In our regular column, our postnatal expert MELINDA HUNT answers common questions about babies, pregnancy, parenting and more. Here, she discusses a common condition in newborn babies, flat head syndrome, and some simple steps to help prevent it.
What is flat head syndrome?
Flat head syndrome, or plagiocephaly, is when a baby develops a flat spot on their head due to pressure on that area. While this is a very common occurrence in newborn babies, it should always be checked by a paediatrician.
Typically, the condition occurs after birth because your little sweetheart has soft spots on her head that are still developing. She also spends so much time in the same position – on her back.
A rise in the incidence of flat head syndrome has interestingly coincided with a time when SIDS guidelines worldwide have specified that babies should be placed on their back and on a firm surface for all sleep. This is vital advice to adhere to – and there are some simple tips you can follow to help prevent flat head syndrome at the same time:
3 Simple Steps to Help Prevent Flat Head Syndrome
#1 When putting baby to bed, encourage his head to lie on different sides for each nap.
#2 When breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, change sides. (You do this naturally with breastfeeding, in any case.)
#3 Tummy time is an important exercise to strengthen neck muscle development – and it can be started from birth! Use a soft play mat to begin with and start with a few minutes at a time. This helps to promote your little one being able to move their head from side to side when sleeping, thus helping to prevent flat head syndrome.
Can I use a pillow for my newborn?
This can be quite a confusing issue for new parents, as you’ll often find baby shops stocking pillows that claim to help prevent flat head syndrome. For medical reasons, these are not recommended. The current advice is that no pillow is safe for a newborn as it can increase the risk of SIDS. Babies should always sleep on flat, firm mattresses with no soft furnishings, pillows, duvets or bumpers in the crib.
Melinda Maternity is a bespoke postnatal care and night nurse service. Melinda brings first-hand experience and professional advice on topics from feeding and settling to basic baby care.
Like this? See more in our Kids section.
Subscribe to Expat Living magazine now so you never miss an issue.