What you need to know about Flat Head Syndrome in babies (Guest Post)

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Nap in my lap [Explored]

The first few weeks of life with a newborn can be hectic, heartbreaking, joyful, and exciting. You spend more time measuring how much your little one has grown than you may have ever anticipated, and no little detail goes unnoticed. Like his soft, tiny fingers with their perfect nails, his precious nose, and sometimes a flat spot on the back of his head.

Flat spot?

If you’ve just noticed your newborn has a misshapen head or a flat spot on the back of his head, don’t panic. Some babies have them when they are born, and their head shape may return to normal in the next week or so. Then again, if your baby has had that flat spot for a few weeks, or if you notice head flattening that was not their previously or is getting worse, it is time to talk to your doctor. Your child may have a positional cranial deformity, or a form of flat head syndrome.

A what?

Some babies may develop a flat spot on the back or side of their heads. If the spot is the result of pressure on the bones of the skull, causing them to grow to match the flat shape that their head rests against, the condition is a positional cranial deformity, also known as Flat Head Syndrome. It is important to see your doctor to make sure that this is the case, however. Sometimes, position isn’t the issue. The bones in the skull can close too early, leading to a very similar-looking deformity, but with very different treatment and consequences.

How do you treat Flat Head Syndrome?

Plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, and scaphocephaly – collectively referred to as positional cranial deformities, or Flat Head Syndrome – are treated at first by repositioning and tummy time, which should start when you first notice any flattening, the younger the better. When your baby spends time playing in tummy time, they strengthen their neck and back muscles. This can reduce the amount of time they spend on their backs, as well. Repositioning means turning your little one’s head so that it faces a different direction each time that you lay them down to sleep. Both of these techniques reduce the amount of pressure placed on one concentrated area of the skull, which is the primary cause of Flat Head Syndrome.

Sarah and son

If your child’s case of Flat Head Syndrome is more severe, you may need to look into physical therapy or even a helmet or orthotic band may also be advisable. These devices help your baby’s skull to resume growing in a normal and healthy way, and can correct head flattening if treatment is started when the baby is still young, ideally between 4-8 months. Surgery is not a recommended method of treatment, regardless of the severity of your child’s positional deformity.  The important thing is to seek help and begin therapy as early as possible.

If you would like to learn more about Flat Head Syndrome, and gain access to numerous tips and resources, check out the website http://www.babyflathead.org.

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