How to Prevent Flat Head Syndrome

By Kaleigh MacDonald-Tremblay

October 20, 2019

I am a mom of two beautiful children, Adelia and Alister and two dogs Audrey Hepburn and Kevin Bacon. My husband and our children live in Hammonds Plains, NS and my Mama Coach Territory is Halifax.

It’s the day after you have given birth and it is time to take your baby home. Suddenly, you are faced with the endless list of worries you have about your newborn. Sometimes that feels very overwhelming. As a Mama Coach, I recognize that it is difficult for parents to navigate this new world of worry. Prior to giving birth, you may have heard about the risk of your infant developing a flat spot on their head. This is a real concern for some parents. Luckily, there are some preventative measures you can implement into your daily routine to avoid flat head syndrome. 

What is Flat Head Syndrome?

“Flat Head Syndrome” or “positional plagiocephaly” is defined by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons as “a condition in which specific areas of an infant’s head develop an abnormally flattened shape and appearance.”

Why does Flat Head Syndrome Occur?

Flat Head Syndrome develops because infants are born with very soft skulls Due to this the skull is more susceptible to forming flat spots from pressure. Flat Head Syndrome can happen if your infant is consistently placed in the same position for sleep and or are left for long periods of time in their car seat or swing. A small number of infants will have positional plagiocephaly at birth. This would be more common to see this in multiple births, or in premature births. In multiple births, it may be caused by one infant pressing up against another. Whereas in premature births, this may be because the skull is exceptionally soft. In more common cases flat heads usually develop quickly, over several months in a newborn. 

Repercussions of Flat Head Syndrome

 There are ways to correct a flat head, mild cases will resolve on their own. The more severe cases may not resolve on their own and require intervention from a medical professional. Although flat head syndrome may cause some disfiguring of the skull in most cases it will not affect brain development. The more severe, unresolved cases may cause difficulty chewing, eating or problems with vision. 

How Can it Be Prevented?

  • The Canadian Pediatric Society recommends that you place your infant on their back to sleep for the first 6 months. Therefore, changing positions in the crib will help. One day place your baby’s head towards the foot of the crib, the next day place your baby’s head towards the head of the crib. You may place your baby’s head towards the wall one night and in the opposite direction the next. Switching back and forth each day will help. 
  • Provide and encourage lots of tummy time for your baby while they are awake for 10-15 minutes, 3 times a day, daily. 
  • Provide your baby with lots of “cuddle time”. Hold your baby upright as much as possible avoiding pressure of the back and sides of the skull. 
  • Avoid too much time in car seats or swings.
  • Change positions from side to side during feeds.

Treatment

If you are concerned about a flat spot that will not resolve please consult your family doctor. Your doctor may recommend the use of a helmet or band therapy. The more severe cases may require surgery for correction.

 

As a Mama Coach, I am passionate about educating parents. If you are feeling overwhelmed or need a little support, reach out to a Mama Coach in your area. 

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