Every new parent is plagued with questions regarding the well-being of their child. While the bigger questions about breastfeeding, sleep cycles and physical developmental milestones are of prime importance, you may miss out on small things. However, nothing is too small for your child’s development, and you have to keep an eye out for any differences that you notice in your baby.
Flathead Syndrome is also called Positional Plagiocephaly. A head shaping pillow is a solution to this problem. It is designed to keep your baby’s head and neck in proper alignment. Physicians and pediatricians recommend using a head shaping pillow to ensure their head has the proper support.
What is Flathead Syndrome?
First of all, it’s important to understand flathead syndrome. It’s a condition that can occur when babies spend too much time lying on their backs with their heads turned to the same side. This can cause the baby’s head to become flattened on one side.
Your baby’s skull is quite soft and pliable when born, which is why this can happen. In addition, constant pressure on one side of the head can cause that side to flatten out.
The flathead syndrome isn’t harmful to your baby, but it can cause cosmetic concerns. While it may not seem like a big deal, the flathead syndrome can cause your baby’s head to look asymmetrical and lead to problems with their vision and hearing.
How do I Identify Flathead syndrome?
Identifying if your baby has a flathead is important to take steps to prevent it from getting worse. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Your baby’s head has a noticeable flat spot on one side
- Your baby’s head looks lopsided or misshapen, with a slanted appearance
- Your baby tilts their head to one side more than the other
- Your baby’s ears appear to be misaligned
- Bald spots or less hair in a part of the head
One of the best times to check if your baby has a flathead is during bath time. Gently run your hand over your baby’s head and look for areas that feel different. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take action to prevent your baby’s flathead from getting worse.
What to do if my baby has a Flathead?
The first thing to do is talk to your doctor. They will be able to give you tips on how to prevent it from getting worse and can also refer you to a specialist if needed. Flathead syndrome is treatable, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you’re concerned about your child’s flathead. Prevention is key in the case of flathead syndrome. Read on for a few simple things you can do to help prevent your baby from developing a flathead.
The most common treatment for flathead syndrome is reducing pressure on the skull. For this, the most effective and easiest approach is tummy time. Tummy time involves placing a blanket or towel on the floor and while your baby is awake, put your baby on his stomach for a few minutes. This should ideally be done for at least 30 minutes every day.
Tummy time is helpful because as your baby bobs and weaves to try to lift his head, he’s developing stronger neck and shoulder muscles. He’s also giving the back of his head a break from the pressure of lying flat, which can prevent or help reverse plagiocephaly or flathead syndrome.
Take care that you never leave your baby unsupervised during tummy time. Even if your baby is not old enough to crawl away yet, you will want to keep a watch to make sure your baby doesn’t tire and bump their face on the floor.
Another treatment if your baby is developing signs of flathead on one side or the other is to switch positions while he sleeps. Move their head from one end of the crib to another on alternate rest periods. Your baby tends to naturally pivot their eyes towards the light or any movement in the room. As your baby does this, opposite sides of the head will get a break. Side sleeping and stomach sleeping are also good for preventing flathead syndrome.
Also, always support your baby’s head when carrying them or holding them upright. This will help prevent their head from falling forward and flattening out over.
What is a head shaping pillow?
It’s a U-shaped pillow that supports your baby’s head and helps to keep it round. A head shaping pillow works by providing support to your baby’s head and neck. It helps keep their head in the proper position so that it doesn’t flatten out over time. The pillow also helps keep the spine in alignment, which is important for preventing flathead syndrome.
A head shaping pillow is easy to use as well. Most companies that sell these pillows say that it is ‘one size fits all.’ You can adjust the size of the pillow with velcro to make sure it is a perfect fit for your baby’s head. You can simply place the pillow under your baby’s head when lying down, ensuring that their head is in the circular opening.
If needed, you should adjust the positioning so that your baby is comfortable. You can also use the pillow when your baby is sleeping in their car seat or stroller. Later on, when your baby grows out of the pillow, you can use it as a neck pillow for your baby as well.
Things to look for when buying a head shaping pillow?
When looking for a head shaping pillow, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure that the pillow is made from breathable material. Most pillows available nowadays for babies come with organic cotton and breathable materials. So, your baby does not develop rashes or experience any other harmful effects from using the pillow. Organic cotton is the best, as you don’t want your baby to get too hot while using the pillow.
Look for a pillow that is machine washable. This will make it easy to keep the pillow clean. Choose a pillow that is soft and comfortable. You want your baby to sleep comfortably while using the pillow.
Can my baby be put to sleep when using a head shaping pillow?
While head shaping pillows are recommended for usage while your baby is awake, it is not recommended that babies sleep with one. Instead, most medical practitioners recommend that your baby sleeps on their back on a flat and firm surface without any additional forms of bedding like duvets, quilts, blankets, wedges, bedding rolls, or pillows. Pillows, in this sense, includes baby head shaping pillows as well.
The primary reason for this advice stems from the fact that if a baby’s face ends up pressed against any such object of additional bedding, they will not be able to lift themselves, increasing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In addition, there is an increased risk of suffocation as your baby grows older and begins to turn around during sleep. This is why pediatricians do not recommend padded cribs or even heavy blankets for your baby.
From what age can I use a head shaping pillow?
Many health professionals do not recommend pillows for newborn babies. The earliest that your baby should begin using the pillow is around 12 months of age, during sleep. This is mainly owing to the risk of suffocation. This is the same as keeping stuffed toys or quilts close to your baby when sleeping. However, while the baby is awake, you can use the pillow with supervision, even when they are newborn babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pillows only by the age of two.
If you notice a flattened head and your baby is not old enough to use a pillow, you can use the head shaping pillow when the baby is awake. Most parents have noticed that the most crucial stage to use a head shaping pillow is during the first few months since birth. This is when the baby is lying on its back most of the time. Its motor skills have not developed enough to start turning over to lie on its belly.
You can prevent flattening of the head in the early stages of the baby’s life by holding your baby during feeding time and carrying them in your arms during short trips outdoors, instead of using a pram or carrycot. Tummy time becomes helpful when your baby is about 3-4 months old. It teaches the baby to hold its head better. Babies who have had tummy time also tend to prop themselves up sooner.
How does a head shaping pillow work?
Head shaping pillows are named so because of their obvious use- keeping the baby’s head supported and in the right shape. A head shaping pillow helps position the baby’s head in the right way. It is shaped like a horseshoe.
Head shaping pillows also ensure adequate blood supply to the brain. This means that the brain cells and neurotransmitters develop properly, with proper blood supply. A proper head shaping pillow makes your baby more comfortable while lying down.
Is a head shaping pillow a mere marketing gimmick?
Although many people like to call it a marketing gimmick, a head shaping pillow can be your friend in need. A good head shaping pillow, designed keeping its purpose in mind, will help correct your baby’s flathead syndrome. Your baby’s head does not miraculously transform overnight, but a head shaping pillow slowly brings about the right shift to the bones in the skull.
Contrary to popular belief, tummy time alone is not enough to change your baby’s flathead. Yes, it is essential to prevent flat spots, but it is not the only option. The right products can assist parents in creating the right surrounding for their child’s development. You need to make sure that you are choosing the right pillow. A pillow with an ergonomic design made of organic cotton would be ideal.
However, In parts of India, a pillow made of mustard seeds is common in households with newborn babies. These pillows also help avoid sweating in harsh weather conditions, owing to the material they are made of. Buying traditional products like the mustard seed pillow may not work well for all babies. These pillows could be hefty, and the seeds could move around, making the pillow misshapen. When this happens, the purpose of using a head shaping pillow is lost.
Remember that head shaping pillows are not miraculous cures; they only assist in proper alignment. If your baby has flat spots, it would be best to make sure they sleep in different positions. You can also alternate their feeding positions. Until your baby is old enough to use a head shaping pillow while sleeping, try to use it while the baby is awake, and reduce the time the baby sleeps in a single position. If your baby is too young for a pillow, use it only when the baby is supervised to avoid any mishaps.