Hi, I’m Beth Ward, a Physical Therapist here at Cutting Edge Pediatric Therapy. Today I want to talk to you about two conditions that are commonly seen in newborns.
The first one is called torticollis, which is a condition that means your baby tilts his head to one side. A baby with torticollis may also have limited ability to rotate his neck to follow a visual or auditory stimulus from one side to the other. It decreases the range of motion they have in turning their head from side to side.
The other condition is plagiocephaly, which is a long name for what is commonly called “flat head syndrome.” This happens because, since the inception of the “Back to Sleep” program by the American Academy of Pediatricians in the early 90s, babies spend a lot of time on their backs. Not only are they spending a lot of time sleeping on their backs but they spend a lot of time in equipment such as swings, car seats, and baby bouncers, all of which they rest the backs of their heads against.
Why It’s Important To Address These Conditions
Lately, there has been a huge increase in the incidence of these two conditions. What I want to talk to you about today is what we can do to make sure those conditions don’t persist in your baby. It is important to address these conditions because a delay in the development of head control contributes to motor delays down the line.
Limit Time On Back
One of the most important things you can do is to limit the amount of time that babies spend on their backs. This means you should do tummy time even with a brand-new baby. Tummy time doesn’t have to be on the floor—it can be done with you holding the baby on your chest. They love this position because they love to look up at Mom or Dad! Tummy time can be done on a hard surface like the floor, but when you are working with a very young child you want to make sure that this position is interesting for them. You should get down on the floor with them so that you encourage them to lift their head to look at you.
Football Carry Position
You can also carry a baby in a football carry position, which is when you have them lay on your arm with your hand under their chest. This is sometimes easier for Dads to do because they tend to have better arm strength.
What To Do Next
These two conditions, torticollis and plagiocephaly, are common in infants and newborns, and the best thing you can do is to get some treatment for them as soon as possible. If you think you might see these conditions in your baby, or if you have any concerns, please bring it up with your pediatrician. You can also call either of our offices in Allen or Mansfield and we will be happy to have you and your baby come in for a free screening to determine if any further intervention is necessary.