At about 8 weeks of age, many parents start to notice that their baby has started to develop a flattening. At this age we always recommend repositioning to get your baby away from the flat spot both when they’re sleeping or awake. Here are some hints and tips on how to start to improve your baby’s head shape before needing to think about using a TiMband.
Our first advice must be to: Always place your baby on the back to sleep. Not on the side or in your own bed. This advice has reduced the incidence of sudden infant death hugely. For more information on minimising the risk of Sudden Infant Death, take a look at the Lullaby Trust website.
If your baby is starting to develop a flattened area on the head, positional plagiocephaly treatment is the preferred method of treatment up to the age of 4 to 5 months. If your baby’s head shape is not responding by 5 months of age then cranial remoulding may be considered.
As soon as you notice your baby is developing a flattening.
When Asleep and at Night.
BABIES SHOULD ALWAYS BE PLACED ON THEIR BACKS TO SLEEP.
Babies may need your help to change their head position until they can do it on their own. As your baby sleeps, gently turn their head to vary the position that it rests in.
Change the position of toys and other interesting things that your baby likes to look at from one side to the other.
Babies who suck a thumb tend to turn towards that side. Try covering the thumb that is sucked or encourage them to suck the opposite one.
Alternate the end of the cot that your baby lies at to encourage looking to the other side.
If your baby sleeps in your bedroom in a crib or Moses basket, turn this around regularly so that your baby is not looking in the same direction all the time.
Due to current advice, we can not recommend the use of pillows or sleep positioners in the cot however, there are many on the market.
During the Day When Awake.
Tummy on Knee
Don’t feed your baby from the same side every time. If you are breast feeding, then you will be doing this naturally. If you are feeding with a bottle, alternate the side that you feed from.
Back to Sleep, Tummy to Play
Remove pressure from the back of the head for at least half of the time when your baby is awake
Use a carry sling
Take your baby out of the car seat / buggy when not travelling
Don’t place your baby flat on the back, on a firm surface in a play gym.
Baby on Tummy
Place your baby on the tummy to play when awake and you are with them. This is great exercise. They learn how to prop with their arms and it is really good exercise to develop all the spinal extensors and hips.
If your baby struggles, try rolling up a towel and placing it under his chest to give additional support.
Many parents say that their baby does not like to go on to their tummy and starts to cry or complain. If so, then try starting a little more gently.
Cross your knees and lie your baby across them with the arms propping on your crossed knee and your hand supporting under the bottom.
Carry face down along your forearm like a sleeping tiger. Or carry your baby facing out rather than cradled in your arm. Use a papoose or carrying sling.
When sitting, don’t let your baby sit back against you. This is a really easy position and does not encourage core strength in the trunk or neck to develop. Sit your baby across your leg like riding a horse, slightly leaning forward with your arms around the body.
When sitting or feeding, don’t use an infant carrier, car seat or buggy insert too much. There are several seats on the market which allow infants over four months old to sit without pressure on the back of the head.
If your baby has a tight neck or torticollis, which means that one of the side neck muscles is much tighter than the other, you should see a physiotherapist or osteopath as soon as it is noticed. Although the majority of infants who have a torticollis have a simple tight muscle, there are other causes of this condition and you should seek medical attention before working on stretches to improve the range of motion of the neck. Carrying your baby ‘sleeping tiger’ will help to improve the range of motion on the tight side.
All of these simple things add up to improving your baby’s strength and spine and neck control and will reduce the tendency for a flattening to develop. If you are not seeing a great change by the age of 5 months then cranial remoulding will improve the head shape much more rapidly and more fully than will occur naturally.
If by the age of four or five months, you are not seeing any significant improvement, please call us on 0330 100 1800 to make an appointment for a free no obligation assessment.