For the last nearly twenty years, doctors have been encouraging parents to have babies sleep in their backs to reduce the incidences of sudden infant death syndrome—but now doctors report that we are seeing more cases of babies developing irregular head shapes.
The most common head shape irregularity is a flattened section in the back of the skull, which can be linked directly to the 1994 Back to Sleep campaign to fight SIDS—a campaign that was very successful, according to Dr. Sherilyn Driscoll, director of pediatric rehabilitation medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Head shape asymmetry, also known as plagiocephaly, can be corrected, but it must be addressed typically well before a baby is a year old—while the baby’s skull is still growing and before the skull bones have fused and the soft spots have closed. Parents can then concentrate on getting the babies to spend more supervised time on their tummies and showing them toys and getting them to move their heads from side to side. If those aren’t effective, helmeting therapy can also be used, usually when a baby is between 4 and 6 months old.