostosis. Getting an accurate diagnosis as early as possible is the first step, because there can be many different causes and different courses of treatment depending on the condition. Discuss your concerns with your pediatrician, and be sure to get a second opinion if you are still concerned about your baby’s appearance. The best time to have your baby evaluated by a specialist is by the time they are four to six months old. A specialist can take detailed measurements and help you determine how serious the condition is and the best course of treatment.
Treatment for flat head syndrome will vary depending on the exact condition causing the flat area and the age of the baby. For positional plagiocephaly and brachycephaly, the first course of action is normally aggressive repositioning and lots of tummy time. Repositioning is most effective when started as early as possible, and works best when the baby is under four months old, although some parents have experienced improvement after this age. Make sure that you are varying your baby’s position so there is never consistent pressure on the same area of the head. Tummy time is so important for all babies, but it is critical to do it consistently and often if your baby is developing a flat head. If these options do not resolve the issue, a baby helmet is usually recommended.
For a brief overview of infant sleep safety, please see Safe Sleep for Your New Baby, now available on Amazon. For a comprehensive guide to all the conditions that make up flat head syndrome, as well as the prevention and treatment of each of these conditions, please see our ebook, The Complete Guide to Flat Head Syndrome in Infants.
There are a number of products on the market that are designed to help prevent and treat flat head syndrome, and promote healthy infant development. For a guide to the these products and to help you understand what you really need, please see our article, “What products do you really need to keep your baby’s head from flattening”. We also have other more in depth reviews in our Product Reviews section.
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