Because an infant's skull is flexible, he/she runs the risk of flattening his/her skull when against any surface. Doctors recommend alternating positions of the infant to evenly distribute the pressure of gravity on the growing skull. When parents observe flattening on the head, they should encourage a position where the flat spot is not touching. Supervised tummy time during the day is also important. A child should spend half of his/her waking time on his/her stomach.
Examples of ways to avoid flattening of the skull can be found below:
- When you place your baby in his/her crib to sleep, put your baby's head towards one end of the crib one night and the opposite end of the crib the next night. This helps to vary the baby's head position, especially if he/she prefers to look at something in particular in the room.
- When changing diapers, place the baby's head on the left side of the changing table sometimes, and on the right side other times.
- Use toys to encourage your baby to look side-to-side, especially in the stroller, swing, etc. Alternate sides where the toys are placed for prevention, or keep the toys on the opposite side, if flattening already exists.
- During the day, allow your baby to play on his/her tummy while supervised. Tummy time is not always baby's favorite position, but start with a short time (try a minute), and increase time slowly as baby tolerates it. Tummy time is beneficial for increasing strength and head control.
For Torticollis (a tight neck muscle):
- Sit and play with your baby on the side in which neck rotation is more limited.
- Carry your baby in the arm or on the hip that would encourage your baby to look in the direction that is less preferred.
- If your doctor or physical therapist has recommended neck stretches, perform these every time you change your baby's diaper. This routine helps to remember these stretches and ensures they are performed enough times per day.
Repositioning is considered conservative treatment of cranial asymmetry for a child less than 6 months old. If repositioning does not improve the shape of the child's head after 3-4 months, a doctor may recommend a cranial helmet.
Contact Cook Children's Home Health
If you or your office would like to meet with a representative, please contact your local physician liaison.
Referrals may be made 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. After hours, an answering service will connect referring physicians or clinicians to the on-call nurse