I've had a couple of moms talk to me about their little ones who are struggling with torticollis and plagiocephaly. Those are the technical terms for a fixed side bend or rotation of the neck, and a flattening of the head. It’s a problem we’re seeing more and more of these days in brand new babies, and those ones a little older (usually around the 3 month mark). I’m so happy that I’ve gained expertise in this area, and I’m very comfortable telling parents that I can help their children. Flattening of the skull is more than an aesthetic issue, as a large percentage of children with plagiocephaly go on to have learning disorders as they grow and develop. That’s why its so important to have your child looked at by a trained pediatric chiropractor to make sure the vertebra of the neck and the bones of the skull are all correctly positioned. In my practice I use a pediatric-specific approach of the Sacro Occipital Technique. This technique is often used in adults to balance the pelvis, and bring the body into alignment through adjustments and gentle touch manoevers. In babies, a lot of the focus is on alignment and the very subtle movement of the cranial bones. That’s where our expertise really shines, and helps little ones begin to have full range of motion of the neck, as well as regaining the ideal head shape. This is all accomplished through gentle sustained touch on specific areas of the skull. There is no bending or twisting or popping required.
Plagiocephaly isn’t just for babies who aren’t able to move their necks well, it also happens in little ones who spend too much time on their backs. This happens more in second and third and fourth children because we have less hands to manage a little one, and they wind up spending a little more time in their bassinets, or more likely, their car seats. Those little infant bucket seats can be a godsend in those moments when your little one is sleeping and you have to schlep into the grocery store, and the mall and take your other two kids to dance and swim and gymnastics. The dark side of them, however is that your baby ends up spending too much time on their back.
This second type of plagiocephaly, and more commonplace these days, usually starts to show up around the three-month mark. The good news is, plagiocephaly is very avoidable! You just have to have a keen eye, a skilled pediatric chiropractor, and a little creativity. When your baby is brand new, and you notice that they’re only turning their head in one direction, or they seem to have a fixed neck bent to the side or into rotation, take them to your chiropractor right away. By correcting the torticollis or wry neck, we can prevent the flattening of the head from ever occurring.
As your baby grows, make sure you hold and wear them as much as possible. Avoid leaving them on their backs, or in their car seats. If you travel often and extended periods in the car seat cannot be avoided, consider adding a Noggin Nest (made by Boppy) to your child’s car seat. It will allow the head to rest and maintain an ideal shape. If you’re running errands, try to take your little one out of the seat and wear them until they’re big enough to start sitting on their own in the grocery cart.
Hopefully these tips will keep your baby’s head nice and round, but if you’re already faced with a flattening issue, please call us. We can help.