To reduce the chances of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), it’s recommended to place a baby on his or her back when sleeping. However, this has also led to an increase in neck and head issues and flat head syndrome. There are different things you can do to prevent flat head syndrome, as well as numerous baby pillows on the market to help. A baby can develop flat head syndrome because their bones are soft and affected by pressure. Even with the increase in flat head syndrome, it’s still important to place the baby on their back for sleeping.
Daily Supervised Tummy Time
Tummy time will help a baby develop shoulder and neck control. When a baby is not on his or her back, they are exercising their growing bodies during tummy time. Your goal should be about an hour of tummy time broken up throughout the day. The best time to start is after your child’s first visit to the pediatrician. Anytime between four and six months, your child will likely start rolling over on his or her own and getting in more tummy time naturally.
If you are able to tell that your kid has tight neck muscles and is holding his or her head in a certain way then you may want to try a gentle neck massage. This can help relax the neck muscles. Pay attention to make sure the massage is not too uncomfortable for your child since you are moving out of the body’s comfort zone.
Help Your Child Get Moving
When a baby starts to approach two months of age, he or she starts to see things more clearly. This is a great time to start moving around the room so that your child can notice different things in all directions in the room. This provides a passive form of exercise and helps encourage your baby to exercise the neck muscles.
There are different ways you can encourage playtime. Shake a rattle or use your child’s favorite stuffed animal and then move around the room. This will have your child slowly moving the neck and head muscles to strengthen them.
Avoid Long Road Trips
When in the car for an extended period of time, a baby will hold his or her neck in the same position while in a car seat. Although many children will fall asleep in the car, this is not always a safe position and it’s best to place the baby on his or her back when sleeping so that the neck muscles are instead in a stretched out and natural position.
The Use of Baby Pillows
Baby pillows can help position the head to help prevent flat head syndrome. However, it’s important to be the right height and shape to make sure that the baby is comfortable and there isn’t additional strain on the body. Baby pillows can also help with temperature distribution around the head and improve blood circulation.