Discovering that your baby has a flat head can be a shocking moment, and you’ll have a dozen questions. You might wonder if it’s possible to fix a flat head without a helmet time. Not to mention, it’s normal to feel a bit guilty, even though this isn’t your fault!
At some point during your multiple well-child check-ups, your pediatrician might notice that your baby has developed a flat head. Flathead syndrome is not uncommon in babies, especially when they sleep with their heads to the same side for several months.
You aren’t alone in this struggle!
While some babies require a helmet to correct the problem, that doesn’t mean your child will need one. Before you jump to this course of action, think about correcting a flat head without a helmet – it can be done!
What Causes a Flat Head
Before you can try correcting the problem, you do need to understand what causes flat head syndrome in babies.
In most cases, this problem is caused by your baby’s sleeping position. Babies need to sleep on their backs, and they sleep for many hours a day. So, they spend a lot of time with their head resting against a mattress or wherever they’re sleeping.
It’s not just sleeping! Babies spend time infant car seats, strollers, swings, bouncy seats, and more. When you add it all up, it’s easy to see how this can happen.
Flathead syndrome is also more common in premature babies because their skulls are softer than full-term babies. Spending time in the beds at the NICU contribute to this as well.
Tight neck muscles can make it hard for babies to turn their heads. This can be a neck condition called torticollis. Since it’s hard for babies to turn their heads, it means that your baby will hold his head in the same position for an extended period when lying down. That leads to more flattening.
How to Fix Baby’s Flat Head Without a Helmet
A helmet is not always a requirement. Often, a few simple changes can make a massive difference in the flatness. Here are some tips to try.
Try Plenty of Tummy Time
If you don’t already, give your baby plenty of tummy time, which is when your baby spends on his stomach while awake during the day. Not only does tummy time help to strengthen your child’s neck and arm muscles, but tummy time also supports the normal shaping of the back of your baby’s head.
This is commonly recommended as a plagiocephaly treatment without a helmet. Some doctors believe that simple repositioning techniques can be as effective as a helmet, so give it a shot.
Vary Positions in the Crib
Think about it; chances are you lay your baby down in the crib in the same position because you cradle your baby in the same arms.
For example, if you’re right-handed, you more than likely cradle your child in your left arm and then lay him down with his head to the left.
When you’re conscious about your habits, you can start to vary your baby’s position. Alternating sides can reduce the risk of flattening.
Whenever you can, adjust how your baby is lying or being head to be sure he isn’t always resting on the flat side. That means changing breastfeeding positions, how you hold him, and bottle feeding positions. When you’re doing tummy time, have your baby look in both directions.
Hold Your Baby More
It’s tempting to have your baby spend time in a stroller, swing, bouncy seat, or anything else that gives you your hands-free. While it’s tempting to do that, you need to hold your baby more often or try using a baby carrier.
Something else that you can try is moving your baby out of a car seat or swing once he falls asleep. Those are not safe for sleeping unsupervised, so try moving your baby to a crib or sometimes holding your baby for a nap!
Try a Pillow
You should know that wedge pillows aren’t safe for unsupervised sleep, but if you can watch your baby while he takes a nap, using a pillow can help change your baby’s position to create a rounded head instead of a flattened one. Here’re some of the best pillows for the flat head syndrome.
Using a pillow with a hole in the middle can be a brachycephaly treatment without a helmet because brachycephaly is the flattening of the back of the head. You might be surprised by the number of options available!
Your Baby Might Need Physical Therapy
Some babies with flathead syndrome need physical therapy. It’s often a precursor for using a helmet. You can use physical therapy and home exercises to try that stretch the neck muscles to the opposite side. Over time, with these therapies, the muscles get longer, helping your baby move his head each direction.
Your child may need a helmet to fix his flat head, but many parents find that the syndrome can be solved with a variety of other techniques. Changing your baby’s position and taking pressure off of that spot is key to making a difference!
Hey, this is Linda. My biggest accomplishment in life is being a mother of four children. Their current ages range from almost ten years old down to 20 months old.
I’m passionate about writing parenting articles because I understand so well all of the problems and trials you face as a parent. From breastfeeding woes to budgeting problems and behavior problems, along with everything in between, chances are I’ve faced it over the last ten years. Read more about Linda here.