fbpx

Tag: head shape

Fixing a Flat (baby head): What is Plagiocephaly and what can I do to correct it?

What is Plagiocephaly (pronounced play-jee-oh-sef-uh-lee)?

Sometimes infants are born with or develop plagiocephaly or brachycephaly, a flat spot on the back or backside of their heads that is noticeable and may raise questions or be a cause of concern. 

Understandably, you may ask:

  • Will my baby’s head shape stay like this?  
  • Is there anything I can do to prevent or fix this?  
  • Will this affect my baby’s brain growth or development?

In the early 90’s the American Academy of Pediatrics advised parents to put babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS.  This increased the time spent with increased pressure on the baby’s head from the surfaces they rested on. This also increased the incidence of plagiocephaly (a.k.a. “flat head syndrome”).  In addition, there are dozens of baby positioning “containers” such as infant car seats, swings, and bouncy chairs that keep babies resting for longer periods on the back of their heads. Flat spots can make it challenging for babies to keep their heads in midline and they can develop a preference to turn or face toward a particular side.  These babies may be resistant to or even refuse tummy time because lifting their little heads up against gravity can seem difficult and stressful. Although this will not typically cause problems with brain development, babies that have a flat spot may experience movement preferences to one side, may not latch on for nursing as well as expected, will experience reflux or digestive issues, and may be extra fussy, colicky or more difficult to calm.  

How can I tell if my baby has a flat spot?

No two babies have the same head shape but asymmetries or flat spots are usually easy to detect if you know what to look for. Most areas will round or even out as a baby moves her head side to side, up and down, and begins to roll over in the first few months.  Take a look at the baby’s head in several positions. If Baby has a lot of hair it is good to do this while the hair is wet, such as after a bath.  

  • Look at your baby “face to face.”  Are both eyes the same size or is one wider or narrower than the other? Is one cheek puffier than the other? Does the back of his head appear unusually wide or does the head slant sharply upward from his forehead to the back of the head? Do you notice that one ear is higher or in front of the ear on the other side?  
  • Look at the baby’s head shape from behind while supporting him in sitting.  This is often the first place a flat spot is detected. Are the ears level? Does the head tilt to one side? Is the top of the head very wide compared to the area just above the neck?  
  • Now, look at the baby’s head from the top.  Is one side of the forehead more forward than the other? Can you see one cheek puffing out more than the other? Is one ear significantly positioned in front of the other?  
  • Finally, look at the baby’s head from the side.  Is there a slope from the forehead that rises to a point in the back?   

Notice if your baby’s head is moving freely with his body or is the head “planted” on the surface?  Is he beginning to lift his shoulders and arms off of the surface and is the baby beginning to bring hands or toys to his mouth?  Does the baby constantly only put one hand in his mouth or does he turn his head to mouth a toy instead of bringing the toy toward his middle.  When Baby is on his belly, can he lift his head easily up in the middle or does he usually turn it fully to one side or the other to lift it up.  These are all signs that there may indicate a muscle imbalance or be present as a result of the flat spot on a baby’s head. While none of these seem particularly alarming, they can keep your baby from developing movement and visual motor patterns that will advance him more naturally toward rolling, crawling, walking and gross motor play.

What Can I do if I notice a flat spot?

  • Provide lots of opportunities for Tummy time.  
  • Limit time in baby carriers, car seats, bouncers, swings, and containers
  • Carry baby when you can but change positions often to keep hips healthy
  • Alternate the ends of the crib for sleeping so baby will face stimulating sights or light during waking times
  • Provide visual stimulation in front of the baby that moves side to side 
  • Consult your pediatrician or a pediatric physical therapist if a flat spot persists for more than a few weeks.  A baby’s head shape can change quickly from birth to 6 months.  

What if the flat spot won’t go away?

If your baby’s head is held unusually still, he has a distinct head-side or position preference, he is having difficulty nursing, bottle feeding is stressful, or he is resisting positions like tummy time contact your pediatrician or a pediatric physical therapist who specializes in treating infants.  It is best not to take a “wait and see” approach because most of a baby’s head growth happens between birth and 6-8 months and this is the best time to make big changes in head shape and mobility.  Most consultations are free and professionals can offer advice and solutions that can help you and your baby.  

BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy offers free screenings and consultations through Telehealth or at one of our child-friendly therapy gyms in Orland Park and Aurora, IL

Written by Sheri Ireland-Berk, PT
Physical Therapist

 

Physical Therapy

Pediatric Physical Therapy

  • Serial Casting

Questions about Physical Therapy? 

[receiver]

708-478-1820

[calendar]

Schedule a screening

BDI Pediatric Physical Therapy

Pediatric physical therapy is for more than just injury rehab or treatment of a diagnosed motor condition. Many children need short term Physical Therapy to address minor challenges or concerns noted by parents. A diagnosis is not required or necessary.

Casting for Pediatric Orthotics

Physical Therapy can help with

  • Infant head shape: flat spots or other differences
  • Bladder and Bowel Training
  • Gross motor development
  • Milestones related to walking, sitting, crawling
  • Sports Performance
  • Scoliosis Intervention
  • Bike Riding
  • Difficulties in Gym and Physical Education Class
  • Muscle strengthening
  • Posture / postural control
  • Pre-gait and gait training
  • Neuromuscular function
  • Environmental adaptations / seating and positioning
  • Splinting / bracing / orthotics
  • Improving endurance
  • Coordination of movements
  • Balance training
  • Family education

If your child does have a diagnosed condition

If your child does have a diagnosed condition, you can feel confident in our collaborative team approach that brings multiple specialties together to address the whole picture and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.  Our therapists have a high commitment to continuing education and stay in tune with the latest research-proven methods for the treatment of:

  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Spina Bifida
  • Down Syndrome
  • Sports injuries
  • Scoliosis
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Torticollis
  • Brachial Plexus injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Decreased coordination
  • Incontinence
  • Various other motor conditions

Reflex

Physical therapists assist children in reaching their fullest potential in functional independence and fitness.

Innovative programs are aimed at:

  • Enhancing strength, coordination and balance
  • Physical fitness
  • Wellness for optimal quality of life

If you have questions or concerns, a free screening or consultation with a Pediatric PT is a GREAT place to start. Our therapists work with children with or without a diagnosis. A prescription is not required for evaluation.

Schedule a screening



https://totalmotionrelease.com/tmrhome
https://www.bedwettingandaccidents.com/find-a-provider

A-Z of our PT Services

A

Adaptive Sports

Aquatic Therapy

B

Balance

Ball Skills

Bike Riding

Bilateral Coordination

Biofeedback

Bowel and Bladder Dysfunction

C

Coordination 

D

Developmental Screening

Dynamic Serial Casting

E

Early Intervention

Environmental Adaptations

F

Family Education

G

Gait Training

Gross Motor Skills

H

Health Promotion

Head Shape

Home Exercise Program

I

Incontinence Training

Infant Massage

Intensive therapy

K

Kinesiology Taping

M

Motor Learning

Myofascial Release

N

Neurodevelopmental Therapy (NDT)

O

Orthotic Assessment and Training

P

Pelvic Floor Education

Positioning to assist with feeding

Postural Awareness and Training

Prosthetic Training

R

Reflex Integration

S

Scoliosis

Schroth Therapy

Serial Casting

Sports Injury Recovery

Strengthening

T

Toe Walking

Total Motion Release (TMR)

Torticollis

V

Visual Motor

W

Wheelchair Assessments

We are proud to collaborate with


Great Feedback from Great Families

My son Jayden is 11 and has been coming to BDI for the past 4 years. BDI has become family in the way they treat my son. I truly feel deep in my heart if it wasn’t for his PT my son wouldn’t be walking the way he is today. BDI hires only the BEST. Every child here is treated with respect and love and each parent is respected and appreciated for their role in their child’s treatment plan.”

Getting Started With Physical Therapy

Find answers here

Still not sure? Learn more about whether your child needs therapy here

Continue reading