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Support for Babies Uncomfortable on their Backs

Last week I had a Mum in with her baby who told me about a sleep positioner she had used to help her baby sleep safely on her side, as she was so uncomfortable on her back.

We get lots of babies in the practice with this problem and occasionally recommend sleeping a baby on it’s side, during the day, when they have difficulty or discomfort sleeping on their back. This is usually apparent by a baby fully rotating their head to one side whilst sleeping on their back.

Another issue can be if an infant has tension on one side of their neck and/or flattening on one side of the cranium. This will cause them to continue to sleep on that side, as that is where gravity will pull them. Sleeping them safely supported on their side may help reduce the severity of a positional flat spot. Side sleeping may also be useful in preventing Flat Head Syndrome (Positional Plagiochephaly).

There is much that we as physical therapists can do to help release this tension, including stretches that can be taught for parents to do at home.

If this is something that concerns you about your baby, why not give us a call for a free informal chat, or to book an appointment, we may be able to help.

http://www.babyreflux.co.uk/bebecal-baby-sleep-positioner

Jeni

Flat Head Syndrome – Plagiocephaly part 1

Since April I have been working closely with Martin Bell from Technology in Motion. Martin has a regular clinic at The Berkeley Centre where he assesses and treats babies with plagiocephaly using helmets to correct the asymmetry. I thought I would take this opportunity to share the things I’ve learnt over the past few months. In this first post I’ll talk a little about the different types of head shapes we see in young babies.

What is plagiocephaly?

Plagiocephaly refers to a diagonal asymmetry of the head. This means that when viewed from above, the head takes the shape of a parallelogram with the ear and forehead on the flattened side being pushed forwards (as in the picture below). Most cases are termed positional plagiocephaly, hinting at the origin of the flattening being the position the baby spends most time in.

Brachycephaly is a central flattening of the back of the head, causing the head to become wider side to side and shorter from front to back. The average person’s head is approximately 80% as wide as it is long. Severe brachycephaly may result in a head that is wider than it is long.

In practice, many babies we see have a combination of both plagio- and brachycephaly. All of our practitioners at The Courtyard Osteopaths have been trained in accurately measuring babies’ heads in order to diagnose the type and severity of the asymmetry.

Will this affect the way my baby’s brain develops?

Plagiocephaly and brachycephaly both involve shape changes in response to external forces, but the overall volume of the skull remains normal, meaning the brain still has plenty of room to develop normally. Some scientific studies have hinted at problems in later life such as visual disturbances or a higher occurrence of ear infections, but the majority of research suggests that the only effect is cosmetic.

A much rarer form of head shape deformity is caused when one or more of the sutures (joints) in the skull is fused, known as craniosynostosis. This is a more serious condition as it may affect brain development and often requires surgery to correct. It is usually picked up in the hospital straight after birth, so we see very few babies with this.

What other effects might plagiocephaly have?

From an osteopath’s point of view, we often find that babies start to form a flat spot on one side because of underlying muscle tension on one side of their neck. This may have been caused by the position they were in in the womb, a traumatic birth, or something that has occurred since. The muscle tension means that the baby prefers to turn his or her head one way and therefore spends more time with pressure on that side of the head. Once a flat spot forms, baby’s head is forced to rest on that side, maintaining and exacerbating the neck tension.

Babies can be in some discomfort from the tight muscles (you all know what a pain in the neck feels like!). In addition to this, many of the muscles in the neck are linked to the jaw; an imbalance in jaw position may contribute to feeding problems and digestive difficulties such as trapped wind and constipation.

There is much that we as therapists can do to help release this tension, including stretches that can be taught for parents to do at home.

I’ll talk more in part two about what can be done to prevent a flat spot from forming, as well as what to do if your baby does have plagio- or brachycephaly.

- Sam

Best Nappy Changing Technique for New Borns to Reduce Colic

Best Nappy Changing Technique for New Borns to Reduce Colic. Could 99% of those who change diapers be doing it wrong? It is dumbfounding to learn that by pulling a babies legs up with one hand it can be causing nerve interference leading to colic in infants. Written By: Doc John Edwards, DC Read more >>

Posture tips for mums … part 3

Posture tips for mums … part 3

Lifting
- Off the floor: stand close to your child and, keeping your back straight, drop into a one-leg kneel. Grasp your child with both arms and hold him or her close to your body. Tighten your tummy muscles (pull your belly button towards your spine) and slowly lift using your legs. Reverse this when putting your child onto the floor Read more >>

Posture tips for mums… part 2

Posture tips for mums… part 2

Carrying
- Try not to slouch or ‘collapse’ your spine, keep your back and neck straight and shoulders pulled back
- Always hold your child close to your body
- Try to carry your child in the centre of your body Read more >>

Slings and Carriers for Babies

Slings and Carriers for Babies

There’s a fair bit of conflicting information about these around so i’ll try and put the important points down here, if you have any specific questions, do feel free to contact us us. Read more >>

Posture tips for mums… part 1

Posture tips for mums… part 1

There is a lot to consider here as there are so many activities for new and seasoned mums to consider, Therefore I will be rolling this information out over the next few weeks Read more >>

Tongue Tie

We such a lot of babies with feeding issues I thought it would be a good idea to do a post about this as its International Breastfeeding Week. Its hard to keep things short sometimes….

Tongue-tie is when the baby’s tongue is tethered to the bottom of the mouth causing difficulty sticking its tongue out beyond the gum or in milder cases beyond the lower lip. Some babies with this can breastfeed perfectly, others have difficulty and a few also have difficulty bottle-feeding. Read more >>

Support for difficult babies

Support for difficult babies

At the practice, we regularly treat babies who have developed all sorts of difficulties within the first few weeks of birth.

In last few weeks we’ve seen a couple of really troubled babies who had particularly deliveries, requiring intervention and also needing follow up care in Special Care Baby Unit and a longer stay in hospital. Read more >>