Prevention of Plagiocephaly
As with everything, knowledge is power. Promoting awareness of plagiocephaly and education about how to prevent it are the keys to reducing the number of plagiobabies in America.
Here are some effective measures that parents and caregivers of infants can take to prevent the development of plagiocephaly:
Cranial Technologies, a manufacturer of cranial orthotic devices, had this to say about repositioning:
Repositioning uses a baby’s daily environment to help make them comfortable with their full range of neck function and encourages them to [lie in] different ways. Below are some repositioning techniques:
- Alternate the end of the crib your baby sleeps at or rotate how your baby lays on the diaper changing table.
- Place toys in various locations of the swing, crib or car seat to encourage diverse movement.
- Don’t always use the same hip and arm to carry your baby.
- Communicate with your child from both sides equally.
- Limit the amount of time your child spends in car seats, bouncy seats, etc.”
Additionally, you can alternate which way the baby’s head faces when they are asleep on their backs so they do not spend all night on one side of their face. If your baby is a thumb sucker, try putting a mitt over the hand of choice and encourage them to suck the other thumb. Babies have a tendency to only suck one thumb, and to turn their heads toward the thumb they are sucking.
Adequate Tummy Time
Since the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) initiated the “Back to Sleep” campaign in 1992, incidences of plagiocephaly have risen in this country. The Back to Sleep campaign has been widely successful in reducing the number of infant deaths due to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), so for that reason we encourage all parents to follow the AAP’s recommendations.
So, when your infant is sleeping, lie the baby on his or her back, and follow the repositioning techniques outlined above. When the baby is awake, don’t leave him or her to sit in a bouncy seat, baby swing, or infant car carrier for long periods of time. Hold your baby, wear your baby in a front carrier, wrap, or sling. Babies love to be held, and it is great for their development. Remember, you can’t spoil a baby by holding him too much! If you have a particularly fussy baby, you might even find that wearing the baby makes him or her much happier!
Tummy time is a great reprieve from the vast amount of time an infant spends on his or her back. It allows the baby to see the world from a different point of view, and it also strengthens the head, neck, and shoulder muscles and promotes better motor skills. Babies who have more Tummy Time may learn to roll over, sit up and crawl faster than babies who do not. (Source: Mayo Clinic.)
How to do Tummy Time
Initiate Tummy Time with your baby right away. Begin by placing them on their stomachs across your lap 2-3 times a day for a few minutes at a time. Gradually increase to a mat or blanket on the floor. Your baby may not enjoy Tummy Time at first, but it is critical for building strength, preventing plagiocephaly, and reaching developmental milestones. Try rolling up a towel and placing it under baby’s chest and arms to assist with raising his or her head. You can also use this opportunity to get down on the floor and play with your baby!
By the time your baby is 3-4 months old, aim for 20 minutes of Tummy Time per day (it doesn’t have to be all at once).
Note: This information is designed for general guidelines only. Your child’s pediatrician may modify these guidelines for your child’s specific needs. If you have questions about these instructions or concerns regarding your child’s care, contact your child’s physician.