Do Baby Carriers and Car Seats Cause Flat Head Syndrome?
The dramatic rise in the incidence of baby flat head syndrome over the last couple of decades has largely been attributed to the Back to Sleep Campaign. Placing babies on their back to sleep is essential as a means of reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but if the baby is kept in one position, it can put continual pressure on the back of the head, which can eventually cause a flat spot to emerge.
From awareness of the condition to ways to prevent it, articles on the topic of SIDS are being released all the time. Unfortunately, some of the advice offered to readers in these articles is not always helpful. To add our expert opinion to the mix, we thought we would share our official advice on how to create a safer sleeping environment so that you and your baby can enjoy a happy and healthy sleep.
Natalie, mother of 2 young boys with brachycephaly shares her son’s TiMband transformation with us:
When our first child was born, we noticed that he had severe brachycephaly. Following the advice of our GP health visitors and paediatrician, we did not seek treatment, assured that the issue would self-correct. Unfortunately, the head shape deformity did not improve over time and our eldest son, now 3 years old, has to live with brachycephaly.
Some babies develop flat head syndrome and one of the most common of these is Plagiocephaly, which involves the flattening of one side of the head. This is as a result of pressure being applied to one area of the head during early infancy or in the womb. A baby’s skull has not fully developed during the first few months of life with the plates within the skull being quite soft and malleable. This makes the head soft and able to unintentionally change in shape in the early weeks of life.
Jacqueline, mother to TiMband graduate, Logan, tells us all about her family’s plagiocephaly journey:
We first noticed there was something not quite right when Logan was only about a month or so. He only ever slept with his head to the right and there seemed to be a restriction of movement in his right arm. He’d had the standard health visitor checks and I got him weighed weekly so mentioned it to them then but nothing was really done about it. On Logan’s 8 week check-up, I raised my concerns with the GP who explained flat head syndrome and the importance of tummy time.
Jenny, mother to baby Seb, walks us through their family’s plagiocephaly journey:
When Seb was around 12 weeks old we started to notice that something wasn’t right. Seb’s head was flat at the back, his forehead was pronounced and there was a bulging to either side of his head over his ears. I raised these concerns with our Health Visitor who told me, “it will probably be alright by the time he’s about four years old and, if not, his hair will cover it up”. Needless to say, we were not comfortable with this response. It was such a ‘what if’ type scenario and where your little one is concerned, you like to try and do everything you can to make sure things are right for them.
Orthotics, not to be confused with prosthetics, which deals with the manufacture of missing or defective limbs, is the field of medicine concerned with the creation of custom-made external supports such as braces and splints. These external supports, otherwise known as orthoses, help to improve overall life quality through supporting, preventing and correcting issues within the neuromuscular and skeletal system.
From the setbacks to the celebrations, Nicola, mother of adorable baby Jenson, describes her little man’s plagiocephaly journey:
Jenson has always been a good sleeper, too good in fact. However, what we didn’t know was that his sleep was affecting his head shape!
Steph, mother to TiMband graduate Ardle (one year helmet-free, hooray!), shares her little man’s story:
We initially noticed there was something wrong with Ardle’s neck when he was 4 weeks old. However, he wasn’t officially diagnosed with flat head syndrome until he was seen at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow when he was just under 4 months old. At approximately 8 weeks old, when it became clear he had a wonky head shape, I sought information online and we received treatment from a chiropractor, osteopath and NHS physiotherapy. We tried repositioning techniques and undertook exercises for his neck.
How does plagiocephaly affect the head and face?
Plagiocephaly is predominantly identified by a flattening either at the back or to either side of the skull. As a direct result of this flattening, facial features can become misaligned and other issues may develop. The facial features subject to the most change include the eyes and the ears. As such, facial asymmetry is also regarded as a good indication of plagiocephaly.
Do cranial helmets influence ear position in babies with plagiocephaly?
In 2012, a paper was published in the Journal of Craniofacial Surgery exploring whether or not helmet therapy, such as TiMband treatment, influences the ear position in babies with positional plagiocephaly.
This is a question that we are often asked but it’s a difficult one to answer, as the changes can be so subtle.