Monday, 10 December 2012

Flawless ‘Gol’ head: the science

While the last post dealt with myths, what the aunties (who advised me and referred to in the last post) were actually trying to do was, warn me against the baby getting ‘flat spots’ on his head, owing to the baby resting his head in a similar position for a prolonged period. This phenomenon is formally known as ‘plagiocephaly’ or the ‘flat head syndrome’.
A baby’s head is vulnerable to being misshapen as the skull is soft and disjoint (to help the passage of the head through the birth canal), and prone to adopt any shape where applied pressure.
A baby’s head may adopt a shape within the uterus if there are multiple pregnancies, and lead to an oddly looking head at birth. This usually corrects itself within six weeks. However, if flat spots develop later, this is termed as positional plagiocephaly. The phenomenon usually happens when a baby lies on his back or on either side, forcing the mattress against the skull and moulding the skull in a flat spot. Positional plagiocephaly does not cause brain damage, but may contribute to lessening of aesthetic appearance of the head.
how to inspect 'flat spots'

The flat spots correct on their own by the time a child is 6 months of age. By that time the baby will be spending less time on his back and more time either crawling or sitting. However, the following measures can be taken to correct plagiocephaly:
  • Change the position of the baby’s head during naptimes. By alternating her head to different sides, the pressure on the singular spot will be dispersed across the head making the flat spot disappear.
  • Increase the baby’s ‘tummy time’, starting from 5 to 10 minutes from the first month, and working up to 30 minutes by the fourth month.
  • If the baby is bottle fed, change the position of the baby to prevent pressure application to the skull on one side only.
  • Decrease the time a baby spends in bouncers or a car seat. To facilitate a baby to learn how to sit, place her in your lap, and support her back by encircling her spine with your front. This way not only will she soon start sitting but there will be no pressure to exacerbate the flat spot. Support sitting however should only be done after 4 months of age.

by making the baby sit in your lap for part of the day, not only will it contribute to flat spots' correction, but also help her explore the world around her

take pictures of the baby's head every week to notice any progress and/or irregularities

For a detailed medical description of plagiocephaly, you can visit the following website of the National Health Services, supported by the United Kingdom:
I personally found the site very helpful as it describes in detail the extent of seriousness of the concern and the associated medical remedies if required. Plus it's validated by medical practitioners!

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