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DD is developing a serious flat head at two months. advise hugely appreciated.

(92 Posts)
bbface Sun 19-May-13 18:51:12

My beautiful girl has a very noticeable flat head. I have to confess I find it utterly adorable, but my dh is very concerned and I do worry for the future.

Any advise pls, perhaps recommendations for pillows?

Many thanks

JoyMachine Wed 22-May-13 21:52:53

re repositioning- you don't need to use a positioner or side-sleeping (though depends how active your baby is really- as I said we couldn't reposition DD's head as shewriggled too much) the best way to do it is to place a rolled-up towel beneath the mattress, so that baby is gently encouraged to face a particular way- baby is still on their back, in line with SIDS guidelines, but their head will naturally tilt the other way from the towel.
We did this in a cotbed for DS, and it made a big difference, we alternated the side the towel was on when we thought it needed evening a bit on the other side IYSWIM.

Prawncat Wed 22-May-13 15:27:22

Natty, I'm pregnant too and will also be doing everything I can to avoid my next LO developing a flat head, but I'd rather a flat head than taking any risks where SIDS is concerned.

My DS wore a helmet for 9 months. Not the most fun, but surely the guilt you feel about your DD's head would pale into insignificance in the face of SIDS if you didn't follow all the guidelines?

Natty4 Wed 22-May-13 12:49:17

My dd has a flat head. I had never heard of a flat head being permanent so didn't take too much notice until she was about 3 months old and it had become very visible. We sought advice from two health visitors, a doctor and a paediatrician and they all said there was nothing that could be done and that it would grow out by itself, although it may not grow back fully.

I bought lots of different pillows (on advice from a friend) available on Amazon and placed them in cot and pushchair or car seat at all times. I then didn't worry about it. At about 18 months, when the bones had definitely hardened I became very distressed that dd's head would likely stay 'flat' now her whole life and I have had a hard time dealing with it as I feel I let her down in not doing enough of my own research at the time or realised the importance of what was happening.

We have since tried cranial osteopathy but no success.

I am currently pregnant with my second child and I have spent hours researching what can be done to prevent this happening again as I know I can not rely on any medical professional to give me the correct advice. I want to avoid helmet therapy if I can but know this will be my last resort should it happen again. I will be doing the following things to avoid flat head happening again:

1. Repositioning. I have bought a sleep positioner to help me side sleep my child and I will alternate sides as much as possible. I understand this is against SIDS but I feel this is a safe option and will be obeying all other SIDS guidelines.

2. I will not be using a bouncer or playmat

3. I will use a sling instead of a buggy.

This is not to say that all flatheads stay flat as I know a few other people who's children did have flat heads and they did nothing about it yet their heads are now fully rounded. I think it depends on how bad it gets and the luck of the draw as to how much your child's head will grow back.

lucybrad Tue 21-May-13 19:08:25

Professionals told me my twins flat heads would right themselves - they didn't and now have very odd shaped heads. They were 5 weeks premature and I think this makes the difference and add to that they are twins so had half the amount of picking up a singleton would have and the flat head was obvious by about 4 months, and they were suffering from the bulge at the front and funny angles to the face. They had scans and xrays and we were told it would right itself, but it didnt. I think its more noticiable because they are boys and so they wear their hair short, not covering it very well. They are 9 now.

wheresmyliein1973 Tue 21-May-13 18:00:29

Hi, our first son had a very skewed head, very wonky on one side when he was born. We tried cranial osteopathy and encouraging him to look the other way but with no great changes. Luckily, this all happened within the first 3 months of his life and we decided not to take the chance of things correcting themselves.

DS wore a corrective helmet for 6 months and it worked wonders. Our health insurance wouldn't cover the £2k cost as it is deemed cosmetic, which it totally isn't!

Anyway, I just wanted to say don't assume that all plagiocephaly corrects itself. I hope it does but you have a window of opportunity in which you can definitely influence it. DS didn't mind the helmet at all as he was only 4 months old when we started, but myself and DH found it very traumatic as its not the prettiest of things.

Overall though, totally worth doing from a parent's point of view.


Asteria Tue 21-May-13 16:49:39

My step DD and DS both have really misshapen heads because they spent their entire day (bar feeding and changing) sitting in the same position in bouncer chairs, whilst DH was at work, when they were babies. Nothing was done about it as DH's ex took it as a personal attack on her parenting (which essentially it was) and refused to seek professional advice.
Does anyone know if there is anything that can be done at 5 and 7 years old or is it too late for the poor little things?

FabCatsSlave Tue 21-May-13 16:23:33

We saw Dr Blecher too and he was amazed how well our daughter did. Even better than expected.

Prawncat Tue 21-May-13 15:21:48

He's nearly 3 now, BTW.

Prawncat Tue 21-May-13 15:18:34

Haven't hade time to read all the posts, but my DS developed a flat back-of-the-head as he never turned his head when he slept and was always facing the ceiling - he'd just moved his head straight back if we tried to manouvre him
GPs, HVs etc completely useless. The pillow didn't help but maybe stopped it getting worse, same with tummy time.

We ended up getting a plagiocephaly helmet when he was 8 months, which cost about £2k. It made a difference, and would have made a much bigger difference if we'd got it sorted earlier.

I would recommend getting a cranial osteopath to check her out ASAP and maybe sort out any slight stiffness or anything which is causing your LO to favour a certain position. Then hopefully you can sort it out without having to contemplate the helmet route!

DS still has a slightly flat bit at the back, and his head is wider than it would have been, (very different to when he was born) but not so as anyone else would notice. Another one due soon, so I will be very vigilatnt about his/her head as we can't afford another £2k!

Good luck!

dietcokeandwine Tue 21-May-13 14:41:54

With DS1, I'd never heard of flat-head or plagiocephaly, and he slept brilliantly on his back all night from a young age, and spent hours each day lying flat on his back on a playmat / under a baby gym because he seemed so happy doing that. His head is absolutely perfect, never developed a flat spot at all, even though he would have spent literally hours lying on a (fairly non padded) playmat on the carpet.

With DS2, the HV pointed out that his head looked quite flat across the back at the 8 week check, and advised all the corrective measures (tummy time, repositioning etc). We did all this, bought the Clevamama pillow, limited time on his back during the day and never used the thin playmat etc, and his head shape did improve as time went on although it never totally righted itself. Crucially his eye and ear alignment was never affected so we didn't go down the helmet route. You wouldn't notice it now (3.5) but if you place your palm against the crown of his head you still feel a flattish bit there.

Having experienced flat head with DS2, we were soooo careful with DS3 (now 3m), but despite all our efforts (and the fact that DS3 has spent more time in a sling than both the others put together) he too has developed a bit of a flat head across the back. I am being careful re time spent on his back during the day, and he has the Clevamama pillow in his cot for nap and bedtime time; the problem is though that these pillows do not fit into the moses basket and of course in the early weeks/months that is generally where he's spent the night which I think was where the flat head developed. Again, though, there is no impact on his eye/ear alignment so I don't plan to go down the helmet route. I am a bit paranoid about it though and am definitely keeping a careful eye...

So my conclusion would definitely be that it depends on the individual baby!

I would say try all the corrective stuff, and bear the helmet in mind as a possible option in the future. As others have said it doesn't affect brain development at all but I have heard of concerns around overheating at night when wearing it (a friend whose LO had a helmet was told to only dress him very lightly at nighttime as his overall body temp would be higher whilst wearing the helmet) so that is something to bear in mind too.

MrsPear Tue 21-May-13 13:47:19

Both my children had / have flat head at the back. DS 2 is far worse than his brother. From reading all the other responses i can understand why the pead was looking from the front and back at his ears and then checking his neck. His ears are at the same level so that is alright. He even has dip in the middle of the flat bit. The pead wrote a detailled description and told me it should correct. He does like tummy time and so awake time is spent sitting on laps.

I would say see the gp and if she/ he is unhelpful then say some pennies and go private.

justpoppy Tue 21-May-13 13:43:31

DS had brachycephaly and was treated by Dr Blecher in London from 8 months until just over a year. His head is so much better than it was but it is still quite a strange shape. He is almost 8 now and I have problems getting him bike helmets to fit.

HV/GP will be incredibly dismissive as treatment on the NHS is rare (or it was 7 years ago - it may be non existent now. My HV was downright rude and we ended up making a formal complaint against her but that's another story!

I used a sleep curve matress and a goigoi pillow in the pram. DS wore his helmet for 23 hours of the day and the hour he wasn't wearing it we kept him off his head in a bouncer.

As others have said you have plenty of time to try repositioning which can be really effective. I don't regret getting helmet therapy for my baby at all. It doesn't affect brain development - that's absolute rubbish but equally be wary of people telling you flat head is normal/cosmetic/will rectify itself because it doesn't always.

MoelFammau Tue 21-May-13 13:24:59

DD never had a flat head but she had terrible silent reflux and just couldn't lie flat. She slept in a sling or lying on our chests for months. I nearly died of tiredness but I guess that was the tiny tiny silver lining. Frankly would rather have traded a flat head for more sleep though!

redhappy Tue 21-May-13 12:45:39

Ok, Little hard for me to understand as I have a flat head myself. Funnily enough glasses do sit wonky! But I think this is because my ears are actually slightly different sizes. I struggle with the concept of 'normal' as something we should all aspire to tbh, but that is just my own perspective.

Whatsthatnoise Tue 21-May-13 12:29:44

My dd had torticollis and hypotonia which resulted in her having a pronounced plagiocephaly. She had a MRI scan just before her 1st birthday and I was shocked by how misshapen her skull actually was, she had another MRI a year later and her skull was a much more normal shape. She learned how to sit up and had physio during that time which made the difference.

I second what everyone else is saying speak to the GP/HV. Keep changing positions, plenty of tummy time and a pillow under the sheet. Hopefully it is nothing but in case it is something it is better to catch it early.

helpmesum1 Tue 21-May-13 12:03:52

iv been trought this very scary it dh was 3mths when he sleptd one of his eyes stayd doc refered me to hospital see if it was his eye but it was his skull when babys are born they have 5 pieces of skull when they favo (left for my dh)a cert part of ther head the bones fuss together i had to go glasgow nd what they sed because his eyes,nose,ears,mouth wher al in the right place they sed to me try and keep thm off the cert part of head they also said when he gets to about 6 ya wont see it ppl only notice if i point it out easyer when ther older so i had to start feeding on my right arm which is hardeeerrr but on yur comments ppl sayin the cusion cud work hard with 2month old really gud that yav noticed now and not later when she knows whats going on.she"ll be fine hun hope ya get sored out.

foxbasealpha Tue 21-May-13 11:30:09

Very much agree with einsty - for our DS, ears were becoming misaligned, protruding forehead on one side which was even affecting the shape of one of his eyes (when I look back at photos now it is so obvious although I didn't see that at the time, only the flat head). Not only is a cosmetic issue (and I will happily admit to wanting my child to simply have a round, 'normal' shaped head) but it would have also affected glasses, even (bicycle and other) helmets fitting correctly. I hated that we had to get the (plagio) helmet and that he had to wear it for 6 months, but I was not going to risk him having an irregular shaped head, caused by back sleeping etc (a relatively new recommendation, hence why it's not a common issue in adults) for the rest of his life.

Einsty Tue 21-May-13 11:14:05

Because it is often an accidental deformity caused by or made worse by the way we handle babies these days (ie play gyms, back sleeping). It is not always just a flat spot - in the case of DS, his ears had become misaligned (difficulty with glasses in future) and one side of his forehead bulged because of the flat spot. That would likely have become permanent after about 1. Because it can often be simply corrected, it is very discouraging that parents are not being informed - for instance I don't recall any info on being careful how your baby lies and the importance of tummy time for avoiding a distorted head shape

redhappy Tue 21-May-13 09:33:39

I think I must be really missing the point here. Assuming it's not caused by anything harmful to health, can someone tell me what it is everyone's so worried about?

Einsty Tue 21-May-13 08:26:46

Interesting that the NHS is so dismissive too. Here in Aus we got a lot of 'it will probably right itself' which made me so mad because they had no plan for what would happen if it didn't. If we took the chance we would have lost the opportunity to correct it fairly easily and Inexpensively. As it happened, it was torticollis, which HV and GP hadn't even spotted.

Fwiw, I had excellent osteo care in London for DC1 at the Children's Osteo Centre in Clerkenwell. But here I found osteo no good for the torticollis/flat head. And it was only the second paediatric physio we saw who was experienced enough to help. To be fair, though, the osteo abd first physio were both pretty freshly trained. The brilliant physio we found had 20 years experience and very obviously knew her stuff and was very supportive of us wanting to take action and not wait.

Lastofthepodpeople Tue 21-May-13 05:59:14

DS had this but I was told it would go away on its own and it did. I think if you'e concerned, see your GP but it seems very common in babies and I don't know of any adults with flat heads so most must round out on their own.

CheerfulYank Tue 21-May-13 03:39:01

Here in the US babies have helmets frequently.

Mixxy Tue 21-May-13 00:58:00

My DS has plagiocephaly and torticollis. A flat head may correct itself, but if your child has torticollis - it wont. You will need to get them into OT and the sooner the better.

funnyperson Tue 21-May-13 00:18:34

Put toys in the cot/buggy/ and breast feed on the side which she/he doesn't favour- will right itself after a while.

JoyMachine Mon 20-May-13 22:54:22

Both my children had plagio, and were treated in different ways. With my DS we used repositioning, as he was a good, still sleeper, and it was easy to ensure he used all parts of his head, coupled with being in a sling most of the time.
DD had helmet therapy, as she never slept for more than 30 minutes (reflux) and didn't keep still. She also had a sling, but she sat quite early, so played sitting up, which made a big difference.

I used a goigoi pillow (swedish I think) when they were in the pram, as I'd be able to observe them all the time. Never used it when they were in the cot as I couldn't be sure there's be no risks- that said all babies in Sweden have pillows, so I suppose it's a cultural thing, I believe their rates of cot death are very low.

You do need to have it checked- as others have said, she may have torticollis which is why she prefers one side. We had physio exercises to do, and we just did them every nappy change, and it really improved.
There is another condition (that I cannot recall the name of, I'm sorry) where the plates of the skull fuse too early, so you do need to get your GP to look her over/refer to Paed, but it's very, very rare.

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