Updated: Aug 23
Plagiocephaly is the flattening of a baby’s head on one side of the head or the whole back of the head. This develops when an infant’s soft skull becomes flattened in a specific area. It can get worse if a baby sleeps in the same position most of the time or because of mobility challenges with the neck muscles that result in a head-turning preference. Plagiocephaly is sometimes called “flat head syndrome.” Plagiocephaly can start to develop when babies are in the womb if they are stuck in an abnormal position and their head is tightly pressed against the uterus. This risk is higher with twins or multiples who have even less room in the womb.
Birth intervention, such as the use of forceps or vacuum during delivery, has been associated with an increased incidence of head shape abnormalities, including plagiocephaly, in infants.
While the more prominent component of plagiocephaly is the flattening of the head and facial asymmetry, the limited range of motion and subluxation is really the underlying issue.
Plagiocephaly itself shouldn’t be painful for babies. The risk is that they will struggle to hit their developmental milestones due to the underlying issues with gross motor function, subluxation, torticollis, and so forth.
Additionally, kids with unresolved plagiocephaly will be more susceptible to ear infections and other respiratory infections since the subluxations and motion restrictions limit the body’s ability to drain fluid from the ears and move mucus through the respiratory and lymphatic systems.
Torticollis in an infant is a stiff, stuck, and twisted neck where the child’s head is continually bent to one side, making it difficult to turn and rotate their head and neck in both directions.
While more significant cases are easy to spot by both parents and providers, it’s been our experience that most cases of torticollis are easily overlooked and missed by standard pediatricians. Additionally, too often, parents are told to just “watch and wait” and that they’ll “grow out of it” over time.
The most common form of torticollis is acquired, and the most common cause is birth trauma. The amount of physical strain, tension, and pulling placed on a baby’s head and neck during birth interventions such as forceps delivery, vacuum extraction, and C-section is significant and many times leaves the child with a significant subluxation that then contributes to the torticollis.
Parents routinely report that when they put Pediatric Chiropractic as the foundation and first choice for their child’s torticollis, it then makes all the physical therapy stretches and positioning work easier and far more effective!
Developmental milestones are significant physical and behavioral signs or markers of optimal development in infants and young children. Things like holding their head up, tummy time, sitting up, rolling over, crawling, walking, and talking provide important information about how your child’s development is progressing.
Each child develops at their own pace, but we can use these developmental age markers to help find out when things are really getting off track, or trouble may be brewing.
Things we watch the closest for are:
Struggles to turn their head side to side, latch, swallow, digest, and nurse
Favors just one side with their head and neck, frequently appearing “stuck” in one direction over the other, or has a flat spot on their head that remains
Frequently stiffens their head and neck, arches back, and cries
Is not pooping easily many times per day
Still struggles to eat, move their head and neck side to side, arch, and cry, etc.
Handles tummy time well, pushing up and raising their head and neck comfortably
Smiles, interacts, begins to babble and imitate sounds
Starts using hand and eyes in coordination and with some intent
unable to support their own weight in assisted standing or sitting
head lags backward when trying a pull-to-sit test
Struggles to poop daily and/or gets frequently congested
From then on anything you see on this list below would be a strong sign that getting your child checked by a trained Pediatric Chiropractor specializing in neurodevelopment would be a good idea:
Frequently stiffens, arches, cranks head, and neck, bangs their head and cries
Can’t stand tummy time, can’t sit or stand on their own by 12 months or so
Skips crawling altogether or goes through it very quickly to standing in a stiff and tense manner
Struggles consistently with sleep, digestion, and immune function
Spends far more time crying and looking distressed than making eye contact, smiling, interacting, babbling, imitating sounds, engaging, etc.
A tongue tie, also known as ankyloglossia, is a condition that affects some newborns where the strip of tissue that anchors the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short, restricting movement and function of the tongue. This can make it difficult for a baby to breastfeed effectively, as they may be unable to properly latch and nurse effectively.
Some babies with a tongue tie have difficulty opening their mouth wide enough to effectively latch and breastfeed, leading to difficulties such as:
Have difficulty attaching to the breast or staying attached for a full feed
Be unsettled and seem to be hungry all the time
Not gain weight as quickly as they should
Make a “clicking” sound during feeding
Many of the signs and symptoms of a tongue tie mirror those of general colic and neuro-gastric distress in a child, so your child’s provider must be able to delineate between the two and, most importantly, what the root cause is of your child’s nursing and sleep challenges.
Since breastfeeding is a two-way street and a true neuromuscular connection between mom and baby, a baby’s tongue tie can lead to these challenges for mom as well:
Sore or cracked nipples
Low milk supply
Since breastfeeding and all of the nutritional, neurological, and emotional development that comes with it is vital to both short and long-term health for children, most parents elect to have a tongue-tie revision surgery done by a pediatric holistic dentist.
If the tongue tie is surgically released without consideration of subluxation and sympathetic dominant neurology likely at play, and a Pediatric Chiropractor is not first consulted… things could be made worse initially instead of better after the surgery resulting in the need for additional revisions within a few months.