Placing your infant to sleep on his back is crucial to reducing his risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). But spending too much time on his back can up your baby’s odds for developing flat head syndrome. Here, find out how to prevent it.
Why Flat Head Syndrome Happens
Compliance with the AAP’s recommendation that babies sleep on their backs to prevent SIDS has helped to do just that. However, it’s contributed to a sweeping rise in two less-serious conditions—flat head syndrome, the development of a flat spot on a young baby’s skull; and torticollis, the shortening of a muscle in the neck resulting in asymmetrical neck posture. Both can cause flat head syndrome—so you should also take steps to keep your baby from routinely resting on the same part of his soft skull.
The problem “has reached epidemic proportions, with nearly one in two babies developing it to some degree,” says Jane Scott, MD, a board-certified pediatrician and neonatologist. Treatment ranges from physical therapy for your little one to his donning a custom plastic helmet, so prevention is advised.
Preventing Flat Head Syndrome
Supervised time on his tummy will keep your baby’s skull round and his neck in check, along with a helpful invention from Scott: Tortle, a beanie designed to keep infants up to 6 months old from lying too long on the same part of their heads. Simply position a Tortle on your baby’s head with the attached support roll under any spot that appears to be flattening, or alternate the roll from one side to the other. ($19.99, tortle.com)