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does my baby need a helmet

Torticollis and Plagiocephaly Awareness Day!

Torticollis is a condition in which a baby presents with tightness of their neck muscles.  Typically, we will see that the baby prefers to tilt their neck towards their shoulder (the tight side) and turn or rotate to the opposite side.

Plagiocephaly is a condition in which the skull becomes misshaped.  It is closely related with torticollis due to the asymmetry in the neck.

These conditions can begin from positioning during pregnancy and often worsen after delivery.  The sooner Torticollis and Plagiocephaly are identified, the greater success we have at treating them.  Muscles can lengthen and strengthen with intervention and head shape can be addressed with repositioning and the use of a cranial remolding band, in more severe cases.

Between birth and 6 months, a babies skull goes through rapid growth, making this an ideal time frame to treat head shape concerns.  It is also the most successful time frame to achieve full motion and strength of the neck.

If these conditions go untreated, they can lead to delayed and asymmetrical motor patterns and other long-term consequences associated with an abnormal head shape such as malalignment of the jaw, visual or auditory changes and safety concerns.

What to watch for:

  • Baby only turning their head one direction
  • Always sleeping towards the same side
  • Difficulty holding their head in the middle with tummy time
  • A neck tilt one direction
  • Flattening of the skull
  • Difficulty nursing on one side

*If you notice any of these concerns, seeking a Pediatric Physical Therapy consult and treatment is essential to ensuring the best outcomes!

Helping Your Baby Sit Upright

Improve your baby's seated position

I am often asked, "How do I help my baby sit upright?" Once your baby has mastered tummy time and rolling, they can start sitting with support around 5-6 months of age and usually become independent with sitting by 7-8 months.  Here are a few different ways to help your baby learn how to sit:

  • Place their hands in front of them.  While sitting behind them, provide support with your hands at their waist or legs to assist with their balance.
  • Place a boppy pillow (like the photo to the right) behind your baby while they are in the sitting position for support and safety.
  • Place toys that are slightly taller than the floor in front of your baby.  This will enable your baby to sit more upright while playing.

Remember, while sitting is such an exciting independent skill, we don’t want to lose focus on the importance of tummy time.  Tummy time is what will lead to crawling, which is essential for future milestones.  Stay tuned for more information on how to help your baby crawl on our next post!  Contact us with any questions!

baby sit upright
does my baby need a helmet

Does my baby need a helmet?

I often get asked, “Does my baby need a helmet?”.  Here’s some information on the why, how, and when we need to address an abnormal head shape!

A cranial remolding band or helmet (also known as a DOC Band from Cranial Technologies) can assist in re-shaping your baby’s head when flattening has occurred.

Flattening or an abnormal head shape can occur from either positioning while inutero or excessive time spent on the baby’s head after birth. Plagiocephaly, brachycephaly or scaphocephaly (all abnormal head shapes) can lead to developmental asymmetries, changes with vision, hearing impairments, feeding limitations and other alignment concerns. It’s important to understand that an abnormal head shape is NOT simply a cosmetic issue.

If you notice misshaping or flattening of your baby’s head, seek a skilled Pediatric Physical Therapy evaluation as soon as possible! Here at Total Pediatric Therapy, we can assist with repositioning in an attempt to avoid the use of a band or guide you through the process if one is necessary. Pediatric PT’s can also assist with improving strength and mobility of the baby’s neck, which is often related to head shape concerns.

Assessing the severity of your baby’s head shape and considering their age, helps to guide our treatment approaches.

Ideal treatment times to reshape a baby’s head are between 0-6 months of age, specifically 3-6 months for a helmet. During this time frame, the head grows rapidly and allows reshaping to occur most successfully! After 6 months of age, that growth slows significantly and treatment times are longer.

Earlier treatment leads to improved outcomes! Please reach out with questions or share your experience.  Contact us for an evaluation if you have concerns.

Tummy Time

Tummy time is a strengthening activity that begins with placing your baby on their stomach to play during wakeful times.  This activity puts babies in position to practice lifting their bodies and heads and to begin controlling their movements.