With the incidence of flat head syndrome soaring since the Back to Sleep Campaign, parents are now actively seeking a baby pillow to prevent their child from suffering with a flat head for their child.
Pillows for flat head syndrome are seen as one of the cheapest and most readily available options for prevention, however their use is not medically encouraged and seen as unsafe by many. Please read on to find out the reasons why plagiocephaly pillows can put your child at risk and some alternative methods for safely preventing flat head syndrome.
Plagiocephaly pillows contravene the safety advice issued by the NHS and the Safe to Sleep guidelines from the American Department of Health. Both recommend that babies always sleep on the back on a flat, firm surface, without duvets, quilts, blankets, wedges, bedding rolls or pillows.
The main reason for this is that if a baby’s face ends up pressed up against any such object, they will not be able to lift themselves up, increasing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Safety concerns aside, there is no scientific evidence to prove whether or not a flat head syndrome pillow will stop flat head syndrome. The fact remains, however, that placing your baby to sleep on a flat surface can leave an indentation on the skull. So, what is the solution?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that whilst babies must always sleep on their backs, they should be given time on their tummies whilst supervised. Repositioning your baby in this way will relieve pressure on the back of the head, helping to prevent flat head syndrome and reducing the risk of SIDS.
If you have a doughnut-shaped baby pillow, we recommend that this is only used to support the back of their head when they are awake and you are with them.
The usual time to begin repositioning is as soon as you notice a flattening, although it can be started any time from birth – and the sooner the better. Between the ages of four and five months, it will start to become less effective as your baby will be moving and rolling more independently.
If a flattening has already started to develop, you should begin repositioning immediately. Small changes, such as feeding your baby from alternating sides and moving objects of interest from one side of the cot to the other, can make all the difference, as can carrying your baby in your arms where possible rather than using a buggy or carry cot.
Not only does supervised tummy time help with flat head syndrome; it can also help you teach your baby to prop themselves up, and it’s excellent for strengthening the back, hips and neck muscles. More tips and techniques can be found in our repositioning guide.
We appreciate that it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the conflicting advice on the various products for flat head syndrome. As a parent your top priority will, of course, be the safety of your child, and until we know more, the safety concerns relating to plagiocephaly pillows far outweigh their potential benefits.
In many cases, repositioning your baby whilst awake can provide adequate correction for mild flat head syndrome. However, if this has failed to make the difference that you had hoped for by the time your baby reaches four to six months of age, helmet therapy is a safe, effective and scientifically proven way to treat flat head syndrome.
If you have any concerns about the shape of your baby’s head and wish to enquire about helmet therapy, Technology in Motion can help. Call 0330 100 1800 to arrange a free, no-obligation assessment at your nearest clinic or browse our website for more information on flat head syndrome and the treatment options that we provide.
Trying to decide whether to give your baby plagiocephaly treatment with or without a helmet is by no means an easy task. Conflicting attitudes and opinions from GPs, HVs, the press, private clinics and other parents can often serve to heighten the anxiety – no matter how honourable the intentions behind their advice might be. (more…)
It’s not uncommon for babies to be diagnosed with both plagiocephaly and torticollis. The relationship between plagiocephaly and torticollis is slightly unusual as causality can go in either direction. In other words, sometimes plagiocephaly can cause torticollis and sometimes it’s the other way round. Keep reading for a more in-depth explanation of the relationship between plagiocephaly and torticollis!
Torticollis (also known as wry neck) is a very common condition which can often develop into plagiocephaly. It is characterised by an inability to turn the head fully in both directions, and there may also be a head tilt towards the affected muscle.
As the muscles tighten and become cramped, pain and discomfort will often be felt, causing your baby to become irritable. In infancy, torticollis can develop in a number of ways. Firstly, newborns can experience torticollis due to maintaining a specific position in the womb or after a difficult childbirth. Acquired torticollis happens shortly after birth, either as a result of some shortening from the position that the baby has been lying in or due to bruising during the birth. However your baby has acquired torticollis, seeking a professional diagnosis and pursuing active treatment is necessary.
This informative blog post explains what to do if your baby has torticollis, helping to prevent the face and skull from growing unevenly, and improving the range of motion of the head and neck of your baby.
Plagiocephaly can start to appear before or during birth but often takes a few weeks to become apparent. A parent or health professional may notice that the head has an altered shape with a flattening to the side or at the back. If this is severe, the face and forehead may also be asymmetrical, with one ear further forward than the other. There are many different factors that can cause Plagiocephaly in babies, and they all relate to the fact that infants are born with soft, malleable skulls. (more…)
Parents are often left in the dark about treatment options that are available Plagiocephaly. To help, we’ve created a plagiocephaly presentation that aims to provide parents, carers and healthcare professionals with the basic information they need to correct this common condition before it becomes severe. As well as this, providing a detailed summary of the presentation.
Many of the parents who come to see us are anxious about the shapes of their babies’ heads. We are often asked things like ‘what should a baby’s head look like?’ and ‘how severe a flattening is too severe?’, so we thought we might put a few minds at rest by answering some of these questions here. (more…)