If your doctor has informed you that your baby has positional plagiocephaly, you may be wondering what to do about it. The condition is caused by excess pressure on the skull due to the baby's daily positioning during sleep and play. While the condition isn't serious and almost always corrects itself with time, there are things you can do to speed up the process. Here are 3 natural ways to correct your baby's plagiocephaly without putting them in headgear, helmets, and bands at a young age.
Encourage More Tummy Time
Positional plagiocephaly is hardly surprising given that babies spend a lot of time lying down or sitting in baby seats. However, once their neck muscles are stronger and they're able to control their heads, babies don't need to be confined to their backs and sides as much. 'Tummy time' (play time where your baby lays on his or her tummy) is one of the best ways to encourage your baby's head to return to their normal shape.
For tummy time, all you need to do is place your baby tummy-down on a comfortable surface or over your lap and play with them as normal. You can also buy special play mats and floor gyms that encourage your baby to enjoy tummy time. You can begin tummy time when your baby is still a newborn for a few minutes a day, gradually increasing to up to 15 minutes for 2 to 3 times a day as your baby builds strength. The less time your baby spends playing on their back, the less flat their head will be. Remember that tummy time should only happen when your baby is awake; it's crucial that babies sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS.
Change Their Head Position
As back sleeping is the safest position for a baby, it can be more difficult to reduce head flattening during sleep than it is during play. However, there are some ways to encourage them to change their head position during sleep. When you put your baby to bed while they're still awake, they'll often stare at the most interesting thing they can see until they fall asleep. If your baby's mobile or crib light is on their right side, for example, they're more likely to fall asleep with their head facing to the right. Moving sleep entertainment to the opposite side of your baby's bed will encourage them to rest their head facing the opposite way. Alternatively, putting your baby to sleep at the opposite end on their bed to usual will have the same effect. Alternating your baby's head position regularly treats positional plagiocephaly by making sure that no one side of the head receives too much pressure.
See a Physiotherapist
While the above 2 suggestions will help many babies, some will struggle because they have difficulty turning or lifting their heads. In these children, this struggle may be the root cause of their positional plagiocephaly. If you find that your baby is very fussy during tummy time or turns their head the same way every night regardless of stimuli, you may benefit from taking them to see a physiotherapist with experience in paediatric treatment. A physiotherapist can help your little one with exercises that promote muscular strength and stability in the head and neck. They'll also show you exercises you can do with your baby at home every day to encourage the head to return to its normal shape.