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Your Adorable New Baby Probably Has A Big Flat Head From Sleeping On Its Back

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il_570xN.208336186Thank you our best frenemy SCIENCE for giving us another study which I am so not sure about due to my own experience with babies and their cute little baby heads. According to USA Today, a new study has discovered that 47 percent of babies have flat spots on their head due to sleeping on their backs. My babies all slept on their backs, well, at least until they could roll over and reposition themselves, and I never noticed a flat spot and my doctor never mentioned it so maybe I was just lucky and never had any flat-head babies.

An education campaign launched in 1992 to have healthy babies sleep on their backs is credited with a 50% decrease in the infant mortality rate in the U.S. from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. But along with the decline has come greater awareness of a condition called positional plagiocephaly, in which an infant’s head is flattened or misshapen, from too much time in the back position in the first months of life. Other studies have put the rate of positional plagiocephaly (pronounced pley-jee-uh-SEF-uh-lee) anywhere from 3% to 61%. A new, large sample of 440 healthy infants finds 47% of babies ages 7 to 12 weeks had the condition.

This condition isn’t serious , and are “generally benign, reversible” anomalies that do not require surgical intervention.” More severe cases may require physical therapy and a skull reshaping helmet. The article suggests a lot of waking hour tummy time, carrying your baby with its head on your holder, and repositioning its crib so it changes positions on its own in order to look at things like doors and windows. Doctors still suggest you place the baby to sleep on its back to reduce the likelihood of SIDS.

Now whenever I encounter a baby I’m going to be looking at its tiny little baby head to see if it has this flat spot issue. Maybe my kids did have flat spots but I never noticed it, or maybe it was because I was always so found of sticking them in those little hats with ears. No matter what science says, I think we can all agree that hats with ears on babies is pretty much the cutest thing ever. I think we should conduct our own study showing the percentages of ooh’s and awww’s we witness when encountering babies in cute little hats.

(Image: ETSY)

24 Comments

  1. Blueathena623

    July 8, 2013 at 11:58 am

    My kid never slept enough to get a flat spot.

    • Eve Vawter

      July 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      hahahahahah word

  2. DMH

    July 8, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Yeah. My son hasn’t slept on his back since he was about a month and a half old. I wish he did. Caused my husband and me many sleepless nights because we kept getting up to check on him.

  3. SusannahJoy

    July 8, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Is having a flat spot really a big deal? Somehow I doubt that those “severe cases” that require physical therapy are the result from sleeping. My baby’s 2 months old and he still sleeps in his rock n’ play thing, which I dont think would give him a flat spot anyway.

    • Emmali Lucia

      July 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm

      I know right? And even if you have a flat spot on the back of your head I think that:

      Misshapen skull > Death

  4. Rachel Sea

    July 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    I notice a lot of babies with flat spots on the back of their heads. I see it in older kids too. It’s really noticeable on boys with super short hair. From the front they look normal, and then in profile the back of their skull barely protrudes farther than their neck.

  5. SDA

    July 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Yeah, I read this somewhere else earlier and people were commenting blaming poor moms for daring to use a stroller, bouncy, or swing instead of wearing and cooing at their child 24/7. I used all of those things along with wearing and tummy time and if there was ever a flat spot no one ever told me and I never saw it. If it is benign and reversible in most of those cases why even write on it?

    • SDA

      July 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Not you, I mean the original write-up…

    • Eve Vawter

      July 9, 2013 at 6:54 am

      Oh sure, they all loooooove to blame the moms, and if it isn’t flat headed babies then moms who do carry the babies around all day are called “too attached” and all that

    • Eve

      July 10, 2013 at 12:48 pm

      I don’t like baby wearing very much. We do so when necessary but I admit I didn’t do it too much just around the house or grocery shopping like a lot of people do when she was really young.

  6. Chloe

    July 8, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    If it is severe enough, the baby has to wear a helmet. Kind of takes away from their cuteness.

    • MammaSweetpea

      July 8, 2013 at 7:47 pm

      Not if you put ears on the helmet 🙂

    • Kaitlyn Catherine

      July 8, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      No it doesn’t dickwad

    • Pookie

      July 9, 2013 at 6:14 am

      Nice, do you use that language around your kid? Grow up, you have a baby to take care of.

    • DMH

      July 9, 2013 at 9:21 am

      Nice mastodon you’re on. Must be scary being up there so high!

    • Justine

      July 9, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Yeah, yeah,,,,good one

  7. Sarah

    July 8, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    My four-month old totally has a big ol’ flat spot on the back of his skull. He got it really early on. Not sure exactly what you can do, though. They’re supposed to sleep on their back. His doctor says it will go away in time. He’s rolling over both ways now and I’ve noticed he prefers sleeping on his side so I can’t imagine it’ll be an issue much longer (not that it was ever much of an issue).

    • Ligeia

      July 9, 2013 at 2:44 am

      My son had a flat spot for 4 months as well. Like SDA mentioned above, we were told to skip the evil bouncer and have him sitting supported in our laps and/or a highchair (well-padded) or for short periods each day to have his head “free” and strengthen his neck and core. Repositioning him in his sleep didn’t really work, he preferred turning his head to one side no matter what we did.

      Now he’s a couple of days shy of 6 months with no flat spot. I can’t say that our efforts to mitigate the flattening did it, rather that once he started getting mobile he chose to spend very little time on his back.

    • Sarah

      July 9, 2013 at 8:17 am

      My kid practically lived in his bouncer. It was the only place he would nap or sleep for more than an hour or so. Again, his doctor seemed unconcerned. I read the “evils” of bouncers, but decided against heeding that particular advice. The bouncer was the best and most useful piece of baby equipment we owned.

      One day a few weeks ago he decided he hates it. Lol.

  8. Courtney Lynn

    July 8, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    My son’s head is slightly flatter in the back. My husband’s is, too (common among some Native Americans anyway, which they both are) so he really just looks like Daddy. No biggie. They tried to get me to get him a helmet and I refused because he’s totally fine and gorgeous as he is. Plus, he has a shitload of hair so you can’t even tell.

  9. Kaitlyn Catherine

    July 8, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    >:( Fuck you mommyish, My baby has to wear a helmet.

    • Eve Vawter

      July 9, 2013 at 6:53 am

      Ummm, no one said anything is wrong with that

    • Cupritte

      July 9, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Kaitlyn,
      I am sorry that you felt offended at this article. I know that is can be really difficult to have a kid with a helmet, and am positive that your child is absolutely adorable with or without a helmet.

      I read another article months ago which I hope you might find encouraging.
      http://offbeatfamilies.com/2010/05/infant-torticollis

  10. Cupritte

    July 9, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I have a good friend who has a baby with a flat spot that is severe enough for a helmet, and one of the kids in our swim class had one too. The mom blaming thing on this is ridiculous of course, it just seems like some kids are prone to it because of tight neck muscles or any number of things. I will say from seeing these kiddos that it is quite noticeable when the case is severe enough. I hope that if these cases are increasing the cost of those helmets goes down, right now they cost several thousand dollars.

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