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Flat head 9 month old

(21 Posts)
Mudwiggle Wed 19-Oct-11 10:09:38

DS2 has got a noticeably flat head, fairly symmetrical but definitely flat at the back. I have mentioned this to HV a couple of times but was told he'll be fine, it;ll grow, etc. Now I have made the mistake of googling and I am worried that I have left it too late to be fixed.
I am seeing HV next week so would be grateful for any advise, what measurements should she/I take?
DS is happy and healthy generally but I would say a month or two behind on his development, eg: rolled fairly late, rarely sits for more than 30 secs or so, rolls around rather than crawls, that sort of thing.
Pls don't be afraid to scare me, ignorance is not bliss!

AKMD Wed 19-Oct-11 10:53:10

Nothing I can say is going to scrub the googling from your mind, sorry. But I'll have a go.

My nephew had quite bad Flat Head Syndrome and, because he lives in the USA, was fitted out at 8mo with a fibreglass helmet that he had to wear 23 hours a day for nearly a year. Most of the information you found on Google was American wasn't it? Yes? grin Health care over there is a massive, multi-billion dollar sector operating under a much looser regulatory framework than in the UK and the more companies with vested interests can scare parents into spending on ther DCs, the better for them. My nephew had quite bad Flat Head Syndrome and, because he lives in the USA, was fitted out at 8mo with a fibreglass helmet that he had to wear 23 hours a day for nearly a year. Guess how much that cost... He hated it. His parents insisted on it but hated it too. If he was in the UK, he wouldn't have had a helmet.

The benefits of helmets for treating FHS are widely disputed and the NHS won't pay for them. Cases of babies having such severe FHS that the benefit of having a helmet outweighs the hassle, inconvenience, discomfort and potential for delayed devlopment caused by wearing one are very rare and are mostly found in premature babies who have been lying flat on their backs much more than full-term babies, thereby deforming the softer bone tissue.

Your HV is right; almost every baby has a noticeably flat bit at one point or another and as your DS spends more time sitting up and as his skull grows, the flat bit at the back of his head will resolve itself without any intervention whatsoever. You can help by encouraging him to sit up with support so that he spends less time flat on his back.

Other than that, stop believing all the adverts smile

AKMD Wed 19-Oct-11 10:53:39

Oops, repetition there but you know what I mean.

oldmum42 Wed 19-Oct-11 11:00:28

Since the back-to-sleep campaign, heads have got flatter, so to a certain extent, more normal......

We bought a special pillow for our DS4 when he was about 2months, as he tended to turn his head slightly to one side so not only was it flat at the back, but also uneven. The pillow was called a butterfly pillow, is safe from birth, looks like a donut. There is also a mattress with a grove in it, which is said to prevent flathead, but we already had a mattress so just used the pillow, and results. Were visible within 3weeks... He's 11 months now, and is still a bit flat, but it's even on both sides.

The older the baby is, the longer it takes, but still worth trying the pillow or mattress, don't listen to the HV when she says no pillows for babies, as breathable ones designed for babies are fine. She may also try to convince you that it's fine, the hair will cover it etc, but go with your own instincts.

Try to keep DS2 of his back as much as possible- sitting, on side, on front, as the flat head is a direct result of the huge amount of time our babies now spend with the back of their heads pressing against a surface, cot, car seat, pushchair.
I am no fan of baby walkers, but bought DS4 similar thing, bouncer activity centre with no w heels and made sure he had 15 or 20 min in it 2 or 3 times a day as soon as his back was strong enough, 5.5months I think, until he could crawl and sit up himself.

rockboobs Wed 19-Oct-11 11:02:21

My ds has a flat spot on the back of his head at the right hand side where he sleeps but as he's grown its definitely filled out a bit. He's 9 months now.

I've felt the back of my own head and various other peoples and i've found no ones head is perfectly even, but its impossible to tell when their hair covers it. Its just one of those things.

I can't tell you to stop worrying but... stop worrying! smile

Heavensmells Wed 19-Oct-11 11:33:28

The back of my ds's head was flat at that age. It was like an iron! My h.v and g.p said the same thing as yours and it did slowly but surely come back out to normal by the time he was about 15 months. I was very paranoid and worried about it but all was ok in the end. I took pics every wk and felt a little better when I could see evidence of improvement.

castlesintheair Wed 19-Oct-11 11:37:11

It's a lottery. Some correct naturally, some don't for whatever reason. Personally, I'd do something about it now as you don't know what the future holds.

Rogers1 Wed 19-Oct-11 11:52:10

I would recommend (advice we had from our HV)...encourage tummy-time at regular intervals throughout the day (when baby is happy). When napping...lay baby on side (during the day so you can monitor)..& special support pillows can be purchased.
A baby's head doesn't 'form shape' til around 12 -18 months (so I was told)...

MrGin Wed 19-Oct-11 11:54:02


my dd developed a deformed head shape ( plagiocephaly ) , I think myself and her mother noticed it around 3 / 4 months and it really was out of kilter, not just flat at the back.

For dd this was caused by her being engaged for a long time in the womb, her neck muscles were slightly strained on one side, and hence after birth she always favoured having her head on one side. The skull being so soft her head went a bit wonky.

It is a real dilemma. Do you accept that it'll grow out ( exactly what all the HV's said ) or not take the risk and spent upwards of 2 grand on a cranial remolding helmet ? There is a heated debate about it. But I do know people who still have flat heads as adults, so it doesn't always grow out.

We eventually went for a free consultation with dd. And ultimately went ahead with the helmet. Thankfully as dd was still so little she only needed it for about 4 months. We also had physio for her neck.

At nine months I don't think you've left it too late if that's where you want to go. But it was upsetting for dd's mum as she felt she was missing out on feeling dd's head what with the helmet on most of the time except bath time. DD hardly noticed, I guess she just thought it was normal.

Mudwiggle Thu 20-Oct-11 02:21:57

OK, calmer now. Thank you for your replies. Options seem to be:
1. Do nothing (and hope for the best)
2. As little 'back time' as possible, incl sleeping maybe with various pillows and mattresses
3. A helmet
I think that I will go with number 2 for the next month taking photos weekly to see if there is any change (great idea, it may have got better or worse but in my sleep deprived state I hadn't noticed day to day).
Thank you!

AKMD Thu 20-Oct-11 08:42:15

If you're looking at a pillow this one is worth a look.

bambichini Mon 24-Oct-11 16:34:14

HI Mudwiggle, I know how you feel, my little girl is 9 months with a same prob. we spoken to HV and with docs on few occasions and they all said that it will get better, but here we are at 9 months and to me it doesn't look any better.I am really angry at the HV for not telling us about the flat head really early on, we would've done something sooner and tried harder with her tummy time! So frustrating! we have been taking photos, but really to be a fair judge they have to be taken at the same distance and position which is very difficult! I feel that we should be doing something, but my boyfriend feels that there isn't enough evidence that helmets will not "damage" her in any way, and is happy to sit and wait until it gets better which in a way I agree. so will try the pillow as recommended, and hope she will sleep on it as she is very "mobile" in her cot. thank you all for your replies, its good to know that I am not alone.

snowmummy Mon 24-Oct-11 21:13:55

I've used the pillows with my third DC but I'm sorry to say I think I'm right in saying that they shouldn't be used once they are mobile within the cot. We have also used the sleepcurve mattress but that also because less effective once the baby is moving around more within the cot.

At nine months your options are as you said. If you don't want to go for a helmet, then I'd work at keeping your ds off the back of his head as much as possible. This includes bouncy chairs and car seats.

snowmummy Mon 24-Oct-11 21:16:56

oops posted too soon.

The other point I wanted to make was that heads do not always round out naturally. The HV and docs will tell you that because that's the NHS line. As far as they're concerned, its a cosmetic problem. I know plenty of older kids with heads that are flattened.

The other thing you could try is cranial osteopathy. Like helmets, its a contentious one, but there you go.

Tammylucy Thu 06-Feb-14 08:53:02

Pls pls would you be able to tell me weather your baby's flat head got better? I'm in the same situation with my 8 months old and I'm so stressed about it. Thank you so much x

MiaowTheCat Thu 06-Feb-14 09:05:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hanloumac Thu 06-Feb-14 09:13:07

Our son had a starband helmet & although hard at the time I don't regret it now. He was very flat and repositioning just caused the flatness to spread. I think he was 5 months when we started. His head is lovely now and he's 7. The NHS will not give any advice towards this. My brother took his little boy who had a narrow head, the GP's said it was fine, he actually had a fused skull and needed surgery. But that's rare!

sillyworriedmama Thu 06-Feb-14 09:33:19

I was really, really worried about this with my DS1 (and posted about it lots too) ultimately we did nothing, he's now 3.5 and while his head is still not as round as his little brothers at the back, it is perfectly normal. It really was flat as a plank for a while. Ultimately you can't guarantee anything, but on balance I'm very glad I didn't go for a star band or similar, as it would have been a real financial strain and he is completely normal now anyway.

babypup Thu 06-Feb-14 13:13:40

My little boy had this! His was the flat on the back right hand side because of the way he slept. In some photos looking back he did look quite odd! I worried to and got the GP to refer us to a Paediatrician. He took measurements, and said he would monitor it for 6 months. He totally grew out of it and as he spent more time sitting up and crawling he just went back to normal. His head is perfectly normal now. I used to spend ages sneaking into this room to try and move his head in the other direction when he was sleeping, two seconds later he would roll in back again lol! It all worked out fine for us. Hope that helps put your mind at rest a little.

jaybirdsinginginthedeadofnight Thu 06-Feb-14 13:51:29

My DD had a flat spot on the right at the back of her head. DH was against any intervention like a helmet. I took her to a chiropractor as I wanted to do something as he treated her and she got a bit older she started sleeping on her tummy. It rounded out. The chiropractor may not have done much except drain my bank account but I felt better in the knowledge I was actively doing something about it! Since DS came along we keep him off his back except for sleeping. When he's sleeping he has a cleavamama pillow, or a wee butterfly shaped one when he's in his gym.

I think this should be mentioned at antenatal classes and all first time mums advised to alternate their child's head position for every nap!

As PP said it is advised that pillows are taken away when they start to roll, but you can continue to use them in buggy, on changing mat etc etc

ThreeBeeOneGee Thu 06-Feb-14 18:05:28

DS3 was born with an asymmetrical head because his sister was squashing him into one position for most of the last trimester. It improved with age and once he was past babyhood, only someone looking very carefully would notice.

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