What Is Positional Plagiocephaly & Positional Torticollis?
Did you know March 20th is National Plagiocephaly & Torticollis Awareness Day? Here is some information about these two common conditions, their impact on baby’s development, and how you can help prevent them.
What is positional plagiocephaly and positional torticollis?
Positional plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome, is when a baby develops a flattening on the back or side of the head. If left untreated, babies with plagiocephaly may develop vision problems and asymmetries of the head and face.
Positional torticollis occurs when the muscles in baby’s neck become stiff or tight, which causes baby’s head to tilt to one side. This condition sometimes affects a baby’s posture causing them to favor one side of their body. You can see the story of one little boy who was diagnosed with positional torticollis and how therapy helped here:
Both of these conditions can develop when a baby spends too much time on their back or in infant equipment such as swings, car seats, etc. when awake.
How can I prevent positional plagiocephaly and positional torticollis?
Tips to help prevent infants from developing these conditions:
- Change baby’s sleeping position. Try placing baby to sleep in one direction on even days and the opposite direction on odd days.
- Make sure baby gets plenty of Tummy Time when awake. This helps build an infant’s neck, shoulder, and core muscles. Have you started Tummy Time yet?
- Move baby’s mobile to different ends of the crib to encourage looking in different directions.
- Limit the time baby spends in swings and carriers, and avoid leaving baby in one position for long periods of time.
How can I check for positional plagiocephaly and positional torticollis?
Look at baby’s head after bath time when their hair is wet. Check for:
- Roundness in the back of baby’s head
- Ears that are even on both sides
- Baby’s posture is straight when lying or sitting
- Baby looking in all directions and does not favor one side
What are the treatments for positional plagiocephaly and positional torticollis?
Treatments may include physical therapy or occupational therapy, or possibly a corrective helmet to help reshape the infant’s head. Call your healthcare provider and set up an appointment for a further evaluation if you have concerns about your baby’s development.