A Canadian study released Monday said nearly half of 2- to 3-month-old babies develop some form of plagiocephaly, which is the flattening of an infant's skull caused by constant pressure against a surface. While most cases are mild, temporary and harmless, Yahoo News asked parents of young children to share their stories of plagiocephaly and how it affected their parenting choices. Here's one.
FIRST PERSON | Plagiocephaly? Do not feel bad if you can hardly pronounce this word. I could not either.
When my son's pediatrician mentioned the condition -- the medical term for flat spots on a baby's head -- I thought to myself, "Great, yet another label being put on children." However, when my son's doctor finished speaking to me, I was thankful for the information and made a few changes at home. At 35, even after giving birth to five children, I am still learning new things about babies.
As a parent, we would like to think that the decisions we make to protect our children actually keep them safe. Who knew the centralized bald spot on the back of my son's head was a potential sign of trouble? That bald spot was the direct result of the co-sleeper bed I purchased from a baby shop here in the St. Louis area, before my son, AJ, was born. The bed kept his head slightly elevated and prevented him from rolling over to his tummy.
In my quest to protect my son from SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), I had unknowingly exposed him to plagiocephaly. Flat spots occur when your newborn lies in one position for too long without moving. Because my son's head was being held in one spot, he developed a bald spot, while the rest of his hair grew like vines. Thankfully, this was a clue that let my son's doctor know we needed to talk.
The doctor told me the safest way for my baby to sleep was simple: Lay him down on his back in his bassinet with only one light blanket. SIDS is more often caused because of unnecessary items in the crib, causing it to become unsafe for babies without head control. She explained co-sleeper beds designed like the one I purchased also raises the risk of suffocation for a baby without head control. Babies are supposed to move; it helps prevent conditions like plagiocephaly.
Sometimes, as parents, we get so eager to protect our children that we tend to overlook common sense. I hope my story helps other parents save money on unnecessary baby resources, those manufactured solely on scare tactics. AJ is now 9 months old, and sleeps in a crib, safely at our bedside, so if he wakes up to nurse, he is only a couple of steps away. His bald spot is nearly completely gone, along with my concerns about SIDS and plagiocephaly.
While prevention is important when keeping your child safe, do the plastic bubble test. If what you are doing is the equivalent of putting your child in one, scale back.