Baby Gear And Sleep Positions Often To Blame

New research reveals that almost half of babies that were screened have flat spots on their heads. How can parents prevent it from happening?

Baby in a car seat

Recent Canadian research showed that nearly half of the babies in the study presented with flat spots on their heads. The study, which was one of the first ones to address how common the problem really is, looked at over 400 infants who were around 2 months old and discovered that 46.6 percent had some form of plagiocephaly -- otherwise known as flat spots on the head.

Flat spots 101

Flat spots on the head that are caused by position are called positional plagiocephaly, and if not caught early on and treated, can lead to changes in facial features that can become permanent. Many experts have blamed the upswing on how babies sleep -- since the Back to Sleep Campaign began in hopes of reducing SIDS deaths, most babies now slumber on their backs. Since a baby’s head is proportionately large and her neck is weak, the head often settles on one side or another. Over time, if the baby sleeps the same way, a flat spot can develop.

Car seat quandary

Another cause is the overuse of baby gear. Modern parents have the option to use bucket-style car seats for their little ones, and these also often double as a baby carrier when the parents are out and about.

The problem begins when parents let their child sleep in the car seat for extended lengths of time. For example, you run to the store and your baby falls asleep, and instead of taking him out to sleep elsewhere, you let him sleep for several hours in the car seat. When this becomes a habit, the soft bones of the skull can begin to flatten on the back or the sides.

Prevention

Experts still suggest that parents make sure that babies sleep on their backs, but to try to alternate to which side the head leans each night. Also, instead of relying on baby gear, such as car seats, bouncy seats and infant swings, you might consider wearing your baby in a quality baby carrier as you go about your business. You might even find that you leave the car seat snapped in its base in your vehicle at all times and prefer to pop him in your Ergo instead of trying to haul around the car seat.

More on baby gear

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Earth Day 2013: Celebrate by greening up your baby gear
Baby gear to make Mom's life easier

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