|My friend has a four month old baby who has a head which is
really flat at the back. My friend does not seem at all concerned
about it, but I don’t want my newborn to look like that.
Now that we are told that baby must sleep on her back, how
do we avoid the flat head forming?
Some babies are more prone to get flat heads than others,
and as you correctly point out, this is a phenomenon that
has become prevalent since the discovery that babies who
sleep on their backs are less prone to die of Sudden Infant
Death Syndrome (SIDS). The flattening is not permanent and
can be reduced by adopting a few simple steps. In fact,
by the time your baby is six months old and is active and
has a strong neck, the head flattening should disappear
on its own.
When your baby is awake make sure that she spends plenty
of time on her tummy, supervised by you. This will really
encourage her back and neck muscles to strengthen and will
be advantageous to her development. As her neck muscles
get strong, she will naturally move her head while asleep
and so will no longer be spending such long periods in one
position. When she is napping you may wish to prop her carefully
on her side, using a wedge or rolled towel to prevent her
from rolling over. Make sure that you are not feeding your
baby more on one side than the other, as this can contribute
to head flattening. In addition, you should avoid letting
your baby should spend long periods of time in the car seat
or pram, as these activities naturally mean that she has
pressure on the back of her head.
If you see signs of head flattening, it is a good idea
to discuss this situation with your doctor at your next
scheduled check up. Although head flattening is becoming
increasingly common, the consensus among doctors appears
to be that it is not permanent and that almost all children
have normally shaped heads by age 5.