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  • 'I Don't Want My Baby To Have A Flat Head. Do Those Special Pillows Work?'

    Are pillows that claim to help prevent babies developing a flat a good investment?
    by Rachel Perez .
'I Don't Want My Baby To Have A Flat Head. Do Those Special Pillows Work?'
PHOTO BY iStock
  • You’ve probably met at least one person who has a flat side on their head. It’s not really that obvious unless you feel it with your hand, but it’s a big concern for parents. We all want a round-shaped head, like we see in the movies. 

    According to safe sleep specialist Ria Lopez Campos in our very first episode of How Po? webinar series, pillows that claim to prevent flat head syndrome or plagiocephaly do not actually work.

    “A pillow does not form the head,” Lopez Campos stressed. "Our head shape is also, I think, natural," she added. (Click here to read more about the flat head syndrome.)

    Why some babies have flat parts on their heads

    Some infants’ heads are shaped like a conehead due to being pushed down the birth canal. But it’s not usually a cause for concern. Newborns’ heads have soft spots called fontanelles, which allow for your baby’s rapid brain development in the first year of life. 

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    These soft spots also help you to gently massage your little one’s head to eliminate the conehead shape. But the same soft spots can lead to flat spots on your baby’s head if he’s always lying on his back or side. 

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    “If your child truly has a flat head, ida-diagnose po 'yan ng pediatrician ninyo,” Lopez Campos says. If the shape of your baby’s head interferes with his development, your pediatrician will recommend a helmet specially made for your child and not a pillow.

    There is a more pressing reason not to let your baby use a pillow. Infants have yet to develop neck and head control. That’s why we always support their necks when carrying them. 

    “If you put a baby down on a pillow, their head will sink, and then they cannot move their head,” Lopez Campos explains. “If they turn their head like this, they are not strong enough to pull up, so this will be a cause for suffocation. It’s an unnecessary risk,” Lopez Campos added. (Click here for safe sleep guidelines.)

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    What you can do to prevent flat areas in your child’s head

    It’s normal to be concerned about the shape of your baby’s head. It's in the same category as whether your baby’s hair will thicken or your little one’s eyelashes will grow longer.

    But having your little one sleep on a pillow is not the solution. Usually, flat spots in the head are due to lying down in bed or a car seat for long periods of the day. “Kailangan maging proactive ang parents,” Lopez Campos advises. 

    1. Carry your child often, so his head isn't always on the bed. Tour your little one around the house so he can see other angles or views different than the one from his crib.
    2. Tummy time can prevent babies from having flat areas in the head. It also strengthens the baby’s upper-body muscles that don’t get used when your baby is lying down on his back.
    3. During playtime, allow your baby to turn from one side or another. “Put some toys on the one side para they’ll look, and then after five minutes, put the toy on the other side para they’ll turn their head,” Lopez Campos suggested. 
    4. Alternate breastfeeding and bottle-feeding sides, so your little one isn’t just lying on one side.  

    If you don't want your baby to have flat areas on the head, there is no one shortcut or solution like a magic pillow.

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