PREVENTING A FLAT HEAD
Everybody wants their baby to have a beautiful round head. A flat head is not only a problem in the future if your child decides to shave their head, but there can actually be other significant issues that may arise. Imagine if you took a perfectly round ball of clay and drew a line down the middle separating it into two sides. If you took a flat palm and squished down on the back of one side to mimic a flat side of the head, what happens to the front of that side? The front naturally gets pushed forward and causes the ball of clay to become asymmetric. Something similar can happen with the head of babies, potentially distorting the natural symmetry of the face permanently. Here are a few tips to prevent flattening of your baby’s head in the first 4-5 months of life.
Firstly, tummy time while awake for 10 minutes three times per day. This will promote neck strength and keep your baby off the back of their head.
Secondly, during the first 4-5 months of life, parents are recommended to have babies sleep on their backs. Your baby will always look towards the more interesting side of the crib, usually towards the side where there’s more movement. Always placing your baby with their head pointing in the same direction can cause regular nightly pressure on the same side of the head, leading to a flat spot.
So to help prevent this, alternate the position in which your baby’s head faces each night. For example, place your baby with their head pointing to the left side of the crib on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Then on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, do the opposite and place your baby with their head pointing to the right side of the crib. Sundays can be determined by a coin toss or a simple game of rock, paper, scissors between parents. If you worry about forgetting which side your child was facing the night before, tape a sign to the crib with the following on it “<– M, W, F // T, Th, Sa –>, Sun (??)”.
Keep in mind, this prevention tip only works in the first 4-5 months. This is because after this time, babies can start rolling over on their own and therefore will not necessarily stay in the same place you left them.
If you find your baby is always looking in one direction regardless of how they are held or placed in bed, then this is a warning sign that they may need to be seen by a health care professional for assessment of torticollis or twisted neck.