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Talking to your pediatrician about head flattening

When you notice flattening at the back of your child’s head it can feel somewhat

alarming. For some parents, it seems like it happened almost overnight. So if you

notice flattening, what should you do about it.

Here is a list of important questions to ask your child’s healthcare provider if you

notice flattening to get the conversation started.

#1: How severe is my baby’s flattening?

If you notice flattening at the back of babies head, if you catch it early enough the

treatment protocol may be as simple as repositioning your baby throughout the

day. If the flattening is moderate or severe, helmet therapy might be necessary.

This is why understanding the severity of the plagiocephaly or head flattening is an

important question to ask.

#2: Is plagiocephaly something that you treat?

Different pediatricians have different opinions about whether or not treating

plagiocephaly is necessary. While some take a “wait and see” approach, others are

more proactive in their treatment plans. Knowing which type of doctor your child’s

pediatrician is helps you develop a plan for your baby.

#3: Is repositioning a good option for my baby?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends repositioning as the first

line of defense even before you notice any flattening of your baby’s head. In order

to avoid flattening, putting baby down in different positions and facing different

directions is key. If you have already noticed a flat spot it is possible for

repositioning to be a solution if the flattening is minor. Talk to your child’s doctor

about whether this is a viable option for your baby.

#4: How do you recommend treating plagiocephaly?

To treat or not to treat has become something that varies from practitioner to

practitioner. As a parent, it’s important to know how your pediatrician feels about

treatment to make sure you are on the same page. Despite the AAP Guidelines

recommendation to use cranial remolding or helmet therapy in cases of moderate

to severe flattening, many clinicians still opt not to treat until flattening has reached

a severe enough form to cause facial or ear shifting. Be open and honest with your

child’s doctor and you can get the information you need to make decisions about

your baby’s care.

#5: How do you treat babies who need helmet therapy?

One final and very important question to ask your child’s doctor is to ask about

what they do when a baby does need cranial remolding therapy. Do they refer

patients to an orthotics clinic for helmets? Do they send patients to a surgeon for a

referral? Can they create a helmet in their office?

Understanding their process can help you prepare for what might be in your

family’s future.

The more information you have about your baby’s care, the more informed

decisions you can make about their care. You only want the best for your baby so

talking to your pediatrician and sharing your concerns is a great way to make sure

your baby has the best outcomes possible.

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