Flat head syndrome – also called plagiocephaly – affects one in 10 babies but it’s easy to prevent and treat if you start early. Here are some tips …
Check out Master L showing how his mummy is helping him prevent plagiocephaly.
Master L favours his right side so mum has moved his stimulation to his left side during playtime.
4 other ways you can help prevent flat head syndrome
1. Alternate your baby’s head position each time they sleep
You should always follow Safe Sleeping Guidelines and place baby on their back to sleep. But when you put them down take note of which way their head is turned and then next time turn it to face the opposite way. A young baby spends a lot of time asleep and if they are always lying on the same spot their head will not grow symmetrically – a flat spot will develop.
2. Change your nursery layout
If your baby shows a preference for facing a certain direction take note of the way the nursery is laid out. Babies tend to look to the centre of a room or towards the doorway. You might have to change the way the cot faces or alternate ends of the cot each time you put baby to sleep.
During play time move the toys to the unfavourable side … like Master L is in the picture above.
3. Visit your GP or child health nurse
If the preference is unrelated to your nursery layout (ie baby looks to the left every time regardless of how often you reposition their head/move the furniture) see your GP or child health nurse. They can refer you to a physiotherapist to rule out a physical reason for the preference (eg. muscle tightness in the neck).
4. Give your baby tummy time when they’re awake
It is important that babies sleep on their backs. And it is also important to minimise the time spent on their backs when they are awake. This means cuddling them or carrying them in upright positions, using a baby carrier and giving them plenty of supervised tummy time. Tummy time will help develop your baby’s neck, shoulder, arm and back muscles. It will also help reduce the chance of your baby developing a flat spot as it gets them off the back of their head. Try to avoid prolonged use of rockers, swings, prams and carseats.