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Flat Head

Do you change your newborn's sleeping position every night? If not, it may lead to him developing flat spots on his head, or a flat head. 
 

Abhinav was born a healthy baby boy. Everything seemed normal with him at first, but as he turned 2 years old, his parents, Rita and Anil, noticed that there seemed to be something wrong with the shape of his head. They consulted their doctor, who said that nothing was wrong at all, and his head would gradually go back to his normal shape. Rita and Anil were relieved when they heard this, but they continued to monitor Abhinav's head shape. As Abhinav entered his fourth month, his parents realized that his head was definitely not taking on a normal shape. It was flat from one side, and normally developed from the other. So they decided it was about time they found out precisely what the problem was. 
 

What was wrong with Abhinav? 

Abhinav had developed a form of cranial asymmetry, known as Plagiocephaly. There are three kinds of cranial asymmetry.

  • Plagiocephaly, in which the child's head is asymmetrical at the sides. One side is flatter than the other. 
  • Brachycephaly, in which the back of the head is flat. 
  • Scaphocephaly, in which the head of the child is long and narrow. 


Why does this happen? 

A newborn baby's skull is very soft, and it is still developing. The bones can easily be affected by pressure. When a baby sleeps in one position for very long, a lot of pressure is being applied to that particular area of the skull, causing it to flatten. As a result, your baby may develop a flat head. 
 

Does this condition get alright on its own?

In no way does a flat head affect brain development. In addition, very often, as the child grows up, his skull regains its regular shape and this condition resolves itself, but this is not always the case, so it is advisable not to take a risk. After all, prevention is better than cure. 
 

Prevention

A flat head occurs when a child sleeps in the same position, with the head turned in the same direction, every night. To avoid this, you should turn your baby around every other night. Your baby will most probably want to face the room, and not the wall. So if your baby is placed at the head of the crib one night, and at the foot the other, he will sleep on his left or right side, accordingly. This is called 'counter positioning'. 

You can also place a mobile once in a while, so your baby sleeps flat on his back. 

Avoid making your baby sleep on his tummy. While this may not be the cause of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), statistics show that it increases the risk. However, this does not mean your baby cannot sleep on his tummy at all. He can, as long as he is in your supervision, and for short periods at a time. Not only will this help prevent flat spots on your baby's head, it will also aid his development.
 

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