Placing babies on their backs to sleep can decrease the risk of SIDS. However, some babies who sleep on their backs develop flat spots on the backs of their heads.
This does not affect brain development, but the flat spot can develop over several weeks and become permanent over time. This is often called Flat Head.
By alternating the way you position your baby in the crib or infant seat, you can help to prevent flat head. For example, one day place your baby with his head pointing toward the headboard of the crib; the next day, place him with his head pointing toward the footboard of the crib. Babies can turn their heads and will do this, especially if they have something interesting to look at, like a brightly-coloured toy or mobile. Make sure you place it close enough for your baby to see—about 10 to 15 inches away.
The other way to help prevent flat head is to be sure to give your baby some tummy time several times every day while your baby is awake. Tummy time not only takes the pressure off the back of your baby’s head it also helps the muscles in your baby’s neck, to develop further. You can do this in a variety of ways
- Lay on your back and place your awake baby on your chest;
- Place a blanket on the floor and place your baby on their tummy – you can even lay beside them and talk or sing to them;
- If you have an exercise or birth ball you can rest your baby tummy-side down on the ball, hold the baby in this position and gently move the ball.
Some babies may not like being on their tummy, listen to your baby’s cues and try again at another time. Begin with short periods of time at first and gradually increase the amount of time they are on their tummy.