What is Baby Head Shaping?
Do you wonder if your baby’s head shape is normal or somewhat flat?
Plagiocephaly and Brachycephaly are medical terms given to the condition of flatness in the shape of the head. Plagiocephaly is the name for flattening of the head in any of the four quadrants of the cranium (back, front, left, right). It is this condition that often results in asymmetry of the head and face as the ear, forehead and cheekbone on the flattened side of the head are pushed forward.
In Brachycephaly either the front or the back of the head lacks projection. This condition is not usually characterized by asymmetry of the ears and facial bones.
Caroline Rhodes is a Physiotherapist and Craniosacral therapist at The Body Group in Hong Kong and has over 30 years of experience in treating newborns for baby head shaping.
Registered users can book appointments for Baby Head Shaping in Hong Kong by phone or using our online booking system.REGISTERED USERS
See What Our Clients Are Saying
Our youngest son had colic. His older brother and sister were greatly helped by CranioSacral therapy and we wanted our youngest son to have the same opportunities. His head is now a beautiful shape. He is much calmer. I think the service provided by The Body Group is excellent. Although it was my son being treated , I came away from each session feeling calmer.JuliaHong Kong
After many days with cries, I took Christian to see Sarah & Caroline and after only one visit, he was a totally different boy, much happier and much less cries.P.L.,Hong Kong
My newborn baby was diagnosed for Torticollis and he also had very low bowel movements (once each 6 days). Caroline fixed it just in a couple of sessions and I can tell you that the baby is now 10 months old and his position is very straight. Regarding the bowel movements, he just started to improve once he started eating solids. I am very glad that my Doctor told me to go to The Body Group. I will certainly come back if I need to.Florencia,Hong Kong
Had a flat spot on the back right side of his head and favored sleeping only to one side. His head has changed shape and is not so noticeably flat. He now sleeps comfortably on both sides and also on his tummy. Extremely satisfied. It’s not easy working with such young babies who are unpredictable, but The Body Group staff were always very flexible.BrodyHong Kong
After a few sittings with Caroline, Jake already showed distinct improvements in flexing his neck and sleeping more comfortably. After more sessions, we started to see real improvements in the physical shape of his head. Through Caroline I began to learn much more about the condition and the additional complications that it could lead to if left untreated.B.F.Hong Kong
Caroline was fantastic. Jake is fine again and as a mother I’m very much relieved! Throughout the time of the treatments, Caroline kept in regular touch and provided additional advice and tips on everything from nutrition to maintaining the right balance in life. Caroline is one of those rare practitioners who makes her clients feel special and who really wants to improve the world around us.
What causes a misshapen head?
The following may be causes of an improper development of the head shape among infants:
- Prolonged lying on the back
- Misalignment of the body
- Delivery at birth
Misshapen heads have become markedly more common, since the introduction of the Back To Sleep Program designed to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). There has been a 40% decrease in SIDS since mothers have been taught to put their babies down to sleep on their backs rather than their stomachs. Unfortunately, however, prolonged lying on the back is one of the causes of children developing a misshapen head.
Torticollis is a condition in which spasms in the neck prevent the baby from turning his head equally in both directions. It may cause a child to favor looking either to the left or to the right. Torticollis should be corrected as soon as possible or the face and head of a child may not develop symmetrically. It is advisable to seek the assistance of a trained practitioner as early as possible for early assessment and prompt treatment.
There are a variety of causes misalignment of the body in infants. Common causes are relatively large babies born from a small maternal pelvis, or multiple infants (twins) leading to crowding in the womb. In the case of twins, one twin may be more compressed than the other in the womb. Sometimes a baby’s head may become stuck in its mother’s pelvis or under her ribs, restricting the infant’s movement. In one case that I assessed it was possible to see where the maternal ribs had pressed into the top of the baby’s head. When a baby’s pelvis is misaligned, the position of the head and neck will also be affected.
Given the softness of an infant’s bones, difficult or assisted deliveries may alter the alignment of a baby’s head and facial bones, particularly when instruments such as ventouse or forceps are used. Forceps can leave an impression on the bones of the head, and ventouse can cause elongation of the head. Sometimes misalignment will correct itself although this depends on the amount of force that had to be used in delivering the baby safely.
Mothers often assume that babys condition is somehow their fault, wrongly believing the way they hold their baby or wash his hair is responsible. This is certainly not the case. Neither is the condition hereditary.
In fact, it can actually result from a perfectly normal delivery. For example, one eye can be smaller and higher on the face; this is actually a facial slant caused by the facial bones dragging along the mothers tail bone. Just how prominent the facial slant is depends on the size of the head, the size of the mother’s pelvis and the position of her tailbones. Around 70% of facial slants occur on the left side, as most natural deliveries lead with this side. Often the bone on the back of head will also rotate, causing a less rounded skull.
Crying & Sucking
Crying and sucking both help to shape a babys head by contracting the connective tissue. If using a bottle to feed baby, make him work harder by using a slow flow teat.
Check Your Babys Alignment
Get a professional to check out your babys alignment a few weeks after the birth when the body and head have had a chance to stretch out and reshape. If this does not happen, have someone trained in working with infants check and treat any misalignment of the pelvis, spine or head. If you had a c-section with no complications and the head shape was perfect when your baby was born, arrange to see a therapist trained in head shaping if it suddenly starts to become flat.
All babies should have tummy time six times a day. This should be for as long as they can tolerate it, even if it is only for 30 seconds. This not only takes pressure off the back of the head, but also strengthens the neck muscles to help with reshaping the head. Many of the neck muscles are attached to the sides of the face and skull.
Head braces or helmets may be considered for children who have not had their misshapen head condition corrected during early infancy, when the condition is more easily and more effectively treated. Head braces or helmets are not fitted on children of less than eight months of age. The helmet is worn for about 9-12 months, 23 hours a day, and requires adjustments every six weeks or so.
- Alternate sleeping positions from back to side, to the other side.
- Do not let your baby stay in a car seat or stroller for long periods of time.
- If you bottle feed, alternate the sides on which you hold your baby.
When should I seek help?
Of course you are concerned about your child, so be proactive and seek help. A child does not outgrow the misshapen head condition, although it may improve slightly with time. When a child grows hair it is less noticeable, but the problem is still there, so the sooner you seek treatment, the better.
An infant has seven soft spots in his head, and there is a lot of movement between the skull bones. The first one starts to fuse after two months; this is the forehead, which is in two pieces in a baby. I have seen many children come in for head shaping between the ages of nine months and 30 months when it is already too late to achieve significant change. Some valid work can still be done at this age, but it can also be time consuming with a toddler who cannot lie still, so the treatment takes longer.
The earlier you seek treatment, the more effective it will be.
Now offering assessments via video chat
Caroline Rhodes, physiotherapist and craniosacral therapist has 30 years experience and has been treating newborns in Hong Kong for the past 16 years. As a result of parents seeking her help for their baby in connection with flat head syndrome, she is now offering assessments through either Skype or Facetime.
The parents will need to have a smart phone with a video so that they can show the different angles of the baby’s spine, head and face. Once the areas that are contributing to the flat head are determined, Caroline can teach the parent some gentle mobilisations to correct any restrictions. She will also offer a home exercise programme. This is an essential key in getting the baby to move in all directions rather than favouring one direction, which is a major factor leading to the flat head.
A treatment in the clinic can be arranged after the assessment whenever it is convenient for the parents to come to the clinic. The Skype or Facetime session will offer significant savings in both time and money for those parents coming in from other regions in Asia.
Physiotherapy for the treatment of flat head syndrome is often covered by medical insurance.
Results depend on the severity of the problem and the age when the baby begins treatment. If the treatment begins shortly after birth (or at the latest within the first 2 months), there is a good chance the baby’s head and face can be corrected to perfect symmetry. Between 2-5 months, there is at least an 80% chance of success. After 6 months it becomes challenging because some of the bones have closed and the baby is quite active or distracted making it difficult for him or her to lie still for the treatment.
If the treatment starts shortly after birth, many future issues, such as scoliosis or flat head syndrome can be resolved by correcting any misalignment in the pelvis, spine and head.
Caroline does not usually shape heads after the 7th month. However, in some cases, If she treats a baby at that age or older, she can correct any possible scoliosis in one session and make suggestions for the best possible outcome for other conditions.
Each session lasts about 50 minutes. The number of sessions needed depends on the baby’s age and the severity of the problem. A significant improvement is usually seen within eight sessions.
No, the beneficial effects of treatment will be permanent once any issues are corrected. If the child has a fall, or hits their head or falls on his/ her bottom, it is suggested they have a follow up as soon as possible to prevent future issues with their back.
No, in fact, it can be quite relaxing. Sometimes the baby cries because he or she may be hungry, tired or frightened. If the mother is nervous or anxious, the baby – who is in tune with the mother’s emotions – will also feel nervous or anxious.
Yes, after the assessment Caroline will give you some gentle exercises and head shaping massage techniques specifically for your baby’s condition. Advice can also be given as to how to hold the baby, together with tummy time, pillow and mattress suggestions.
Why did my doctor not tell me to do this, especially when I had voiced my concerns about my baby’s head being flat? I was told to wait, and now my baby is over a year old, and there is no change.
Spinal and head alignment can be overlooked and often when the baby grows hair, a problem with the shape of the head might not be noticeable. Also, doctors might not recommend this treatment if they have not studied how to mobilise the spine and cranial bones, or understand that the problems that can arise from the baby’s position in utero and during delivery might affect the baby’s alignment.
It is important to seek treatment as soon as possible after birth, or as soon as a problem becomes apparent.
Please refer to the very detailed article ‘Why Have My Baby’s Head Shaped?‘.