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So one day I noticed that the back of my baby’s head started to seem a little flat. Like a damn pancake!! What was going on?!? I never had this issue with my first daughter. I started to look into multiple methods on resolving the issue before it would become worse.
I obsessed on it, asking everyone I came in contact with about their thoughts on my baby’s head shape.
The condition is called Flat Head Syndrome or the technical term deformational plagiocephaly. The experts say that it should correct itself, but it didn’t for me and I wasn’t going to just sit back and take that chance.
Her head was so flat it was embarrassing to take her anywhere because I felt like such a horrible neglectful mother. My first had no issues with flat head. She slept in a bassinet, then her Boppy, then her crib. I don’t know if it was the soft Boppy that helped it from happening or what…. but I didn’t have to deal with this before.
Turns out I found the main reason for the flat head. My daughter slept in her Rock N’ Play because of her intense GER and eventually later we found out, dairy intolerance. So that actually caused her flat head. YES! If you are letting your baby sleep in the Rock N’ Play that could be most likely the culprit for your baby’s flat head.
It was hard because even knowing about the head issue, her GER, colic, and tummy issues were so bad she had to continue to sleep in the Rock N’ Play.
I actually went in to the doctor and had her checked for a helmet, but my insurance would not approve it so it was either pay $3000 out of pocket or not get the helmet. I ended up going to another place that my insurance didn’t refer me to. They paid for the consult but not the helmet at the original place.
I then went to a place that was a leader in baby helmets, that is all they did. I did the free consult, and the lady that did it told me, honestly, that if it was her child she wouldn’t spend the $3000 out of pocket. She said my daughter wasn’t that bad compared to what she sees on a daily.
My fiance and I discussed it and ended up not going ahead with paying out of pocket for the helmet. Not that we could afford it anyways, but I would have figured it out somehow if I absolutely had to.
Some of the methods I came across and tried:
1. Lot’s of tummy time.
The problem with this was my daughter was past the point of tummy time and was an early mover, pulling herself up and walking around things by 7 months, and walking on her own by 9. If your child is still young enough to do tummy time, try to do this as much as possible (even though they usually hate it).
2. Vary positions in the crib.
When you lie them in the crib at night, try to switch them around. A lot of times they favor one side of the head as well. This is exactly what my daughter did. Whenever I saw her lying on the right, I would slowly and quietly move her head to the left. Only after she was in a deep sleep of course. Yikes!
3. Carry them around.
This was hard considering my daughter hated being baby worn (or however you say it). I even went to the Babywearing International meetings to try and get one she didn’t completely hate. Nope. She wanted to be carried in my arms or nothing. If your baby does like it though, this is a great way to help.
4. Get them involved using both sides of their body.
They are favoring one side most likely, so set up activities that require them to be more involved with both sides of their body; using both arms and both legs. Encourage them to use the hand that isn’t dominant more often. When they reach for a toy with their right, coerce them into using their left, or vise versa.
5. Have your baby turn their head to the opposite side.
If they have a flat spot on the left side of their head, encourage them to look to the right. Use toys to entice them to look in that direction, or face them so they have to look to the right when you interact. Then vise versa if the spot is on the right.
6. Change positions when feeding.
Encourage your baby to feed in a variety of positions when feeding. It doesn’t matter if bottle feeding or nursing, try to change sides and positions in order to stretch the neck muscles.
7. Baby head pillows.
These little round pillows that you put in anywhere that they sleep. This is what eventually worked the best for me. I did everything but this helped release the pressure on the side and back of her head. Never once did my daughter roll out of it or have any safety hazard concern, but I would definitely wait until they can hold their head up on their own.
The exact pillow that I bought was below. This was a lifesaver!!
There is also something called Congential Muscular Torticollis. If you notice any of these in your baby talk to your pediatrician.
- Baby prefers to turn their head to one side over the other side.
- Does your baby’s head seem to be tilted to one side when you look at pictures of them.
- The big one, there’s a flat spot or flattening on the back of baby’s head.
- Baby prefers to nurse on one side over the other. (Some baby’s do this anyways but with the other symptoms above it may be linked)
If the above sound familiar then your flat spot could be from Torticollis. Torticollis is the shortening of the sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle, which is located on each side of the neck. No one knows exactly why it happens, but there are easy exercises that can help your baby loosen it up.
All in all we corrected it for the most part on our own, and now her head is a little lumpy but no longer flat like it was. There is a big improvement, and with her hair, you can’t even tell. I know she is a girl, but my daughter was bald most of babyhood, so her hair is pretty short even now. Even with “boy” length hair it’s not noticeable.
There is hope. If you think you need a helmet and have tried everything you can think of make an appointment with an orthotist, usually by getting a referral from your child’s pediatrician.
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Are you struggling with any head issues with your baby? Let me know.