Molding occurs in early infancy when your baby’s skull is still soft and pliable. This was advantageous for passage through the birth canal, but now outside of the womb, the weight of your infant’s brain on their soft skull can cause soft spots on their head. This can be caused if infants lie on their back in one position for too long or if they spend extended amounts of time in car seats or carriers. The American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend that infants be placed on their back while sleeping to help prevent the occurrence of SIDS, so what can be done to help prevent positional molding?
Rotate Sleeping Position
Though your baby should be placed on their back while sleeping, you can rotate the direction in which you lay your baby down as babies will sometimes turn their heads away from the wall when they sleep. This will avoid pressure being placed on the same spot every time they sleep.
Tummy time is an important part of every baby’s routine. Not only does it help increase abdominal and neck strength, it will also help to keep pressure off of their skull. Before your baby is old enough for tummy time, you should also consider increasing the amount of time that pressure is off their skull. When young infants are held close to your chest, the pressure is at a minimum. Also, as they develop, they will begin to lift their head from your chest to attempt to make eye-contact. This action helps to strengthen their neck muscles to prepare them for tummy time.
If minor molding of the head develops, repositioning should effectively correct the problem about 80% of the time. In some cases, however, doctors recommend corrective helmets to treat particularly stubborn flat spots. Helmet therapy usually corrects any problem within 6 months time and isn’t particularly uncomfortable or painful. The helmet helps release the pressure from the problem area on your child’s head which helps remold the shape of the head as your infant grows.