Babies with Flat Heads
Tips to prevent and treat positional molding
Miller explains that it is important to allow babies time on their tummies. “The other thing people overlook is that babies need time on their abdomen for overall development,” she says.
Miller suggests “chest-to-chest” bonding or time on a blanket with supervision. When a baby is lying on his mother’s chest, he will try to lift his head to look in her eyes. This helps improve the muscles in the back of the neck, minimizes the potential for torticollis (an imbalance in the size and strength of the large muscle on either side of the neck), and promotes skull base development.
I felt so guilty! How could I have let this happen to our perfect little twins? For the past four months, I felt that all I had been doing was either picking one baby up or putting one baby down. Also, as a new mother, I was worried about SIDS and always put the twins down on their backs to sleep, as recommended. Now, our precious little boys had flat, crooked heads! I remember thinking about the image of a student sitting behind our boys in school and calling them names like “Flat Head!” The thought of this made me shiver!
After a month of juggling our twins around, their heads still were flat, and it was hard to keep them in positions off their flat spots. It seemed that no matter how we positioned their heads, they would always turn their heads to the same “flat” side.
Our pediatrician referred us to a neurosurgeon for further assessment. He diagnosed them with torticollis. “An infant with torticollis will keep his head turned to the side of the shorter muscle despite any attempts to reposition the head,” says Miller.
The neurosurgeon also recommended positional molding helmet therapy. Our twins were then seen at an orthotic clinic and were fitted for helmets. “Helmets are custom made for a baby’s head to be in contact with the scalp in all areas, except for the areas that are flattened,” says Miller. “As the child grows, the helmet keeps pressure off the flat side of the head and promotes growth on the flattened side.”
Helmet therapy is usually recommended if positional molding is severe or if it is diagnosed by 6 months of age. “Even a helmet, though, cannot always remold a child’s head perfectly,” says Miller. “The best remedy is to rotate a child’s sleeping position from birth to prevent positional molding from developing.”
Our twins wore the helmet 24 hours a day, seven days a week from the time they were 5 months old until 11 months old. They didn’t even realize they were wearing them! The only time they didn’t wear them was at mealtime or when they were taking a bath. To ensure progress, we had frequent visits to the orthotic clinic for helmet readjustments. The whole experience was very enlightening for me. My twins required treatment for something that I knew nothing about—that was preventable!
The six months of helmet therapy were very challenging for us as a family, but well worth the effort. Today our twins are 4 years old and have beautiful, well-shaped heads. They’re handsome—both coming and going!
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