Tips to Keep your Baby’s Head from Developing a Flat Spot (Positional Plagiocephaly)

When my first son was born, I was such a hot mess! I worried to death about every little thing and I did a ton of research on every little question that popped up. Yes, I was one of “those”. I’m sure if I could retrieve my google search history from that time it would crack me up! There were some things that I didn’t think of though. One of them was flat spot or more officially known as Positional Plagiocephaly. Positional Plagiocephaly is when baby’s head loses its round shape and develops one or more “flat” spots usually from sleeping or laying in the same positions for too long.

By the time my son was 4 or 5 months old, I could see that his head was indeed very flat in the back! I didn’t want him to have to wear one of those baby helmets and I was so worried that it meant I had done things wrong for him. So, I did a ton of research and I tried a bunch of things that I condensed here for you in this guide: “Tips to Keep Your Baby’s Head from Developing a Flat Spot”.  I know for us, these tips worked like a charm and I hope they do for you too!

flat spot, plagiocephaly

So here it goes:

1.     Most of us already know that babies are born with pretty soft heads.  Was your baby born with a cone head or have you ever seen a baby that was? Then you probably noticed that it probably rounded out just fine. That’s the good news. Baby’s heads stay pretty “moldable” for a good while. So don’t panic like I did. You can probably fix it (or prevent it all together!).  If your baby has a flat spot already try to be patient and realize that results will happen over time and not instantly. I swear, I was so bothered by that flat spot – I was watching it by the minute! Try not to be like me.

2.     As far as I know, it is still recommended that babies sleep on their backs. Having said that, they don’t always have to sleep in the exact same thing. Avoid extensive hours of sleep in any one device. Switch it up and rotate from your rock n’ play, to an infant cradle or swing, etc. You’ll also want to avoid letting your baby sleep in their carseat when you’re not actually driving. Better yet, try baby wearing. There are a ton of great wraps out there and if baby is sleeping against you, it reduces pressure on the back of the head. Bonus: extra baby cuddle time. Score!

3.     Keep baby on their back but change the direction in which they sleep. A crib is mostly commonly faced with one side facing a wall and one side facing out towards the room that it’s in. Baby is naturally inclined to face out towards the room. Try placing baby’s head at a different end of the crib every other night. One night his/her head should be at the left hand end of the crib and the next it should be at the right end of the crib and you continue alternating. It will encourage  baby to switch the direction that he/she turns her head when sleeping. This keeps baby from always putting pressure behind one same side of the head all the time.

4.     Encourage tummy time early on. With my first baby, this was really, really hard. He absolutely hated tummy time! If your baby hates tummy too, start small. Even just a couple minutes here and there and increase over time. You can try to offer “tummy time toys” that baby only gets during tummy time so he/she has something to look forward to at that time.  I liked to use a Boppy to prop him up a little and I tried to keep him entertained but it was challenging at times. Don’t give up because this is how baby develops shoulder and neck muscle strength.

5.     Invest in a Boppy Noggin Nest Head Support from day one.  I did all of the above mentioned tips and I used a Noggin Nest from day one with my second and he never had a flat spot at all. A  Noggin Nest is sort of like a little donut pillow for the back of baby’s head attached to a mat that they lay on to hold it in place. Basically, it prevents baby’s head from being totally flat against whatever they’re lying in. I kept one in my house and used it during the day whenever baby was in his swing or rock n play. I also kept one in the car and used it whenever he was in his car seat. Consistency is the key! We loved this product and it made a huge difference.

6.     Can your baby sit up yet? Once your baby can sit up, encourage him/her to do so! My babies could both sit up around 5 or 6 months but they were both sort of super lazy about it. If that’s the case with your baby, try propping them up on a Boppy or let them spend time in a bouncer or walker that they enjoy. It encourages them to strengthen the muscles that hold they’re head and trunk upright but it also keeps them from just staying on the back of their head all day. Preventing flat spot is all about movement, variation, and consistency.

 

Remember mamas, it takes time. I didn’t see results for several weeks but when I did I was so glad that it all paid off. Even his pediatrician was impressed at how “nice and round” his head got and he never wore one of those helmets. Phew! Hope these tips work for you too and if you liked this piece don’t forget to pin me.

 

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