Supervised Tummy Time and Repositioning is extremely important in the prevention of plagiocphaly. The more time the parent can spend supervising the infant lying on their tummy, the better. Tummy time encourages the normal shaping of the back of the infant’s head along with other additional benefits.
Since physicians recommend infants sleep on their backs, to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), there are ways to help prevent infants from developing deformational plagiocephaly.
If the parent thinks their infant may have an abnormal shape to their head, they should talk to their pediatrician. Next, take photos of the entire head from every angle. Make certain to take all sides including the top of the head. After two weeks retake the photos from the same angles as before. Examine the photos carefully and notice if there are any differences in the shape of the infant’s head.
Tummy time also strengthens the muscles of the upper body, neck, and back, which are needed for balance. It allows them to see their world from a new perspective and experience numerous sensory inputs to many parts of their body, especially their mouth, face, hands, and feet. These sensory inputs excite the infant about what they are learning which leads them to explore parts of themselves, such as their fingers and toes. Next, the infant will begin to reach and twist which is the beginning stages of them learning to crawl.
After the infant is two months old, it is time to start making some changes. First, start by alternating the end of the bed the infant’s head is placed. Infants instinctively turn their head toward light. By switching the side the infant is placed on, will reduce the weight on that particular spot on their head. The parent can also do this by placing their infant’s favorite toy opposite side of their bed. Letting the infant rest on the chest of the parent while lying down and facing each other is another good way for the infant to play and strengthen their muscles.
Repositioning is essential in shaping an infants head. Too much time spent on one area of the head will lead to flattening. Therefore, it is important to limit the amount of time the infant is spending in their car seat, swing, and bouncy seat. Under close supervision caretakers can use a specially designed pillow or a towel that is rolled up to help position your infant’s head on one side. If an infant is bottle fed it is helpful to change their position by alternating the arm they are being held in during the feeding. Forward facing infant slings or carriers are recommended after their neck muscles are strong enough, this is much better for them than being carried around in an infant car seat. Finally, gently move their head to the side that is the least flat after they have fallen asleep.
Photos used with permission of the following companies: Becker Orthopedic • Cascade DAFO, Inc. • Endolite • Orthomerica Products, Inc. • Össur Americas • Ottobock • Spinal Technology, Inc. • SureStep • Touch Bionics, Inc. • Townsend Design
Courtesy of Spinal Technology, Inc. © 2013.
Courtesy of Orthomerica Products, Inc. © 2013.