A newborn baby is simply adorable with her sparkling eyes, shiny nose, cute mouth, and red cheeks. You could just spend hours staring at this marvel. Every part of the body is so adorably perfect. Wait! What about the head? Is it round or flat? A flat head is common in newborns. But, why do babies have flat heads in the first place? Let’s understand that.
Why Do Babies Develop Flat Spots On Their Heads?
Most babies delivered through vagina have an odd shaped head due to the pressure applied as they pass through the birth canal. The pressure applied to the head creates flat spots as it is soft and flexible (1). The neck muscles of babies post birth are weak. Most babies spend time sleeping on their backs and tilt their heads to one side. There is a soft area on the top center of the head where the two skull bones are not fused together, yet. This results in the flattening of the baby’s skull, known as Positional Plagiocephaly (2). In rare cases, Positional Plagiocephaly occurs when the space in the uterus is constricted, when the mother is carrying twins or triplets, or in breech babies (3).
However, you can prevent this condition by taking the following measures:
- Change head position: Change the position of your baby’s head every one hour, so that he turns his head to look at different objects in different positions. This reduces the pressure on the head (4).
- Different sleeping locations: Alternate your baby’s sleep between crib or bassinet instead of letting him sleep at a single location all the time. This helps the baby look in various directions, which prevents the flattening of the head (5).
- Firm, flat surface: Use a firm bed or crib for the baby to sleep on .
- Rest your baby on you: Once in a while during the day, let your baby rest on your chest so that the baby’s weight is off the head.
- Tummy time: Let him lie on his tummy on a surface that is firm for at least 10-15 minutes, three times in a day. It not only prevents flat head, but it also helps in strengthening muscles and overall physical development of your baby. Remember, to keep an eye on your baby while he is on his tummy (6).
- Hold your baby: Carry him more often when he is awake. Limit the time your baby spends in car seats and bouncy chairs, as it exerts pressure on the back of the head.
- Switch sides during feeds: If you are breastfeeding, you will anyways switch sides. But if your baby is on formula, make sure you switch the sides during feeds.
A baby’s skull becomes less soft and flexible as he grows (7). So, if you do want to take corrective steps to fix the issue, it’s advisable to get it done when the baby is younger.
A slightly flat head will even out by itself eventually, but a severe flattening may not get right completely. However, this will not affect the brain or development of the baby. So just enjoy the growing years of your baby.
Have any more tips to share with us? Do let us know by commenting below.