The birth of your child is one of the most exciting times in your life. Often it can be quite scary for new parents to notice a change or abnormality to their baby’s head shape. Although this can be quite worrying, it is important to note that it is common for a newborn baby to have abnormalities to their head shape.
Did you know that an adult human skull is composed of 22 bones? A newborn baby has double this amount! This is due to the fact many of these bones become fused together as the baby ages and develops. A child's head shape is typically determined by six years of age.
When your baby is born, the skull is required to be malleable to make sure that your baby can safely fit through the pelvic cavity. An unfused skull also makes sure that there is adequate room for your baby’s brain to grow as they develop.
Plagiocephaly, also known as misshapen head is a condition in infants which is used to describe an abnormality in head shape but can also include an abnormal position of the ears, forehead and face. This is mainly caused by abnormal or prolonged pressures on the infant skull, often during the time in the womb, during the birth or during development. This condition, however, has been known to be associated with other conditions such as tight neck muscles, infant hip issues as well as foot development issues.
Since the mid 90’s there has been an increase in the number of baby’s with plagiocephaly. This is mostly due to the introduction of the Back to Sleep program to reduce the number of Sudden Infant Death cases. Whilst this has reduced the number of sudden infant deaths in a dramatic way, parents are becoming more and more apprehensive about placing their child on their bellies during wake times.
Tummy time is one of the most beneficial forms of play for an infant. This position allows your baby to see the world in a new way for brain development, helps develop head, neck and back control as well as reduce the pressure on your baby’s skull. There are so many ways in which you can help your baby enjoy and play in this position.
There are times, however, where your baby’s misshapen head is due to something more concerning and it is often best to follow up with a Paediatric Physiotherapist to exclude these issues.
Come in to Ballarat Allied Health for a consultation with our Physiotherapist, Emily Izard, for some great tips to manage your baby’s head shape, assess for any associated conditions as well as provide you with some great positions for developmental play.
Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and is used for educational purposes only. If you are having pain or health related complaints, please seek out a licensed healthcare professional.