When is it too late to fix flat head?
Flat head occurs in babies in the early months or during birth.
The bones are soft, and depending on the position the baby lays in, the structure of the skull may change.
Lying on the back, with the head flat on a surface is why flat head syndrome often occurs.
The reason is that when lying on the back, pressure is applied to the back of the head.
As their bones and muscles are not strong enough to enable them to crawl or walk, lying on their back is the only option for them in the first few months.
Thankfully, the change in the skull poses no physical pain or threat to the baby.
It is just a shift in shape, and the soft bones can be repositioned by following some simple tricks and tips.
Even if you spot the flat head late, it’s probably not too late to fix it.
There are plenty of ways to treat and prevent flat head syndrome, all of which can be performed at home without the assistance of a specialist.
Join us as we take a closer look at when is it too late to fix flat head.
When Is It Too Late To Fix Flat Head?
Flat head syndrome, also known as positional plagiocephaly, is common in infants.
It is completely harmless for the baby and not a serious physical issue, nor should it be labeled a defect.
Flat head usually occurs when the babies are on their back, the preferred sleeping position recommended by doctors to prevent the risk of death from SIDS.
Moving on to the main question, when is it too late to fix a flat head?
According to doctors, after 14 months, treatments don’t work because the skull hardens.
The skull bones and muscles are not soft anymore, making it impossible to reposition the shape of the head.
If you notice the flat head at a late stage, making repositioning and other techniques highly challenging to perform, there is no need to worry.
A flat head is barely noticeable and will start to fix itself as the child gets older as they will stop laying back all of the time.
As the baby is not on the back 24/7, the head begins to change, reverting to its original shape, slowly but surely.
Also, hairs hide the flat head, making it impossible to detect.
At a glance, between the age of 3 months to 9 months is the best time for treatment to fix the flat head.
The bones are still soft and with regular and proper exercise, the baby’s head will go back to normal.
What Causes A Flat Head?
The most common reason for the flat head syndrome is when a baby is on the back, with the head placed on a flat, hard surface.
A baby’s skull is very delicate. The bones are not fully developed and are soft.
The skull’s shape may change depending on the position the baby is in, for example, on the back or the side.
If too much pressure is being applied to that one area, it may change the shape of the head.
Imagine placing a water balloon on a hard surface. Will it retain its shape? Of course not.
The same is with a baby’s head if it is kept in a single position on a flat surface for long periods.
The repeated pressure applied to the back of the head is the cause of the flat head syndrome.
A few other common reasons for a deformed head are:
- During pregnancy, if the baby is positioned in a way applying pressure to the head
- A family inherited disorder
- Lack of space for the baby because they are larger or if there are twins, having their heads pressed together
- Muscular torticollis
- The sleeping position of the baby should be straight. The baby shouldn’t be sleeping on the side, as this increases the risk of the flat head syndrome
Treatments for Flat Head Syndrome
There are plenty of treatments you can do to fix your child’s flat head. All of these are simple steps and can be performed at home.
We usually do it almost every day with our children unknowingly.
With the correct knowledge and increase in awareness, the flat head syndrome can be treated efficiently.
Here are a few flat head syndrome prevention techniques you can do at home to help correct the shape of the skull.
1. Tummy time – Instead of laying down on the back, position the baby on its tummy. For comfort, put your baby on the mattress, or if you are on the ground, use a blanket.
Don’t leave your child unattended, just lay down with the baby and play with them. Tummy time can be very important for babies.
2. Holding time – Carry and roam with your baby as much as possible, avoiding as much back lying position as possible. Babies love to be carried around.
3. Sleeping position – Check on the baby’s sleeping position. Being soft, cuddly, and flexible, babies adopt various sleeping positions.
To parents, they look adorable, but an incorrect sleeping position usually leads to the formation of a flat head.
You can also buy special flathead pillows which can help.
4. Head movement – Baby accessories such as cribs and rocking chairs are on the rise. Everyone wants to buy one.
They are great to take care of your baby, especially if you are busy, and contribute to the baby’s development and growth.
The disadvantage is if a baby spends a considerable amount of time in the crib or a rocking chair, it restricts head movement.
The baby continuously stares and plays with the hanging toys. So, work on the child’s head movement, reposition the toys, and limit the time spent on baby accessories.
The bottom line is you should spend as much time with your baby as possible.
Parents avoid holding their child as they believe the baby will develop a bad habit and constantly cry to be picked up and carried around.
All of this is true, but you only need to spend a few minutes.
Do Corrective Helmets Fix Flat Heads?
The new technology for treating flat head syndrome in babies has proven to be an effective method but is a difficult choice for parents.
No parent wants to see their child wearing a boxing-type helmet. It also gives a visual impression that there is something seriously wrong.
For some parents, making their child go through the helmet treatment has been a tough decision.
Depending on the severity of the head, the baby may have to wear it for days, weeks, or even months.
Thankfully, it is not painful or irritating for the baby. There have been some mixed reviews on using corrective helmets to address the problem of flat head syndrome.
Some parents are satisfied with the result and swore the treatment went very well.
Others say that they prefer to rely on the above-said methods. The overall outcome without and with the corrective helmets are the same.
However, many parents say that the corrective helmet has resulted in numerous side effects such as skin irritation and sweating.
Does Flat Head Syndrome Go Away?
The first question that every parent asks is, when does flat head syndrome go away?
If you’re worried about when is it too late to fix flat head, then you probably shouldn’t.
If your baby has a flat head, there is no need to panic. The flat head syndrome is common in newborn babies.
Some babies are born with it due to labor complications, and for some, it develops over time.
It usually takes a few weeks or a couple of months to correct it. By the age of two, when the bones are fully developed, the flat head is barely noticeable.
Consult with your family doctor and follow along with the treatments mentioned above.
The head will return to its original shape. It may not be perfect, and there may be some slight differences.
It is best to start the procedure in the first few months while the bones are still soft.
As the baby grows older, the skull begins to form, and it becomes harder to reposition the head.
If the flat head syndrome turns out to be severe that cannot be fixed by simple at-home treatments, then doctors may recommend the use of a corrective helmet.
The flat head syndrome is common in most newborn babies. It is nothing to worry about, nor is it harmful to the baby.
There are numerous reasons for the change in shape, usually during labor, lack of space in the womb, family inherited disorder, lack of head movement, and sleeping position.
All of these can be correct with simple home treatments, usually involving the baby spending less time on their back, so that the pressure is not applied to the head and various other head movement activities.
It is best to perform the flat head syndrome treatment during the first few months because the bones are soft, and the head returns to its former shape.
After the first couple of months you don’t see any considerable change, consult a doctor.
If you’re worried about when is it too late to fix flat head then your baby may require the use of a corrective helmet, or the doctor may advise some other treatments.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you correct a flat head at 2 years old?
It usually takes about 18 months for a baby’s skull to fully develop, after which rectifying the shape of the head may not be attainable.
However, there is no need to worry as flat head syndrome usually improves with time and becomes barely noticeable.
Taking the necessary treatment before during the first year is advised.
When should I be concerned about a flat head?
If you notice that your baby has a flat head, you should be concerned.
Even though it is harmless for the child and will improve as time goes by, it does not mean that you should not do anything at all.
It is your duty as a parent to make sure that your child is getting the correct treatment.
Consult a specialist, buy the pillow to treat the flat head syndrome, carry out routine exercises as suggested, and after every 15 minutes, change your baby’s position.
Can the flat head be corrected after 12 months?
The best time to correct flat head syndrome is in the first year. After 14 months, the bones develop, and it becomes difficult to restore the shape of the head.
It may be possible to correct it after 12 months, but it is best to consult a doctor.
Many say that the best age for treatment is between 4 and 12 months, as the bones can be pressed into shape.
Iesha is a loving mother of 2 beautiful children. She’s an active parent who enjoys indoor and outdoor adventures with her family. Her mission is to share practical and realistic parenting advice to help the parenting community becoming stronger.
The Mothers Community is a place to connect with women who are at a similar stages in life–from fertility, pregnancy and motherhood through to menopause.
Join a community who are there to listen, share information and offer valuable advice. Join Community
Take matters into your own hands! Expert advice for Fertility, Pregnancy and Motherhood! Discover More Here