With around 80% of cranial growth occurring in the first 12 months of a baby’s life, treatment is most effective within that time. There are two main treatments for plagiocephaly: repositioning and corrective helmets.
Favoured by GPs and health visitors, repositioning works on the theory that by moving the baby’s head from one side to the other you will reduce the external pressure to one area and encourage the head to round out on its own. Repositioning is only really effective if the baby is not suffering from torticollis, so it may be necessary to carry out physiotherapy to allow full range of movement in the neck.
Repositioning can take several forms, from using a rolled-up towel to prevent the baby from resting its head on the flat spot to placing all objects of interest on the opposite side of the cot to encourage the baby to look that way. Encouraging the baby to spend as much time as possible on its tummy will also reduce the external pressure on the skull and help to strengthen the neck muscles.
From birth to 12 months, a SleepCurve mattress – specifically designed to alleviate and even prevent plagiocephaly – can be beneficial.
Lightweight helmets are designed to allow the baby’s head to round out. They are individually moulded to the baby’s exact head shape and are worn for 23 hours a day. The helmet fits snugly to the unaffected area and leaves space around the flat spot so that any growth is channelled into the area which needs to ‘round out’. This non-invasive treatment is generally available for babies aged between four and 24 months, and the indications are that, while it may take a few days to adapt to wearing the helmet, most babies are entirely unaffected by it. Helmets do not restrict head growth or affect brain development, and regular check-ups enable new measurements to be taken and any consequent adjustments to be made.
Treatment times vary depending on the age of the baby, the speed with which they grow and the severity of the condition. In general, however, most babies will complete their treatment in around six months.
Funding treatment and fundraising
Find out how you can start raising funds for your baby’s treatment with our fundraising guidelines and tips. If you need inspiration or are interested in how others have successfully raised money for their babies’ treatment, visit our fundraising case studies page.
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