Sometimes parents of newborn babies have questions about for example, the preferably position of the baby’s head, while lying. A child physiotherapist can help!
The cause of flat baby head
In recent years, babies have been sleeping on their backs to avoid cot death. This is often the reason for problems in realizing the preferred lying position of the head, as well as a flat head. Babies find it difficult to lie on their tummies; they often start to cry. If babies don’t lie on their tummies often enough, they may find problems later in life developing their motor skills development.
Useful information, prior to the first appointment
The child physiotherapist will visit the baby at home. Before examining the baby, he/she needs to note some basic information. This is not only for administrative purposes, but also to collect background information about the baby’s health.
Please have the baby’s insurance card ready as well as the referral letter from the doctor. Currently, all children in The Netherlands under the age of 18 years old, are entitled to 18 physiotherapy sessions. All fees are covered by the basic insurance and in some cases an additional 8-9 sessions, which are offered in several extra insurance packages. Usually this number of treatments is sufficient in case of difficulties referring to the right position of the baby’s head, while lying.
Once the administration is complete, the baby will be examined, preferably on a table with a blanket on it. You will be asked to remove the baby’s clothes and place the baby on the blanket.
The child physiotherapist will examine the muscles on both sides of the neck, the clavicle bones, the hips, as well as he/she examines the way in which the baby turns its head. Once done, the child physiotherapist can exclude underlying factors that could have caused the problems the baby has, referring to the position of its head while lying. The baby will also be placed on its tummy.
After the examination, the child physiotherapist will discuss the results with the parents and exercises in order to stimulate the head to turn towards the ‘preferred lying position’, will be given.
It is important to remember that during the next few weeks the baby’s head is turned only on “the correct side’ (‘in the right position’. (Do not worry about the baby’s head turning out flat while lying on ‘the right side’!)
At first, the child physiotherapist will visit the client once a week, during a period of 4 to 6 weeks. In case of improvement, the visits will take place once every 2 to 3 weeks. During the first 4 weeks, the playpen (box), the bed and the position in which the baby is lying, in the daytime will be checked. Its’ position at night will also be discussed. The child physiotherapist will also give advice about how to dress the baby, the best way of taking him/her out, and the baby’s progress and development will be discussed.
Furthermore, the extent of the flat head will be measured. While doing this, the child physiotherapist will use a rubber band which earlier has been put in boiled water. Then, the child physiotherapist will take the rubber band and dry it. Before placing it over (around) the baby’s head, he/she will make sure the rubber band has cooled down. Following, the position of the nose and ears will be pointed out. The rubber band will now be carefully removed from the baby’s head.
Based on the results of the measuring of the baby’s head, we make some calculations. This method is called ‘plagiocephalometry’ and was created by a Dutch physiotherapist D.R.Vlimmeren.
The values are: 100-104% for a head with hardly any flattening, 104-108% for a mild flattening and 108-112% for a serious flattening. If a 5-month old baby has a flattening of more than 112%, we advise a course of action which involves the baby wearing a helmet.
Usually by the time a baby is 5-6 months old, the problems involving the preferred lying position condition have disappeared. The baby’s head will be measured for the last time. At that point the child physiotherapist will be able to see if the head will form itself in a correct way.
Can we help you?
Do you have any questions after reading this article, do not hesistate to contact us by e-mail or phone. We are willing to help you.