Traditional newborn bathing customs - Newborn care.. Traditional newborn bathing customs - Newborn care.
It's very common for a newborn’s head to be elongated or have an odd shape. Babies' skull bones are soft and easily moulded to help them squeeze through the birth canal during a vaginal delivery.
The gentle pressure that birth puts on your newborn's skull may have resulted in his head looking cone-shaped or elongated. This cone shape will naturally even out after a few days but a baby’s head remains quite soft until both the fontanelles have closed.
The fontanelle at the back of your baby’s head closes at 6 weeks, and the one at the top of your baby’s head usually closes by 18 months. As long as your baby’s head still has soft spots, always lying in the same position can affect its shape. But this is unlikely and uncommon, because babies can turn their heads and sit up by about 6 months.
Their ability to sit up and move their heads takes the pressure off their skull during the day, and helps the head to become naturally rounded on its own. This is why babies heads are usually rounded by the time they are 6 months old.
So your baby’s head is more likely to be misshapen in the first four months, because at this age your baby cannot sit up or hold his head up well on his own. If your baby always sleeps in the same position, his head might flatten out where he sleeps on it. If you put him to sleep on his back, because it's the safest way for him to sleep, his head might become flat at the back of his head. If on the other hand, your baby sleeps with his head to one side, his head might flatten out on that side.
Despite popular belief, there is no proof to suggest that applying pressure on your baby's head during a massage will make it round. This may do more harm than good if too much pressure is applied.
Some mothers use a horseshoe-shaped pillow in the hope that it will help make their baby’s head round. On the contrary, a horseshoe-shaped pillow will keep your baby’s head always in the same position and so might make it more likely to become flat at the back. Even when your baby is old enough to move his head on his own, the horseshoe-shaped pillow will prevent him from turning his head from side to side and keep his head in always the same position.
In some households traditional rai-filled pillows are used. If you choose to use a pillow of any kind, do be cautious because a tear in them may cause the stuffing to come out and pose a choking hazard for your baby.
Try the following to help get your baby’s head round:
Encourage your baby to lie on his side when possible. This is best when he is sleeping in the day under your supervision or if he is wide awake or in his pram. Always keep an eye on your baby when he is lying on his side to be sure nothing happens to obstruct his nose and prevent him from breathing properly.
Try changing the position of his toys (or something he loves to look at) from one side of his cot to the other. Or you could try placing black and white pictures on the side of his cot that he doesn’t usually face. This way, when he is awake and lying down, he will turn his head the other way to look at the pictures.
Cut the amount of time your baby spends in an infant carrier or car seat, where his head is in one position.
Try to do tummy time when your baby is a newborn and put him on his front as often as you can when he’s awake. Tummy time reduces the chance of your baby developing a flat spot on his head from spending too much time on his back. The longer he is on his tummy, the less pressure there is on his skull. Starting this habit from the day he’s born will help your baby get used to tummy time so he can learn to enjoy the position. See our tummy time video to know the best and safest ways to do tummy time with your baby!
Carry your baby on alternate shoulders while on the go. Some mums prefer to use a sling and keep changing the position of their baby’s head.
Make sure your baby's head isn't always in the same feeding position. This might put him in the habit of always lying or dozing off to sleep in that position.
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