Today I am pleased to welcome guest blogger Irene Collado. Irene is eager to share one simple trick for preventing a flat spot on your baby’s head, plus she is excited to share about a campaign she is launching to help parents and caregivers prevent flat spots once and for all!
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Did you know that nearly half of newborns develop a flat spot on their head by their second month?
Even if most cases are mild, this is unacceptable. Especially when so much focus is put on the “Back to Sleep” campaign which has made flat spots more prevalent. What makes this figure even more alarming is that flat spots can largely be prevented through simple techniques such as regularly rotating a newborn’s head each time he or she sleeps.
My name is Irene Collado. I’m the co-founder of Turn Your Baby, a nurse, and the mother of two boys (1.5 and 6). When my youngest, Lucas, was diagnosed with flat head syndrome (positional plagiocephaly) last year, I was told his case was “borderline.” In other words, it was up to me if I wanted to put a helmet on him, because his flat spot would eventually go away (not necessarily completely and after God-knows-how-long). As much as it pained me to go with the helmet, I felt it was a better option than just waiting and hoping for an uncertain outcome.
But I’m not here to write about baby helmets, because I totally understand that many parents in the same situation I was in decide not to use one (especially now that a recent study finds helmets ineffective).
What I’m here to talk about is how to avoid flat spots in the first place so parents don’t have to deal with this difficult decision.
To be clear, not all flat spots can be prevented, particularly those caused in the womb or due to muscular irregularities in a baby’s neck (torticollis). And not all flat spots are benign and simply go away with time. This is why it’s always best to have a specialist inspect your baby’s flat spot as soon as you notice one because some types of flat spots are more serious than others.
The type of flat spot I want to focus on here is medically referred to as positional plagiocephaly. As the name suggests, a major factor in causing (and as it turns out, avoiding) this type of flat spot is a baby’s positioning.
News flash: newborns have soft skulls.
We’d all like to believe we have the awareness and attentiveness to prevent flat spots from developing. But it’s not that easy. While there are great techniques for avoiding flat spots in the course of daily activities like breastfeeding, holding and “tummy time,” the biggest threat to soft infant skulls is sleep time, when a baby’s head is in contact with a firm surface for long periods of time.
As most parents know, the AAP strongly recommends parents put their babies to sleep on their backs on firm surfaces to prevent SIDS (this is widely known as the “Back to Sleep” campaign). What often gets overlooked, however, is that these “back to sleep” instructions are incomplete without also stressing the need to “turn your baby.” Basic physics dictates that constantly putting a baby to sleep on his or her back on a firm surface will cause a flat spot to develop on the back of the baby’s head. But this flat spot can be minimized or completely avoided by rotating the baby’s head each time he or she sleeps, so that pressure on the baby’s head is spread evenly across the sides and back instead of just concentrated in one area.
When I first learned about this “turn your baby” instruction, I was frustrated because it was too late (in my case). My frustration quickly grew into problem-solving and a desire to help others avoid the same frustration. I kept thinking, even if I knew about it, I would’ve had a hard time remembering. After all, in order to rotate Lucas’s head each time he slept, I would’ve had to remember in what head position he slept previously. And we all know parents with newborns are always tired (especially with other children to care for), and tired people easily forget simple things. So I envisioned a simple device to help parents follow this simple but largely overlooked prevention technique.
That’s how and why Turn Your Baby was born – to help parents remember to “turn your baby” each time he or she sleeps. Our device consists of three light-up buttons, one for each suggested head position (back-left, back-center, back-right). When you put your baby to sleep, you press the button corresponding to the head position in which your baby is sleeping and it lights up. So the next time you put your baby down to sleep (however many hours later), you’ll notice the button that’s lit-up and you’ll be reminded to choose a different head position the next time. It’s that easy! In addition to the reminder device, we also plan to launch a nationwide advocacy campaign to shine more light on preventing flat head syndrome.
Championing our efforts is Dr. Chad Perlyn, the pediatric plastic surgeon who treated Lucas. He has long believed that more focus needs to be put on preventing flat spots instead of waiting for them to develop and then treating them. As soon as I showed him my idea, he jumped on board with incredible enthusiasm. That’s when I knew I was onto something!
To make this vision a reality, we launched a crowdfunding campaign on IndieGoGo to raise funds for the advocacy campaign and to pre-sell the reminder device.
IndieGoGo is one of the largest crowdfunding sites on the internet, and Turn Your Baby is currently their top trending health campaign. But we’re still only half-way to our goal of raising $20,000, so we need your help. We’ve already begun development and have preliminary mechanical and electrical design specifications. But we need the additional funds to get the device ready for mass production, hopefully here in the US. Our current estimate is to have our first batch ready by May.
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Irene Collado is a nurse who currently works as a Clinic Practice Manager in Miami. She has always loved helping others in any way she can. She loves to do yoga and spend as much time with her husband and kids as possible.
Learn more about Turn Your Baby HERE.