Now that most babies are placed on their backs to sleep, you see flat head syndrome in infants who prefer to keep their heads in a certain position when they’re sleeping and laying in car seats, strollers, bouncers, swings, etc. Preemies are also more prone to flat head syndrome.
While a flat spot on the head has been thought to be mostly cosmetic (imagine if your little guy has to shave his head down the road! Yikes!), there may be situations where it’s more serious. Some people wonder if the baby will be at risk for eye, ear, and jaw problems down the road. And some research is starting to show potential learning problems for kids with flat head syndrome.
How flat head syndrome develops
Due to the pressure on the favored spot during sleep time, a baby’s still-forming skull will actually flatten and lose its natural rounded shape. This may result in one spot on the side of the head that is flattened, or the entire back flattening out. Either way, the flat spot is often accompanied by a bulge in another spot to accommodate, resulting in a misshapen head.
From the beginning, we alternated positions in the crib for our first son on the advice of our pediatrician, and he ended up with a perfectly shaped little head.
But then I started to see our second baby developing a flat spot. He sleeps propped up in the Fisher Price Sleep and Play bassinet, to help with his reflux. I noticed that the back of his head was becoming quite flat, and his skull was starting to bulge out at his temples! From the side, he looked a bit cone headed. I couldn’t believe it. And because it was gradual, it took some time for me to notice.
The changing shape of his skull was actually altering how his face looked. And not in a good way.
Not wanting my child to end up looking like Charlie Brown, I searched for remedies. He was only three months old, so his skull was still very pliable.
- Repositioning him seemed like a good option. But it didn’t work, due to where he sleeps and an already strong preference for his head position.
- Many experts recommend tummy time for all awake play time. But for us, tummy time was only a few minutes a day, since he still sleeps about 16 hours every day.
- They also recommend not letting your baby sleep very much in the car seat, bouncy seat or swing, though he didn’t do that anyway. We use a sling more than the stroller and rarely spend time in the car.
I found a product that is helping. The Boppy Noggin Nest has a donut hole in the back, so it holds the baby’s head in position and relieves the pressure.
Though this pillow is not a medical device intended for treating flat head syndrome, it’s working. After a few weeks of use, my son’s head is rounding out nicely. It’s still a bit flat in back, but the sides are no longer bulging out, and he looks more like he had before I noticed the problem. BIG sigh of relief here.
Have you had any issues with flat head syndrome with your baby? If so, what did you do? Please share with our readers here!