Flat head syndrome affects 1 in 25 babies in the UK and can occur due to a number of reasons. The prevalence of flat head in babies has increased over the past few decades following the very successful advice that baby’s should be put on their back to sleep, to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDs). This advice is still important and should always be followed, but flat head in babies can be an unwanted side effect of this positioning. To try and avoid this from developing, check out this guide and find out how to prevent flat head syndrome.
1. Change baby’s head position in crib
Something as simple as repositioning your baby can make the world of difference in preventing flat head syndrome. Babies are more susceptible to developing a flattening when they spend a lot of time with pressure to the same part of their head. It’s important to know that, although babies should always be placed on their back to sleep, parents can still encourage their little one to turn to different parts of their head.
For example, by changing the positioning of toys hanging above your baby’s cot, you can help influence which part of their head your baby will lie on. Additionally, alternating the orientation of your baby within their crib can have an impact in helping to prevent flat head syndrome. Make sure to take a look at our repositioning guide for more advice on how to prevent plagiocephaly with repositioning.
2. Plenty of tummy time during the day
Tummy time is an important activity that is highly recommended by us. Although putting a baby on their back is important for sleep, supervised tummy time gives your little one’s head a rest whilst encouraging the development of important muscles in their neck and shoulders. Read our tummy time guide for tips on how to make this fun for your baby, and make sure that you supervise them at all times.
3. Alternate feeding position
When researching how to prevent plagiocephaly in babies, a lot of parents might not realise the impact that simple changes can make. One of these changes is to alternate feeding positions, making sure that you aren’t holding your baby in the same arm during feeding, particularly when bottle feeding. This will prevent your little one from leaning against you on the same area of their head. You might already do this naturally, but this simple repositioning method is a great technique to help prevent flat head.
4. Hold your baby and limit time in car seats
Ultimately, the more time that a baby spends lying on their back or in their car seat/carry cot, the more likely to are to develop a flattening on their head. To avoid this, we advise that you make more of a conscious effort to spend time holding your baby or using a sling (baby wearing) instead of having them constantly lying down. Additionally, take your little one out of their car seat as soon as a journey is over to remove the external pressure to their head. Car seat manufacturers recommend that a baby should not be in a seat for more than 2 hours without a break. For more information on the relationship between carry cots, car seats, and flat head syndrome, refer to our guide.
5. Cranial helmet therapy
Despite the prevention techniques available, flat head syndrome can still develop. For severe cases, further treatment can be required to correct a head shape deformity. If repositioning techniques have failed, our clinicians at Technology in Motion assess the severity of a baby’s flattening and decide whether a cranial helmet is required to correct it. However, this is only recommended once repositioning techniques have failed and the condition is severe enough.
These helmets not only prevent flat head syndrome from getting worse, but correct the condition and guide a baby’s head towards a more normal head shape. These helmets are an advanced cranial remoulding treatment and bring about the gentle correction of a head shape in a pain-free and effective manner. Our helmet, the TiMband, is custom-made for each baby and their head shape. We have helped many babies to overcome flat head syndrome, and have a few case studies to take you through their journey.
We hope that these techniques will help you understand how to prevent flat head in your baby, and in most cases, repositioning and tummy time efforts will be successful. For babies that do still develop a severe flattening and/or reposition techniques aren’t working, we recommend booking a free, no-obligation appointment at your nearest Technology in Motion clinic. Our clinicians will advise you on whether or not your little one would benefit from a cranial helmet.
If you would like any additional advice or information, contact us and we will be happy to help!