The term flat head refers to the development of an abnormal flatness on the back or side of your baby’s head. While flatness on the back of your child’s head can occur due to a variety of reasons, most cases of flatness on the sides of your child’s head are related to infant positioning while sleeping.
This can also be referred to as positional plagiocephaly or positional molding, depending upon the severity of its occurrence and position on your baby’s head.
How do you know if your baby has a flathead? And how can you avoid it before it’s too late? First, let’s find out exactly what flathead syndrome is and why it occurs.
What is plagiocephaly (flathead syndrome)?
Plagiocephaly (also known as flat head syndrome) is when your baby’s skull becomes flattened due to pressure on the back of their head. There are several factors that can cause this, including birth trauma, breastfeeding, tummy time, and sleeping position.
What are the signs and symptoms of a flathead?
Flat head syndrome can happen when a baby spends too much time in one position while they are sleeping.
One way you can tell if your baby has flathead syndrome is by feeling their head. If it feels like there is a flat spot on one side of the baby’s head, then they could have this condition.
Another sign of flathead syndrome is if you see a round indentation on one side of the baby’s forehead.
Babies with this condition might also experience some discomfort and pain due to pressure on the skull. There are ways that parents can prevent flathead syndrome from happening in their child though!
Why does my baby have a flat spot on their head?
One of the important tips for newborn care is managing the sleep positions of your baby. For the first six months of your baby’s life, the safest place for them to sleep is on their back in a crib next to your bedroom. Babies who sleep on their backs are less likely to die of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). What this means is that babies less than 1 year old, who appear to be otherwise healthy, will often die unexpectedly while sleeping. The cause of the death will be undetermined.
Babies’ skulls are fragile. Furthermore, their neck muscles are relatively weak. When placed on their backs, babies tend to automatically move their heads to one side. For this reason, your baby’s head may look flat at birth. This is known as flat head (or positional plagiocephaly).
This can go away by itself. More severe flattening might never fully go away, but this will not impact a baby’s brain development.
How can I prevent my baby from developing a flat head?
Strategy #1 – The number one thing you can do is make sure your baby has plenty of tummy time. Placing the baby on his or her stomach for about an hour each day will allow the head muscles to strengthen and give the skull more space to expand as it grows. When your baby is awake, try periodically turning his or her head from side-to-side so that he or she isn’t always looking straight ahead.
Strategy #2 – Try placing different toys in front of him or her to encourage him or her to reach with both hands. Let him or her play with their feet while lying on their back and avoid putting them down before they are ready (put them in bouncy seats, swings, and car seats when they need a break).
Strategy #3 – Consider using a soft and supportive pillow made just for babies to provide extra support when they sleep. And if you’re breastfeeding, be aware that if your little one nurses frequently throughout the day and night, then these periods of increased pressure might contribute to flattening his or her head.
When should I consider calling a doctor?
It’s never a bad idea to take your infant to a pediatrician if he or she seems to be developing flat head syndrome. A checkup will be beneficial to make sure that your infant isn’t suffering from craniosynostosis, which is caused by a genetic defect that stops the cranial bones from fusing correctly.
Your pediatrician will be able to monitor your child’s growth and development, and give you the right advice you need to reverse the situation. Please feel free to schedule an appointment with us to get a detailed assessment of your child’s health with our best pediatrician’s in Mumbai.