T.D. asks from Randolph, MA on September 06, 2008
Getting a Flat Head from Sleeping on His Back
My 4 month old son sleeps on his back (as recommended) and is still being swaddled happily. The problem is, the back of his head is getting really flat. We do a little tummy time during the day, I hold him pretty often or have him in a bjorn, and I lie him on his side when we snuggle in my bed, but the 10 - 12 hours at night in the crib far outweighs any of that time. I called his pediatrician about it but he said not to worry. That it's common these days but he finds they outgrow it as they begin sitting and moving more. I don't feel totally comfortable with that answer though, and I'm getting mixed opinions from other people who think he should sleep with a wedge propping him up on his sides. My pediatrician says it's unnecessary. Anyone else have experience with this issue?
C.D. answers from Providence on September 07, 2008
T., you do have to keep an eye on this. I see a lot of responses saying that it will resolve itself but that is not always the case. If there is concern at 4 months the proper thing to do is try repositioning. If at 6-7 months things have not improved (especially if the flatness in back is so severe that it causes a widening at the temples) please consider getting him a helmet. No, they're not pretty but they certainly help fix plagiocephaly and are well worth the effort for a perfect noggin!
M.F. answers from Bangor on September 07, 2008
Hi T., I had this concern too with my three children. The approach I took was to every night change which end of his crib was the "head". Very often, babies will automatically roll to the same side every time. If you switch which end of the bed is the head, they will still roll the same way, but it will actually be the opposite side because they are laying in a different direction. I have three kids with nice round heads...good luck! M.
M.W. answers from Boston on September 07, 2008
I had my daughter sleeping on her side for the first 3-4 months and switching sides for naps and when she went down at night. This way she was equally sleeping on each side so her head did not get flat.
S.S. answers from New London on September 06, 2008
I agree that you shouldn't worry too much. I thought my daughters head was getting a little flat but she started moving around at night and eventually started sleeping with at least her head to one side of the other so she wasn't sleeping all night in the same position. And once your son starts rolling over, you don't need to worry about making sure he sleeps on his back. If he is already rolling over, I wouldn't keep him swaddled because that will force him to stay on his back and he won't get the chance to give the back of his head a rest. At 4 months, he's probably starting to show signs of rolling over if he's not already doing it. So don't worry, it should fix itself!!
A.W. answers from Boston on September 07, 2008
Not sure if he likes to lie on his side but that's what I would do since he is getting older. Switch off each night. It drives me nuts because the Dr.'s have us so worried about SIDS that we tend to pay attention and forget that our babies can suffer from long term affects. I have seen children with those helmets to fix stuff like that. I know my son is almost 6 and his head is flatter on on-side than the other and when his hair is really short I notice it. It does bother me because I wish I made him move his head but that is the way he slept. Anything to keep him upright and not laying down will help, that's if he is ready for the "jumpa-roo" or exesauser, etc.
M.B. answers from Hartford on September 07, 2008
Okay, I have a 10 month old who's head is flat in the back. He is currently being treated at Cranial Tech in Clinton CT with a Doc Band to make it round again. They suggested repositioning him when he was younger in the crib so he's looking a different way before we went this route. I've heard that you can put fun toys to get him to turn his head and anything that would turn his head to a different side because they do start to favor one side. Also when you are holding him try switching the way you hold him. They told me once he starts rolling that would help round out his head. None of that worked now. Once he's sitting up though all the repositioning isn't going to work because you won't be able to get him to stay in the new position.
Let me explain the DOC band to you now. Our son will have to be in it for 12-14 weeks. He wears it 23 hours a day. We drive down to Clinton every 2 weeks to get it resized. They'll do it more often if you get it on at a younger age though. They do a free consultation so you can see if he would need a band or not. You can check out their website to get more info about it at www.cranialtech.com. It has been very helpful for us. He's been in it since the end of July and we already notice a difference. I almost wish we had seen them sooner. Good luck.
C.K. answers from Boston on September 08, 2008
Both of my son's had the same problem. When my oldest son began to show signs of this the pediatrician said not to worry just like the other responses however it did not correct itself and he has a flat spot on the back of his head. Poor kid hope he never asks me to get a whiffle. I changed pediatricians for my second son and what a difference. My younger son started to show signs and they recommended early intervention. They said helmets are mostly used when the flattening starts to shift the features like the eyes and ears. Look for symetry. The early intervention specialist gave me great tips to work with my son who hated traditional tummy time. lay baby on stomach with arms over a boppy which helps neck development and provides time off the back of the head, and the baby does not get as mad with his/her face in the floor. Doing airplanes with your arms or baby lying on your legs. Carry baby face out rather than snuggled in your arms. If you bottle feed make sure you switch which hand you use. This was a big one. My husband and I are both right handed so we were both holding him the same way putting pressure on the same spot every time he ate. An when you put your baby in the crib alternate every night which end you put his head. He will want to look out when he is awake so switching sides usually works to make him look a different way which is also true for changing the diaper if you use a changing table. Hope it helps. Have to say my second son's head looks much better than my oldest.
D.H. answers from Boston on September 07, 2008
My daughter had the same issue--she is 5 months and her head is starting to reshape "normally" as she is able to spend more awake time on her belly or other positions (she is starting to sit and likes spending time in an exersaucer). When I talked to her pediatrician during the 4 month checkup, she said that since she had good neck control, not to worry. Is he able to support his neck & turn his head in both directions? Someone I know has a child who needs a helmet because of the flatness, but he didn't have good neck control and could only turn his head in one direction. I hope this helps.
M.P. answers from Boston on September 07, 2008
My daughter was born with a football shaped head due to being wedged under my rib for over 10 weeks. The docs were concerned about her head becoming flat so they had us go to NOPCO at Boston Childrens hospital. They fit her for a head cup positioner which she slept in for about 2 months. She did not mind, did not even notice. I think it was like $150 bucks, insurance did not cover it 2 yrs ago because it was new. But it worked like a charm and we avoided having to do a helmet later. She has the most perfectly shaped head and she is 2. Hope this helps.
D.B. answers from Boston on September 07, 2008
but what the pedi says about them outgrowing the flat spot when they are more mobile is true. My youngest son had it till he started sitting up more. So they do outgrow it.
L.Z. answers from Boston on September 06, 2008
Hi T.! I had this problem with my oldest (she's now 3) because she was a great sleeper and was down for so long at night, not that that was a problem! But she was also slow to roll over and sit up, so I felt like she spent so much of her time on her back. I did the tummy time with her too, though she didn't like it! Anyway, the issue did resolve itself once she was a little older and started sitting up and staying awake for longer stretches. By the time she was 6-7 months, it was totally fine, and we joke now that her head is perfectly round! I did not use a wedge with her - my pediatrician also said what yours did, and I just trusted her and went with it. I was so overwhelmed being a first time mom and making sure she was sleeping on her back that I just wasn't ready to take anything else on at the time. I also asked a lot of other moms (like you're doing now!) and they all agreed that it would be okay when she was a little older. We have had no problems at all through the years. I hope this helps! Enjoy your baby - they grow WAY too fast!