How can we prevent the flat head syndrome?

When a newborn arrives in your house, a lot of questions arise. On of the major concerns for all parents is how to prevent the flat head syndrome.

It is therefore important to understand how it happens to find ways to prevent it.

Let's start by defining what plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome is. In fact, it is a flattening of the skull that occurs after a prolonged external pressure on your baby's head. The skull of a baby is very malleable at birth and that is because of the absence of ossification in its sutures, the junctions between the different bones of the skull. This malleability lasts a few months and begins to decrease around the fourth month of your child's life. It is therefore important to use that time to make the necessary adjustments to treat the flattening. Plagiocephaly can cause delays in the overall motor development of a child in his first months of life. It is therefore important to take care of it. The fastest a child is evaluated, the less impact plagiocephaly will have.

What are the possible causes of plagiocephaly?
  • Intrauterine position, which is the position of the baby inside the uterus (lack of space);
  • Reducing cervical mobility can force babies to keep their head always in the same position;
  • A decrease in cervical mobility may be caused, for example, by the intrauterine position, by the use of forceps or vacuum during childbirth;
  • Always placing babies on their back.
Tummy position

“Should we still put him on his tummy” is a question that often comes up. Since the "Back to Sleep" recommendation, the incidence of sudden infant death decreased by 40%1. However, many parents are now concerned about placing children on their tummy during their waking periods. This lack of tummy play could cause early gross motor skills delays and plagiocephaly. In the long run, it can affect the overall development of a child's ability to learn to grab objects, crawl and walk on all fours, stand and walk.

It is important to start putting him on his tummy from birth, a few minutes at a time, for a total of about an hour a day and until the age of three months2. Babies often complain when placed on their stomach. The earlier you start after birth with a regular tummy play schedule, the faster your child will strengthen his neck, body and shoulders muscles. Varying the positions of your child is very important to help develop his muscular3 strength.

Here are some suggestions to help you to place baby on his tummy:

  • Place your baby on his stomach for a few minutes after each diaper change. You can roll a small towel under his arm to raise him a little.
  • Walk your baby around the house, on your forearm and face down. Keep your arms close to your body;
  • Place your baby on his stomach and lie down in front of him. Your child is attracted to your face and voice. Being in front of him will encourage him to lift his head. Move from one side to the other to encourage him to turn his head.
  • Lie down skin-to-skin with your baby but be careful to always keep your hands on him to prevent falls. Since a newborn does not lift his head much, try vary the position of the head (left and right) to prevent it develops a preference;
  • Use a mirror to keep your baby interested during his belly time. Babies like to look at themselves;
  • Lay your baby on your lap while keeping one hand on his buttocks to prevent rolling. Alternate placing your baby's head on your right and left thighs.

What else can I do to support the movement and encourage my newborn to turn his head4?

  • When it's time for your baby to go to sleep, vary the direction of the crib;
  • If you have a mobile, place it in line with his chest or lower to promote the flexion of his neck;
  • When changing his diaper, vary the sides and the position where you stand;
  • Instead of holding your baby by the ankles when changing his diaper, raise his knee to his belly and hold this position with one hand while you change the layer with the other. This will stretch the back muscles of your back;
  • After the bath, place your baby on his tummy to get dry.

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