Experts recommend letting babies sleep on their backs as the safest against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). One drawback to this sleep position, however, is when babies develop a flat head syndrome or plagiocephaly. How bad is flat head in babies?
Flat head syndrome happens when a newborn, who still has soft skull bones, lies down on his back for a longer time that his head does not get properly molded. Aside from the sleep position, flat head syndrome also happens when a baby's head remains flat on car seats, strollers and carriers. Some babies, however, develop flat head syndrome even before birth, especially among multiple pregnancies as babies are cramped in the womb, as per Kids Health.
Concerns from parents are understandable because of how plagiocephaly looks on their child. This is more of an aesthetics or cosmetics issue rather than a serious brain development problem. Some extreme cases, however, might bring up health concerns, as per Daily Record.
"Plagiocephaly can cause ophthalmological troubles," a pediatrician, Dr. Maidenberg, told the news outlet. "Babies may develop jaw problems and have a higher risk of developing glue ear."
Babies with flat head syndrome might be made to wear a specialized helmet to ensure the head's asymmetric formation. In extreme cases, a baby might need to undergo craniosynostosis to fuse the skull via a cranial suture. Parents, however, can avoid these invasive solutions by doing easy preventive measures.
Parents can alternate the baby's sleep position, especially in the first few months. Let the baby sleep on her stomach from an hour, provided moms and dads keep a watchful eye against suffocation.
Parents can also vary the baby's position while carrying her to the side or by their tummy. Parents can also lay the baby on their lap for a few minutes of strokes and back massages, as per Murdoch's Children Research Institute. Don't do this when the baby has had a full meal, though.
To encourage the movement of the head, hover brightly colored toys above the baby during playtime. This lets them shift their head as well as encourage eye movement coordination. Learn more solutions to avoid flat head syndrome in babies in the video below.