Torticollis is relatively common in newborns.
Torticollis, left untreated (sometimes even with treatment) may cause an infant to develop Deformational Plagiocephaly.
What does Torticollis look like?
It can be present at birth or take up to 3 months to develop.
Signs & Symptoms – A baby with Torticollis might:
• tilt the head in one direction (this can be difficult to see in very young infants)
• prefers looking at you over one shoulder instead of turning to follow you with his or her eyes
• if breastfed, has difficulty breastfeeding on one side
• works hard to turn toward you and gets frustrated when unable turn his or her head completely
If you think your baby might have torticollis, ask your doctor to perform a physical examination on your baby, which involves seeing how far your baby can turn his or her head. If a diagnosis is made, the doctor might teach you neck stretching exercises to practice with your baby at home. In certain cases, the doctor may suggest taking your baby to a physical therapist for more intensive treatment.
Treatment at Home
The best way to treat Torticollis is to encourage your baby to turn his or her head in both directions. This will help to loosen tense neck muscles and tighten the loose ones. Rest assured that babies cannot hurt themselves by turning their heads on their own.
“Tummy Time” – BACK TO SLEEP – TUMMY TO PLAY
Laying your baby on the stomach for brief periods while awake (known as “tummy time”) is an important exercise because it helps strengthen neck and shoulder muscles and prepares your baby for crawling.This exercise is especially useful for a baby with Torticollis and a flat head – and can actually help treat both problems at once.
Here’s how to do it:
Lay your baby on your lap for tummy time. Position your baby so that his or her head is turned away from you. Talk or sing to your baby and encourage him or her to turn and face you. Practice this exercise for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, several times a day. Finally, if you find that your baby’s Torticollis is not improving with stretching, or you notice his Positional Plagiocephaly worsening, talk to your doctor.