You know how as a new mom or dad you go down the list of things to worry about, and spend a day or two fixating on each thing before you realize your kid is really fine and there was no reason to stress?
- Sleeping through the night
- Bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding
- Is my kid eating enough? Bathing enough? Bathing too much and that’s why his skin is so dry?
- Is his room too warm or too cold?
… I could literally go on.
Well, here’s a worry that as a mother of a nearly four-month-old little boy I can’t seem to shake.. I worry my son is developing a flat spot on his head. I’ve noticed his head is beginning to look like it’s growing higher in the back, that’s the only way I can really explain it. I understand how silly this sounds to a lot of people because that seems to be everyone’s first reaction when I tell them my concern. When we were kids we slept on our bellies, so a flattening spot on our heads wasn’t ever a concern. It’s so out-of-mind that I’ve had to explain plagiocephaly or flat head syndrome to everyone I’ve told about it
— from my mom to my coworkers.
But things are different now. These days parents are told their babies must sleep on their back for safety and to prevent SIDS. This means new babies can spend around 17-20 hours each day on their backs, and some develop a flat spot or misshapen head. That’s why you see little babies wearing helmets, it’s to correct the shape of their head while it’s still forming.
Before I had my son I thought this only happened when a child was left on their back too often because they had a lazy parent, but now I feel terrible for assuming that. We hold our baby all the time. I’ve spent a lot of time researching online to see if there’s anything else I can be doing to prevent his head from flattening more. Tummy time helps, which my kid only puts up with for about two minutes before things escalate into screams. Holding him more often? Yep, already doing that. Alternating the way he’s laid down in his crib or bassinet? Yep, we’re doing that too.
If you’re like me, worried you’re not doing enough, maybe this will put you at ease. A study out of Canada found 47 percent of two-month-olds studied have flat spots or positional plagiocephaly on one side of their head, where it’s been resting on a flat surface like a mattress or swing. So it’s not just me, or you, there are A LOT of parents dealing with this.
The study directly attributes this to the fact that babies are back sleeping now, reducing the number of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) related deaths. It also notes that this ‘cosmetic flaw’ is not a good enough reason to let your infant sleep on his or her stomach.
I have to note, my son has not been diagnosed with plagiocephaly. I have just been watching it closely and I am concerned. When my husband and I agreed we were both worried about our little dude’s head appearing to grow higher, I ordered a pillow claiming to help. There are a bunch of different options on Amazon, so I ordered one with rave reviews from users claiming it has helped round out their baby’s head. That was enough for me to give it a try, it costs around $20. Our little Leo wears his tiny pillow on his changing table, in his car seat and when he plays on his back.
A helmet of course wouldn’t be the worst thing! It’s nice to know that option exists, and when we see our pediatrician in two weeks, we’ll hear his opinion on our little man’s head. In the meantime this tiny pillow gives me a little peace of mind.