Bethany - posted on 12/17/2008 ( 2 moms have responded )
Ok...for those of you who don't know... my son, Eric, showed signs of a stiff neck when I took him to his 4 month baby visit so my dr referred us to physio. When we went...about 3 weeks ago...they said that he did have stiff neck and a flat spot on the right side of his head. (Which I hadn't really noticed...have you seen how much hair he has?!?)
His was very mild (thank God!) but it can be quite serious as it can cause his ears to move out of alignment and cause facial deformities! Also, if it's not treated early it can result in the baby having to wear a helmet for 23 hours a day to straighten things out! So, PLEASE, keep an eye out for flat spots!
The physiotherapists recommended the following:
~ more tummy time (Eric hated it so I rarely did it) they recommended at each diaper change- which I found very inconvenient since I'm usually changing his diaper on the way out or right before a nap...but anyway- it might be a useful guideline for someone else. Just doing it at all was a big step for us.
~ limiting the amount of time in his car seat. She originally said only in the car but I was really resistant to this because I LOVED my carrier. She did say that it was ok to use the seat for a quick trip in the stroller or if he fell asleep in the car and moving him to his crib would wake him up that it was ok to leave him for an hour or so. (to clarify- using a stroller by itself is fine because he is not strapped in as tight and is able to move his head around more)
~ in general, limiting the amount of time he spent with his head flat against something- including a bouncy seat.
[On a side note: she also gave me a pamphlet which said not to use jolly jumpers, bumbo seats or exersaucers- if you want me to share the specifics on any of those- just ask]
We went for a follow up today and things were MUCH better! She was amazed at how far he had come in just three weeks. This was such an encouragement to me because I was so devastated and demoralised after our last visit. They track his gross motor development along the same type of scale as height and weight and last time he was way below the 50% and now he is above it!
What I learned for this whole experience:
I thought that I was a really hands-on mom before...I didn't throw Eric in his car seat for hours on end or leave him in his crib or playpen all day! But over the past few weeks we have spent time actually making tummy time more fun and practicing sitting up and rolling over. I still use the car seat when it really makes my life easier...but for times when it really doesn't matter I leave it in the car...I figure it's kind of like banking car seat hours that I can use later when I need them!
I really wanted to let Eric progress at his own rate and not be one of THOSE moms who rushes her kids to the next step but I think that practicing those things has been good for him and being able to sit up is going to help his head smooth out a lot...so if I have to rush him a bit now I can ease off later! For example- I'm ok if he doesn't crawl for another 6 months or so! haha! and don't even talk to me about walking!
One more piece of advice- watch what your babies do with their heads. If they tend to favour one side over the other when they are sleeping or in their car seats try to encourage them to switch back and forth- you can try placing them at the other end of their cribs or using sleep positioners if they are still small enough. Eric constantly flips his head back and forth when he sleeps so I knew that the car seat was our culprit. If he does fall asleep in the car I try to wedge a blanket or toy or something on the right side (like I did when he was a newborn) to prop it up a little straighter.
If you suspect anything like this I definitely recommend talking to your doctor about a physio referral...like everything, it is sooo much better if caught early and although it has been a really stressful few weeks in the end it was worth it! (PS if your dr doesn't check his head and neck at your next appt I would ask them to!)
This has gotten really long so if anyone has any questions just post them and I will share my "wealth of knowledge"! haha!