What products do you really need to keep your baby’s head from flattening?
If you’ve been looking for ways to prevent flattening of your baby’s head, or help reverse flat spots that are already visible, you have probably come across many baby pillows and other products that can be used to assist you. It can be confusing to understand what products you really need and select the best ones for your baby.
In this article, we’ll talk about what types of products are most useful for preventing and treating this condition.
Products for night time sleeping
Your baby will spend a lot of time sleeping on his or her back while sleeping at night, and it is also a time where the baby is subject to the risk of SIDS, so this is probably the most important time to worry about. Most baby pillows are not recommended to be used when your baby is unsupervised because of the risk of SIDS, so your options are limited.
If your baby sleeps in a crib, one of the best products I’ve seen (as well as used myself, although I didn’t get it until my baby was older) is the Lifenest Sleep System by Ubimed. The Lifenest fits securely on top of your crib mattress and has a mesh insert where the baby rests which has some give to it, and therefore does not put any pressure on a single spot of the baby’s head, but actually cradles it. Unfortunately the manufacturer has now discontinued this item but you may be able to find a used one on Amazon or Ebay.
Another option for night time (particularly good if you co-sleep with your baby), is the Shapeguard wearable blanket (see full review here). This is a blanket with a built in pillow in the back, so you don’t have to worry about your baby turning over during the night, because it stays with them.
Products for naps and playtime
If you are able to supervise your baby during naps, you have a lot more options of products to use that are safe. The Clevamama Clevafoam baby pillow (full review here) is a great one, and I used to use this all the time when my son was on his play mat. It dissipates the pressure from a hard surface because it is made up of memory foam. It has a washable cover which is nice.
Another product that I had and loved was the Babymoon pillow (read full review here), which can take the pressure off a flat spot (the “no pressure” method of repositioning) because of its ring shaped design. It can also be used as a neck support in the carseat or stroller for your older baby or toddler. The Boppy Noggin Nest can also be used for supervised naps.
Products for use in the carseat, bouncy seat, stroller, or swing
If you spend much time with your baby in the car, it is important to make sure that the carseat is not putting pressure on the back of your baby’s head. If your baby’s head is already showing signs of flattening, it is important to limit your use of bouncy seats and swings, but there are certainly times when you need to put your baby somewhere safe so you can do other things (like shower and prepare dinner!). Therefore, it’s important to find a way to make sure the flattening is not made worse if your baby is in them.
The Babymoon pillow can also be used in a swing or bouncer, but I found it is a little too large to use in a carseat, since it will push your baby’s head too far forward. The Clevamama pillow can also be used if your baby is in a more reclined position, but it won’t work in a more upright position like the carseat.
In the car, I used the Summer Infant Snuzzler (a photo is on the left – it’s just like the Kiddopotamus Head and Body Support), and really found it did a great job to keep my baby’s head safely supported. He was small when he was born and really needed extra support in the carseat, which I also used in my Bob stroller so he was in the carseat quite a bit. I just kept my Summer Snuzzler in the carseat all the time, and used other products at home.
The Boppy Infant and Toddler Head Support is very similar but has more neck support with these little wings that go on each side of the neck. You would only need one or the other. These products do not affect the safety of the car seat in any way.
The Boppy Noggin Nest (full review here) is another really popular product and works really well in bouncy seats and swings. It has a cut out hole and keeps pressure from being put on the back of the head from hard surfaces.
The new Tortle cap can be used while the baby is in the stroller or bouncer, and this new product looks really promising. It has a roll that keeps the baby’s head slightly turned, and you can alternate sides so the pressure on one part of the baby’s head is not consistent. Although this product was not available when my son was being treated for flat head syndrome, I have a couple of friends who were able to review the product for me and report back. See the full Tortle review here. One thing to note with this product is that it’s important to get the fit and size right, and the manufacturer recommends buying multiple sizes to accommodate your baby’s head as it grows (it’s very reasonably priced though).
You will likely only need one or two of these types of products for use in the carseat , stroller, and in seats and swings at home. Most of them are inexpensive and you may find for convenience and also to vary the pressure on the head, it’s better to have two or three different products.
As your baby gets a little older, you will definitely want to use an infant seat as much as possible, as this keeps the pressure completely off the baby’s head. It also helps the baby gain trunk strength, and they just love being able to sit up and see the world in a new position. Infant seats are also great for feeding before your baby is really ready for a high chair.
There are two really good options for infant seats. The Bumbo Seat is a classic and a popular choice. It’s a nice single molded design that’s easy to clean. The down side is that it’s a little expensive, and you have to purchase the play tray separately, which makes it cost even more, and the tray doesn’t have any toys on it so you have to purchase those separately as well. Another problem is that babies outgrow them really quickly so the use is limited.
The infant seat that I used and really loved is the Summer Infant 3 Stage Super Seat. First of all, it’s less expensive than the Bumbo, and it includes a tray with toys on it that you can rotate around. My son loved these toys, he would play with them for ages. Another advantage is that it has an insert on the seat that you can take out so you can still use the chair as your baby gets bigger. It also converts to a booster seat, which is lightweight and great for travel. For less money, I think it’s a lot more versatile than the Bumbo.
Note: for safety, it’s recommended that you use these seats on the floor.
Exersaucers and Activity Centers
As your baby grows and develops, you’ll want to find ways to continue to keep the pressure off the head during play time. Exersaucers or activity centers are a great way to do that. Doctors and developmental specialists are advising against walkers and bouncers these days, but an exersaucer is a great way for your baby to safely have fun. It’s a lifesaver when you need to put your baby someplace safe while you do something else (like make dinner!). I had a very similar activity center to the Baby Einstein Neptune Activity center (mine was also a Baby Einstein but I don’t think they make that model anymore). My son and I both absolutely loved it. We started using this when he was about five months old, and at fourteen months (he is not walking yet) he still loves it and never gets bored with the toys.
Wraps, slings, and carriers
Wraps, slings and carriers are a great way to keep pressure off the back of your baby’s head, and also to keep your hands free while you do other things! For more information on these products including how to use babywearing to prevent or treat flat head syndrome, please see our article on this topic. Here are some of the most popular ones:
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More to come….
I’ll be posting more information here about other useful products.
In the meantime, please leave a comment and let us know what products you’ve found helpful and which ones just a waste of money!
For complete information on all types of flat head syndrome in babies, as well as how to prevent and treat these conditions, please take a look at our ebook.
Note: The information in this article represents my honest opinion about these products. Some of the product links in this article are affiliate links, in which case this website will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on these links. These commissions are used to maintain this website and its contents. A percentage of any profits made will be donated to a fund for parents whose babies need a helmet but cannot afford it. Thank you for your understanding and support.