The Importance of Tummy Time for Baby's Developing Head
For children in daycare, Dr. Willinger says parents should clearly communicate to caregivers that they want their babies to have monitored tummy time while awake and to assure that the infants aren’t placed in the same position all the time. By the time a baby begins to sit up on her own, Dr. Butler says, the head will gradually round out. “No matter what you do, the head will start to improve.”
Are Helmets Necessary?
The need to have infants wear molded helmets, which look like small bicycle helmets, to reshape the head is uncommon, says Dr. Butler. A frequent reason many babies are outfitted with helmets—which are costly and not typically covered by insurance—is because their parents are uncomfortable with the appearance of their child’s head.
“Parents love their children and want to do everything to help them,” he says, adding that he has yet to see a convincing study showing that helmets, worn for up to 18 hours a day for several weeks, reshape heads better than simple repositioning does.
“People can get nutty about this,” echoes Dr. Willinger. “You have to be practical.”
Even if a baby develops a slight flat spot, Dr. Butler stresses that having an asymmetrical head does not affect a child’s neurological development; it’s merely a cosmetic condition that will likely resolve itself.
If your child does develop a flat area on her head that does not respond to simple position changes, you may want to ask your pediatrician to look into corrective measures to promote a rounder appearance. The measures can include wearing a corrective helmet.
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