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How To Massage Baby Flat Head

Positioning Baby To Prevent A Flattened Head Shape Plagiocephaly

New technology for treating flat head syndrome in babies

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Since 1992, paediatric professionals have been promoting the Back to Sleep campaign to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome . Research has shown that over the years this campaign has resulted in a significant reduction in SIDS cases which is awesome. However, this change of sleeping position has, unfortunately, increased the numbers of babies presenting with heads that look out of shape due to a flat spot developing on the back or the side. Plagiocephaly is the term given for a flat spot on one side of the back of the head, while brachycephaly occurs in the middle portion of the back of the head. Sometimes plagiocephaly and brachycephaly can co-exist. To distinguish from other causes of a flattened head shape, positional plagiocephaly and positional brachycephaly are discussed in this article.

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If the baby cries or becomes distressed while they are on their tummy:

What Is Flat Head Syndrome

Plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, and dolichocephaly are different types of infant flat head syndrome.

These shape types are caused by external forces on the baby’s head before or after birth. Before birth, the baby’s position in the womb can put pressure on the skull. After birth, a baby’s positioning during sleep or wake time may lead to too much time spent with pressure on one area of a baby’s soft skull.

Plagiocephaly is the most common type of infant flat head syndrome. Generally, the back of the baby’s head is flat on one side. The baby may prefer to keep their head turned consistently to one side. Plagiocephaly can result from a tight muscle , the baby’s visual preference, or because gravity leads them to turn and rest on the flat side, especially if a flat spot was present at birth. Often parents will be the first to notice the flat spot. Without intervention, the flattening may worsen. This can cause the ear, forehead, and jaw on the same side to shift forward from their typical position.

Brachycephaly is the second most common type of flat head syndrome. The back of the head is flattened instead of curved. This is often caused because the child spends too much time lying on their back or in equipment such as car seats or swings. Brachycephaly can cause the head shape to widen, and the ears may cup or roll forward due to the pressure on the skull bones.

Dolichocephaly is the flattening of the head from side to side. It is common in the womb with:

Can Plagiocephaly Lead To Complications

Positional plagiocephaly is considered more of a cosmetic issue than a medical one. In the majority of cases, it doesnt affect brain development or growth. Most cases improve as the child gets older and spends more time sitting, crawling, and standing.

In a where head circumference was regularly measured in 200 babies from birth to 2 years old, the incidence of positional plagiocephaly was:

  • 16 percent at 6 weeks
  • 19.7 percent at 4 months
  • 6.8 percent at 12 months
  • 3.3 percent at 24 months

A more recent study indicates an increased percentage: a little over 46 percent for babies who are 7 to 12 weeks old.

This increase may be due to the Back to Sleep campaign , started in 1994, which advises placing babies on their back to sleep to reduce risk of SIDS.

Any lasting changes to the skull are generally mild and camouflaged by hair.

Surgery is usually necessary in a baby with congenital plagiocephaly when sutures in the skull have prematurely closed. Surgery can help relieve pressure in the skull and allow the brain to grow normally.

Surgery may also reduce the risk of complications like these:

  • developmental delays

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What Are The Signs Of Flat Head Syndrome

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Either your doctor will notice your babys flat head at one of your regular well child visits or you might recognize some of the common symptoms. Halfin sees babies as young as five weeks old for an assessment, although she usually first sees them around the two- to four-month mark.

There are three types of flat head syndrome. The most common is positional plagiocephaly, which means there is a flat spot on the left or right side of the head because the baby keeps their head turned to that side. One ear may be further forward than the other one eye may appear smaller than the other and one cheek may be fuller than the other.

Brachycephaly means there is a flat spot at the back of the babys head. The head may be wider or taller than usual, and the tips of the ears may stick out.

Finally, positional scaphocephaly is a flattening of both sides of the head. This is quite common in babies who are in the NICU and spend time lying on their side. It can also be caused by the early fusion of the plates of the skull.

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What If The Flat Spot Wont Go Away

If your babys head is held unusually still, he has a distinct head-side or position preference, he is having difficulty nursing, bottle feeding is stressful, or he is resisting positions like tummy time contact your pediatrician or a pediatric physical therapist who specializes in treating infants. It is best not to take a wait and see approach because most of a babys head growth happens between birth and 6-8 months and this is the best time to make big changes in head shape and mobility. Most consultations are free and professionals can offer advice and solutions that can help you and your baby.

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How Is Flat Head Syndrome Treated

Caregivers should always place babies on their back to sleep to help prevent sudden infant death syndrome , even with possibility of flat head syndrome. Avoiding swings, car seats, bouncy chairs, and other devices is safest for sleep and also helps to make sure that babies can move their head freely.

So what can parents do when flat head syndrome is due to a sleeping or lying position? Simple practices like changing a baby’s sleep position, holding your baby, and providing lots of “tummy time” can help it go away.Try these tips:

  • Practice tummy time. Provide plenty of supervised time for your baby to lie on the stomach while awake during the day. Tummy time:
  • helps normal shaping of the back the head
  • encourages a baby’s learning and discovery of the world
  • helps babies strengthen their neck muscles and learn to push up on their arms. This helps develop the muscles needed for crawling and sitting up.
  • Vary positions in the crib. Consider how you lay your baby down in the crib. Most right-handed parents carry infants cradled in their left arms and lay them down with the heads to their left. In this position, the infant must turn to the right to look out into the room. Position your baby in the crib to encourage active turning of the head to the side that’s not flattened.
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    When To Worry About Flat Head Spots On Your Babys Head

    Its always a good idea to talk with your babys doctor if you notice any flat spots developing on your babys head.

    In most cases, your doctor will probably want to monitor your babys progress to make sure that the condition is improving and not getting worse.

    Meanwhile, theres PLENTY that parents can do to help a flat head correct itself! Yay!

    Its important to be proactive. Fortunately, there are lots of ways that you can help to reverse this condition, so dont waste any time!

    What Options Are Available If I Cant Afford Services

    Plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome in babies)

    Some parents have taken up fundraising on their own behalf using crowd sourcing. There are groups of wealthy individuals wanting to help those in need and that qualify. These are known as grants. In order to apply for the grant please contact the organization directly. This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather a starting place to help point you in the right direction.

    • Care creditOne non-traditional option that can help to cover healthcare costs is Care Credit. The company provides health care loans at a low interest for families that might not be able to afford treatment otherwise. For example, at our office we provide zero percent financing for 6 months for patients in need.
    • Crowdfunding
  • First Hand Foundation
  • The Halo Project
  • The Lindsay Foundation
  • Travel Expense Costs
  • National Patient Travel Center
  • Air Care Alliance
  • Military familiesMay be able to obtain special grants for helmets and bands through their local Military Relief Organizations.
  • Early Childhood intervention
  • This program provides support and services to families with children, birth to a specific age, who have developmental delays and disabilities. The age varies depending upon your state.

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    Baby Massage Enhances Learning

    Studies show that massages can promote alertness, and when baby is more alert, he/she learns more. In one study, 4-month-olds who were given 8-minute massages responded more favorably to audio-visual habituation tasks than infants who did not receive massage.

    A relationship has been shown between skin-to-skin touch and intelligence, says Koch. The more tactile stimulation a baby receives in its first months of life up through the first year can impact their brain development permanently.

    Another study shows that this benefit of massage applies to preschoolers as well. When preschoolers are tested post-massage, they perform better.

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    My Newborn’s Head Is An Odd Shape What Can I Do To Make It Round

    • Prematurity. If your baby is premature, his bones will not have fully formed and will be very soft, meaning his head is more likely to be misshapen as he comes down the birth canal. Premature babies also take longer to control their heads than babies born at term, so they can’t relieve the pressure on a particular spot until they’re much older.
    • Multiple pregnancy. Your baby’s head may be an odd shape if he shares your womb with one or more siblings.
    • Low amniotic fluid . If you have low amniotic fluid, your baby does not have as much room to move around and is not as cushioned as babies with a higher level of fluid.

    Common Causes For This To Occur:

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    sleeping on their back the back or side of a baby’s head can become flattened as a result of always sleeping on their back, but it’s important they do this to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome

    position in utero pressure can be placed on a baby’s head before it’s born if things are a bit squashed in the womb or there’s a lack of amniotic fluid to cushion the baby

    premature birth premature babies are more likely to develop a flattened head because their skull is softer when they’re born and they may prefer to rest their head on one side at first because they’re not yet able to move their head themselves

    neck muscle tightness this can prevent a baby turning their head a particular way, meaning one side of their head is placed under more pressure

    Occasionally, a flattened head can be caused by the plates of the skull joining together too early. This is known as craniosynostosis.

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    Here Is What We Should Do

    • 1. The best way to fix the babys head shape is sleeping. The baby has a natural instinct to restore the head shape, as long as the parents change their babys sleeping positions regularly. Do not let the baby get used to a kind of sleeping position. If the bone bears the pressure for a long time, the shape of the skull must be affected. Mothers can change their babies sleeping posture every two to three hours.
    • 2. If the mom and baby sleep in the same bed, the baby will roll over to its mothers side unconsciously. The mother can change her sleeping position with her baby. In day one, you sleep on the babys left side. In day two, you can sleep on the babys right side. If the baby sleeps in a crib, you can change the babys sleeping direction every day.
    • 3. When you are nursing or holding the baby, please pay attention to change the direction. If there is a slight plagiocephaly, the mother can play with the baby on the other side. For example, entertain your baby with a toy on the other side. Also, gently massage the other side of your babys neck can relax it.
    • 4. Its not conducive to have a perfect head shape if babies prefer to sleep on their left or right side. In this case, mothers should do something. They can fold a soft towel and put it under the left or right side of babys head. Buy a comfortable baby head shaping pillow on Amazon or eBay for a baby over 3 months old.

    How Do You Fix It

    If your babys doc does determine they have positional plagiocephaly, the treatment will depend on the severity of the condition. The most common treatment is positioning therapy, or reducing pressure on the skull by making sure baby doesnt spend too much time in one position. This typically involves lots of tummy time . Of course, you should never leave your little one unsupervised during tummy time for safetys sake.

    Another way to help keep your babys head round is to switch up the sides you lay down your baby. Dont always put them down to sleep on their right side. Mix it up and make a note of which side your baby took a nap on, so you can make sure youre rotating sides. And, dont be afraid to sneak into your babys room while theyre sleeping to turn their heads from left to right, every hour or so.

    It also helps to hold your baby in your arms more. You want to lessen the amount of time your little one rests on their back and head. When theyre in your arms, your babys head isnt pressed against a flat surface, which limits the pressure on their forming heads. Its also a great way to increase skin to skin contact with your little one, which is always a bonus.

    Lets say youve been working hard to make adjustments, and your babys head shape doesnt seem to be changing. In that case, their pediatrician may recommend a special helmet to help gently reshape the head. In rare cases, your doctor may even want to discuss surgery as a corrective option.

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    Flat Head Syndrome Isnt A Proper Condition Because Treatment Is Not Nhs Funded

    In the UK, the NHS does not fund treatment for flat head syndrome, despite a rise in prevalence and an increase in research surrounding the condition. The advice given by the NHS to parents whose baby has a flat head is that, Your babys skull should correct itself naturally over time if you take some simple measures to take pressure off the flattened part of their head and encourage them to try different positions, arguing that the condition is just cosmetic. However, the reality is that some head shapes are so severe that simple repositioning techniques will not work in time before the corrective head growth slows down.

    There are also various research papers that explore long-term effects of untreated flat head syndrome, as well as the possibility of children being vulnerable to trauma from bullying and social exclusion. Despite the NHS failing to acknowledge these factors, the condition very much exists, and babies can benefit from good treatment if the syndrome is severe.

    At Technology in Motion, our website and blog are a source of much information surrounding flat head syndrome. If you are concerned about your babys head shape, contact us today to book a free consultation appointment at your nearest clinic.

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