From Flat to Fabulous: A Comprehensive Look at Plagiocephaly

Pregnancy is a joyous time in a woman’s life, filled with anticipation and wonder. However, it can also come with some unexpected challenges. One such challenge that parents may encounter is plagiocephaly, a condition that affects the shape of a baby’s head. Today we dive headfirst (pun intended) into this topic, so grab your favorite hot beverage and let’s chat all things “flat-head syndrome.”

What is Plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly, often referred to as flat-head syndrome, is a condition in which a baby’s head develops a flat spot, typically on one side or the back. This condition can occur when a baby’s head experiences prolonged pressure against a flat surface, for instance, a crib mattress. It’s important to note that plagiocephaly may be a common issue, though it is not “normal,” and should be addressed by a professional.

How do you recognize Plagiocephaly?

Sometimes, plagiocephaly becomes apparent when a baby displays limited head movement or discomfort when turning their head in a particular direction. Parents may also notice a flattened area on their baby’s head. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional if you suspect your baby may have plagiocephaly.

How do we address it?

Treatment for plagiocephaly typically begins with measures to promote natural head shape correction. These include:

  1. Tummy Time: Encourage your little one to spend supervised time on their tummy while they are awake. This helps reduce pressure on the back of the head and promotes the development of neck and upper body strength. Put toys on both sides of the baby so they spend time looking both directions.
  2. Positional Changes: Alter your baby’s head position during sleep and awake times to reduce pressure on the flat spot. For example, you can change the direction their head faces in the crib or alternate sides while feeding.
  3. Chiropractic Care: Chiropractors provide gentle adjustments to your baby’s neck and spine. This improves head movement and eases discomfort associated with plagiocephaly.
  4. Physical Therapy: A pediatric physical therapist can work with your baby to enhance their neck and upper body strength, further aiding in the correction of plagiocephaly.

 Helmets – A Necessary Fashion Statement?

In more severe cases of plagiocephaly, a pediatrician may recommend the use of a helmet or cranial orthosis. This specialized headgear gently reshapes the baby’s head by applying consistent, gentle pressure. They typically decide to use a helmet after careful assessment and consultation with healthcare professionals.

An Ounce of Prevention . . .

Preventing plagiocephaly is preferable to treatment. To minimize the risk, remember to:

  • Prioritize Tummy Time: Make sure your baby gets plenty of supervised tummy time during the day. This helps evenly distribute pressure on the head.
  • Limit Time in Baby Gear: Avoid prolonged periods in baby gear such as car seats, swings, and bouncers. Use them for their intended purposes but be mindful of the duration.
  • Frequent Position Changes: Alter your baby’s position regularly while they are awake, ensuring they aren’t spending too much time with their head resting in one position.
  • Consult with professionals: If you have concerns about your baby’s head shape or movement, don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a pediatrician or healthcare provider.

How can a Chiropractic Care Plan help?

A tired mama brought in her 6-week-old and mentioned colic on her intake form as her main concern. Her goals for her baby were for him to sleep better at night and a decrease in crying from discomfort. As we worked with the little guy, we noticed restricted movement when he turned his head toward his left side. We also noticed some flattening of his head on the back and right side. He seemed very uncomfortable and cried frequently when placed on his stomach.

Six weeks into his care, his head movement to the left improved and was within normal range. Eight weeks into his care plan, his tummy time improved. The baby also had visits with a pediatric physical therapist during this same time. Over the course of his 3-month care plan, his flat spot decreased. We used a measuring device called a craniometer to measure his changes. At age 6 months, his pediatrician ordered a helmet to help with the last part of the cranial shape.

While it may concern parents, it’s important to remember that there are effective ways to address flat head syndrome. By following preventive measures, encouraging tummy time, and seeking help from healthcare professionals, as well as regular chiropractic care, you can ensure your baby’s head develops beautifully and naturally. Still concerned? Call the office and make an appointment. We would love to help!

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