Most parents are well-informed as to the dangers of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), a condition associated strongly with stomach or side sleeping. You are probably well aware that the safest place to put your baby to sleep is on his or her back, but you may not know the problems that can result from this SIDS-reducing practice.
One trend which has emerged in the two decades since the start of the Back to Sleep campaign is a drastic increase in the number of cases of flat head syndrome. In order to prevent this condition, many parents may look for products such as pillows which can help. There are many brands and designs of pillows for the prevention of positional cephalic disorders. In this article, we’ll discuss the characteristics of a good flat head syndrome prevention pillow, and what to look for before you buy.
The most important thing that you need to understand is that infants should not use pillows without supervision. The use of baby pillows has been linked to SIDS deaths and also to suffocation of infants. Please check with your pediatrician before using any infant pillow and follow their advice.
Some pillows and other products have been specifically tested and found to be safe for use during sleep, but most pillows have not and should be used when you are able to keep an eye on your baby.
The good news is that the right pillow can help to prevent positional cephalic disorders, and in some cases, may even reverse existing positional plagiocephaly or brachycephaly. Positional cephalic disorders, also known as flat head syndrome, occur as a result of repeat pressure being applied to a part of your infant’s skull over a long period of time. Children with a preference for tilting their head to one side are particularly at risk especially if they have a condition known as muscular torticollis, which affects the movement of muscles in the neck.
Repeated pressure on a baby’s skull leads to a flat spot, and eventually to physical deformity of varying degrees. Pillows used to prevent this condition or reverse it in the early stages generally share a few characteristics. They prevent excess pressure from being placed on one location of the skull only by providing more surface contact in a symmetrical fashion, which also allows your child to freely rotate their head. This results in multiple areas of pressure on the skull, and decreases the likelihood that your baby will develop a flat spot, since pressure is distributed across the skull.
Before you purchase a pillow to prevent flat head syndrome, evaluate the product carefully. It should be made from a breathable fabric that wicks excess heat and sweat away from the baby in order to ensure appropriate temperature control and prevent suffocation.
For families with strong allergic histories, a hypoallergenic pillow should be used. Also make sure that the pillow is washable, or has a removable, washable cover. Machine washable is best, so that you can use the pillow on the same day you wash it! Another question to consider is the versatility of the device. Can you use the pillow in your baby’s car seat? Stroller? Where outside of the crib can it be used? The more frequently you employ the device while baby is on his or her back, the better!
Also consider price and safety. Don’t jump for the cheapest option. A poorly designed pillow, or a pillow designed for an older child can be dangerous for your infant. Prevent accidental suffocation by only purchasing pillows designed for babies newborn-6 months of age that are made of breathable materials.