Pediatric physical therapist Sandra Felte of Boulder Community Health treats babies with flat-head syndrome. The key, she says, is strengthening neck muscles to ease pressure on the contact point of the skull. Here, Felte’s tips to avoid or correct the increasingly common condition.
1. Start tummy time early. When your baby is alert, lay her facedown on your chest while you’re leaning back, or put her tummy-down on a medicine ball—even for a few seconds—to begin building neck-muscle strength. Eventually, you’ll be able to prop her elbows underneath her so she’ll hold herself up.
2. Use stimuli to strengthen her muscles. Position your newborn on her back in the crib and place a stimulus—music, a mobile, you—in a spot that will encourage her to turn her head to her weaker side (taking pressure off the flat area). As she grows, do the same when she’s in a bouncy chair or swing.
3. Carry your baby in a variety of positions. Face her in toward you or outward, or opt for the side hold (often called the “football hold” position).
4. Limit time in the swing and the car seat. Letting your baby catch her z’s in the swing can increase her risk of plagiocephaly. The same goes for prolonged time in the car seat: Once you arrive at your destination, take her out of the seat so she can use those neck muscles.