If your baby is suffering from flat head syndrome (also known as brachycephaly) you may be wondering whether you should seek treatment or leave the condition in the hopes that it will resolve itself. Babies are born with naturally malleable heads and, in some cases, flat head syndrome will correct itself naturally over time. However, in some situations intervention is required to correct your child’s head shape. So should you seek treatment? This article will give you all the facts you need to make the right decision for you and your child.
So what is flat head syndrome?
Flat head syndrome, also known as brachycephaly, is a type of plagiocephaly (a type of skull deformity). This might sound serious and scary but it is actually very common. Around 25% of babies suffer from some degree of plagiocephaly during their development. Flat head syndrome refers specifically to the flattening of the skull at the back of the head. Babies suffering from flat head syndrome may have a widening of the head which, in severe cases, can cause the front of the skull to bulge forward. This condition can have an effect on the alignment of eyes and ears, giving a ‘wonky’ effect.
Flat head syndrome is one of the most common forms of plagiocephaly, especially since parents have been encouraged by medical experts to ensure their babies sleep on their backs to avoid SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Babies skulls are naturally malleable for up to 18 months after birth and spending long periods of time in one position can have a flattening effect.
Will flat head syndrome naturally correct itself?
This is often the most important question on parents’ lips. Often doctors are not particularly helpful when asked about brachycephaly – they tend to say that these conditions usually naturally resolve themselves unless the condition is extreme.While this is often true, it is not always the case. Unfortunately the window for professional correction is small as, after 18 months, a baby’s skull loses its malleability.
Getting a professional scan to judge severity and the need for correction is a good way to gauge whether your baby’s head can safely be left to develop or whether it needs correction before the window closes. Sadly, the NHS usually regards such scans and treatments as purely cosmetic so you may need to find a private clinic to assist you with this decision.
For the majority of babies, flat head syndrome will resolve itself on its own over time. There are a few natural ‘home remedies’ you can try to speed the process along. These may include:
- Tummy time – keep your baby on his or her front as much as possible during the day and encourage them to change position regularly.
- Chop and change – when it’s bedtime change the position of toys and mobiles and the direction your little one sleeps in the cot. This can encourage them to sleep on different areas of the head