Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Correcting Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly the Natural Way

Whilst cranial head remoulding is necessary for some infants suffering from brachycephaly or plagiocephaly, there is a natural method which can dramatically improve and eventually even correct the condition. The vast majority of babies are born with a slightly funny shaped skull - this is due to time spent confined in the womb and from the stretching and squashing which naturally occurs during birth - babies skulls are naturally malleable for this precise reason. Usually your little one's skull will return to a more normal shape after 6 weeks but for those that don't and for babies who develop an abnormal skull shape after this time, during infancy, treatment is usually recommended.
Cranial head remoulding (also known as cranial moulding orthosis) is one common treatment. It involves remoulding your baby's skull by placing it in a specially designed helmet which encourages the skull to grow into the correct shape over time. For children with mild-to-moderate plagiocephaly or brachycephaly (flat head syndrome) this is a fairly intensive treatment, it involves almost full time wearing of the helmet. Whilst this treatment is very effective, there are other routes you might like to pursue first which are free and which can work well.
Tummy Time
As any new parent will know, all advice states that you should ensure your baby sleeps on his or her back to reduce the risk of cot death. Although this advice is sound and should be heeded, it has caused the number of cases of plagiocephaly and brachycephaly in particular to sky rocket. This is because your baby's skull remains very malleable until they reach around one year old. By ensuring they always sleep in the same position on their back their skull can become flattened in the area where it usually rests.
'Tummy time' is a technique which encourages your baby to stay on their front during their waking hours. It really is as easy as that. By ensuring your baby spends time with their head in a different position, you dramatically reduce the amount of pressure placed on the flattened area of skull and give the skull time and space to correct itself. 30 minutes of supervised 'tummy time' is a good place to start, eventually you'll be looking to spend at least half of your baby's waking hours on their belly. It also helps your little one develop the muscles required for crawling and rolling!
Not all babies are keen to spend time on their bellies, start small and be creative - then gradually increase the time. Try lying face up and placing your little bundle on your belly so you are face to face. There are all sorts of tricks you can try! Toys and mirrors are especially helpful. Alternating the direction your baby's head is in while she or he sleeps (Monday, to the right - Tuesday, to the left etc.) can also help reduce the flattening effect of sleeping in one position.

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