Flat Head / Plagiocephaly
Flat Head Syndrome, officially called plagiocephaly, can happen when a baby's head develops a flat spot from repeated pressure on that area. Babies are vulnerable because their skull is soft and pliable when they're born. This allows them to fit through the birth canal.
Wondering why you see so many babies in helmets?
Well, since the start of "The Back To Sleep" Campaign, many babies lives have been saved through SIDS prevention. However, we have seen a five-fold increase in plagiocephaly. (A worthwhile trade, of course. I would take a flat spot over SIDS any day!) Because the skull is still moldable, the helmet helps re-shape it.
We do notice that parents who report having "good sleepers" tend to have higher incidences of flat spots. Since our goal is for you to have a good sleeper, let's talk about some possible prevention interventions:
(Please note: Sometimes you do everything “right” and a helmet/doc band is still needed. NO Mommy Guilt Allowed!)
Bedtime and Naps: Alternate the direction your baby's head is facing when you put her to sleep. To encourage this, lay her down with her head at a different end of the crib every day.
Feeding Time: Alternate sides whenever you feed your baby a bottle. (You do this automatically if you breastfeed!)
Sitting Time: Avoid leaving your baby for extended periods of time in a car seat, infant seat, baby swing, baby carrier, or other place where her head is likely to rest on the same spot.
Tummy Time: During waking hours, supervised tummy time helps prevent pressure on the head. Start with 1-2 minutes at a time.
Ask for a referral for Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy from your Pediatrician: These professionals often can teach you exercises that are very helpful. Early intervention can be key.
Sleep and The Helmet:
Wondering about sleep while using the helmet? Many parents report that their little ones still have great sleep after getting a helmet. Others say that after a few rough nights, nights are back to sleep as usual.
Can you sleep train with a helmet? Of course! We do recommend waiting 4-7 nights after baby receives his/her helmet just to allow for an adjustment period first.
Please note that we are NOT an experts in plagiocephaly. Please direct any questions about flat head syndrome to your pediatrician.