What is the flat spot on my baby's head?
Posted on 5/23/2019 by Andrea Pavlik, C.O., Cfm
You just brought your perfect little bundle of joy home and are eagerly looking forward to watching them grow. A few months go by and you notice that their head shape is flat on one side. Why is this? Is it natural? Should you be concerned?
In 1992, the American Association of Pediatrics launched its most successful program ever: the “Back to Sleep” campaign, which served to combat Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). SIDS, also known as crib death, is the sudden, unexplained and leading cause of death in children from one moth to one year of age. The campaign encouraged parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs, helping to reduce SIDS by more than 40 percent.
However, the “Back to Sleep” campaign had a now recognized unintended consequence: plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome. Plagiocephaly is characterized by the development of a flat spot on the back or side of the head. A baby’s head is very soft, and they spend excessive time laying on their backs while in cribs, beds, bouncers, car seats, high chairs, etc. This leads to an increase in the number of infants who acquire skull deformities.
Why do babies’ heads deform?
Plasticity of newborns skull make is susceptible to external pressures
Immobility of newborns
Abnormalities to the skull present at birth
What are contributing risk factors?
Prolonged positioning on their backs and back of head
Lack of tummy time
Multiple birth infants
Is this serious?
It is perfectly normal for newborns to have abnormal head shapes; however, they should resolve within a few weeks.
If flat spots are still apparent, some help may be needed to correct the problem.
Do a simple test by looking at your baby’s head and comparing to the chart below.
To be sure of the normalcy of your baby’s head shape, consult your physician.
It is fixable? Absolutely! There are several treatment options to help correct the flat spot.
Let nature take her course: Many minor flat spots will resolve on their own as the child ages, but try to keep your baby off their backs as much as possible by engaging in some quality tummy time.
Tummy time: This can be done starting from the day you bring your baby home from the hospital. Tummy time is simply that: placing your child, while supervised, on their tummy or side. This can include while being carried, diapering, feeding and playing. Please check out this tummy time guide.
STARband: By using a plastic helmet that is worn for 23 hours per day, your baby’s head is gently guided into a more normal shape. Please consult your physician and/or orthotist for more detailed information.
NovaCare Prosthetics & Orthotics offers complimentary consultations for cranial remolding helmets in many of our locations, courtesy of our certified cranial remolding specialists and orthotists. Our team will educate you on repositioning techniques, plagiocephaly and protocols for the device your child may use. Over the course of treatment, we can adjust the custom-fit helmet as the baby’s head improves.
For more information or to schedule your complimentary consultation, please contact a NovaCare Prosthetics & Orthotics center near you
The cutie pictured above is one of our cranial remolding graduates, Arvy Roberts.
By: Andrea Pavlik, C.O., Cfm. Andrea is a certified orthotist with NovaCare Prosthetics & Orthotics in Sheboygan, WI.
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