Every parent knows that parenthood comes with its fair share of surprises, both good and bad. One such surprise includes the softness of a baby’s skull and its ability to slowly change shape over time. Most babies that are born vaginally have slightly egg-shaped heads from passing through the birth canal, while babies born via C-section likely have perfectly round heads. Newborns’ skulls are meant to change slightly to assist with the birthing process, but if you don’t keep an eye on their head shape as they get older, you could be faced with some potential concerns and big decisions.
It is typical for babies’ heads to flatten slightly on the back or side due to their sleeping positions and the fact that they cannot sit up for the first several months. If you notice a “flat spot,” talk to a doctor about it as it could be cause for concern and should definitely be monitored. Unusual baby head shape, or plagiocephaly, has been linked to hearing and visual disabilities, ear infections, and developmental delays in movement, motor skills, language, and cognitive skills.
How Can I Fix My Baby’s Head Shape?
If you notice that your baby has an unusual head shape, there are several things you can do. The earlier you take action the better, as one part of a newborn’s skull fuses and hardens as early as 3 months of age.
- Pediatric Chiropractic – Gentle chiropractic adjustments on a newborn can encourage a release of pressure in the spinal column and brain stem, allowing proper formation of cranial bones. Additionally, chiropractic can help newborns with plagiocephaly to regain normal head shape and avoid other potentially harmful interventions done to correct the problem.
- Counter Positioning – This is beneficial for all babies, whether they exhibit signs of a flat spot or not. Counter positioning involves moving baby’s head so that it isn’t in the same position constantly, whether that means in her bed, in your arms, or while eating or playing. If you notice a slightly flat area on any part of the baby’s head, change the direction of the changing pad, feed her in a different location or arm, and encourage her to look a different way during playtime.
- Tummy Time – While some babies don’t like tummy time, it is encouraged from birth to give your newborn time on their stomachs each day. It can be short—as short as 30 seconds—to start with, and as your child strengthens his neck muscles and enjoys tummy time more, it can be lengthened. This is incredibly important not only for reducing the likelihood of a flat spot, but also for strengthening muscles and developing motor skills.
Don’t panic if your newborn or toddler has an abnormally shaped head. Seek out professional advice and take some measures to gently correct the problem before you consider more extreme methods. Chiropractic has brought about many improvements in the lives of those affected by plagiocephaly, in both physical appearance and various areas of development. Contact Dr. Grant and the staff at Greater Life Chiropractic to learn more about pediatric chiropractic in Charlotte, NC and how your baby’s head shape can be improved with gentle, precise adjustments.
Quezada, D. “Chiropractic Care of an Infant with Plagiocephaly.” Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, 2004; 6(1): 342-8. http://icpa4kids.org/Chiropractic-Research/chiropractic-care-of-an-infant-with-plagiocephaly.html
Hash, J.L. “Deformational Plagiocephaly and Chiropractic Care: A Narrative Review and Case Report.” Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics, 2014; 14(2): 1131-1138. http://www.jccponline.com/plagiocephaly.html