A few days after delivery when you’ve spent every possible waking moment with your newborn, you might start to notice that their head shape is a little asymmetric. Don’t panic right away.
Usually, infant skulls aren’t entirely solid, which makes it easier to deliver them during pregnancy as the birth channel is quite narrow. The two soft spots on their skull are known as fontanels, which give some room for the brain to develop within. It takes about 9-18 months for the skull to form a definite shape.
If you look hard enough, the back or side of your baby’s skull can start looking slightly flat as compared to the rest of their skull. This is called positional plagiocephaly.This could happen for a lot of reasons. The most common one that’s faced by most babies is due to extended time spent in the same position. When you lay your baby to sleep, it puts pressure on one particular point on their skull, causing it to become flatter than the rest of their skull. It doesn’t have any effect on the development of their brain. The flatness is noticeable mostly from the top. However, given some time, the shape evens out on its own.
What you can do about it
The first thing you can do to try and reduce the positional plagiocephaly is to always change the pressure position when you lay your baby down to rest. Make them face different directions each time and not spend too much time with their head in one spot.
You could also try laying them down on their tummy, to relieve some pressure.
If the flatness doesn’t reduce by the time your child is around 4 months old, your doctor might suggest wearing moulding helmets. It’s a helmet that needs to be worn for about 23 hours a day, which comes in contact with your baby’s skull, except the flattened part. However, this method doesn’t work after the age of 1.
In some cases, the sutures between the bones close early. This could cause the skull to grow unusually leading to craniosynostosis. This could restrict skull development and hinder brain growth as well. It must be examined by a doctor to be detected and diagnosed. Usually, this condition can be treated by surgery which involves the restructuring of the skull.
Sometimes, a muscular defect causes your baby’s head to tilt to one side, making their head positioning slightly awkward. This condition can be treated by physical therapy to stretch other muscles in the neck and freely switch positions.