By Jo Yiannakis
Since 1992, the ‘Back to Sleep’ campaign has encouraged and advised parents about the benefit of placing infants on their back to sleep, instead laying infants on their stomach, as there is a high risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). As a result of this campaign ‘flat spots’ on the skull of infants has dramatically increased by 600%.
This condition is known as plagiocephaly and is characterised by a flat spot on one side of the baby’s skull. It is primarily a cosmetic disorder which can be managed by physiotherapy.
There are many reasons and risk factors as to why these ‘flat spots’ occur on the skull – the main reason being lack of tummy time or continuous positioning of baby on their back or tightness in the muscles of the neck.
Early management is important as the skull is still growing and shaping. Education regarding positioning of your baby and stretching of the tight muscles in the neck will help in the management of this condition.
Children with plagiocephaly have also been reported as being less active and having delayed overall motor development as they grow, hence why treatment is important.
Paediatric physiotherapists can provide tailored assessment and treatment for the tight muscles in the neck, and help advise and educate on how to take pressure off the flat spot.
Tummy time is one of the many ways in which you can help your baby reduce pressure on their skull, whilst promoting normal development. The current recommendations are for babies to spend up to 30 minutes a day (broken up throughout the day) on their tummy.