Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Flat Head

Plagiocephaly in medical terminology and flat head for a layman is a cause of concern in infants... from too much of lying down in the same position to the same side, they may develop a soft spot and the shape of the head may become a little flattened.  A little of this is not a concern but obvious mis-shapening should be avoided... There is a lot more attached to it than a cosmetic problem.  Nothing about to raise your panic antennae up though.

Tummy time and keeping interesting things on 4 sides of the room to look at, consciously making it a point to divert the kid's attention to turn around and look in all directions, top, left and right... these are the simplest measures from day of birth.. :) Repositioning to ensure equal time spent on both sides is vital.. also while being cautious that the kid does not suffocate self, adequate tummy time is the key.

The babies are not born with a perfect round shape head, it gradually takes one shape as the skull hardens.. so, all we need to make sure is that the growth is uniform in all direction rather than one flat spot at one side which was not there earlier during birth.  simple!!  Most of this occurs during the early stages of life say first 3 to 5 months where the skull is very soft.  So changing the baby sleep position and side every 2 hours or so or after every feed between 3 to 4 hours if the kid tends to sleep just on one side should solve the problem.

A baby pillow serves two purposes in the infant.. one keeping the head a tad bit elevated and also holding the head in a proper position.

A traditional baby pillow made of mustard seeds

Dried yellow mustard seeds, a method traditionally used in India for hundreds of years to help preserve the round shape of the new-baby head. The mustard seeds mould to the natural shape of the new-born baby head and prevent the head from becoming flat at the back.  Yellow mustard seeds are preffered to black ones as they have a smoother surface and therefore slide more easily against each other, enabling the pillow to form more snuggly to the shape of the baby's head and therapeutically too mustard seeds are believed to reduce back pains, migraines and joint pains, so no harm making one for the kid.

Do not panic if there are signs of early flattening just focus on keeping baby's head position uniform in all directions and gradually it will go away.

PS:  The rai seeds/aavalu/mustard seeds should be packed loosely so they have moving space in the pillow rather than packing it tightly.. something akin to a micro bead pillow.  The size of the pillow actually is very small, a big notebook size, not very stiff, not very high... in short maybe about one and a half or double the size of the baby's head (length/breadth everything put together), not very big or fluffy just the correct size.

I used something like the one in the picture above, which we get in all the baby stores in India. A very tiny pillow. Preferably, stitch a cover for it so that you can wash it regularly and keep it clean for the kid.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post..I prefer not to use pillows for babies until head control is acheived and that is what is recommended by american academy of pediatrics, still to be followed by IAP- Indian academy of pediatrics...after good headcontrol the ehad rest you have shown is good enough I guess but then they would not stay on the pillow. I would suggest placing a pillow under the crib mattress so that it is elevated and baby can sleep well without any breathing problems even during cold..keep up your excellent writing skills...