Tamille Phillips, BSc. (Hons), B. Ost

Cranial Osteopath, Paediatric Osteopath & Nutritional Wellness Practitioner in Worcestershire

07712 936883

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Free Basic Baby Advice

Noticing Baby's Stiff Neck (Torticollis)

If your baby appears to have:

  • a very strong neck for their age
  • the ability to roll on their side as a newborn
  • reduced or stiff neck movements
  • a preferred side to turn their head
  • a preferred side to feed from
  • their head typically to one side while asleep
  • their head tilted to one side in the car seat
they may have torticollis.

Noticing Flat Head Syndrome (Bradycephaly or Plagiocephaly)

If your baby is developing:

  • a flat spot at the back of the head
  • a flat spot on one side of the head
  • some asymmetrical bulging on their forehead
  • facial asymmetry
these are signs of developing flat head syndrome (Bradycephaly or Plagiocephaly).

I recommend you consult a paediatric osteopath if your baby shows signs of the above.

Other advice includes:

  • Hydrotherapy bath for babies.
  • Purchasing a Lovenest pillow.
  • Encourage your baby to look towards their non-preferred direction WITHOUT forcing it. This can be achieved by drawing their attention using yourself, your voice or putting toys on their non-preferred side in there cot, on the changing mat, in their car seat, on their play mat.
  • Using neck stretching exercise prescribed by your paediatric Osteopath.
  • Changing your preferred side can help.
    Holding them over your non-preferred shoulder or in your opposite arm to bottle feed or to breast feed on the non-preferred breast can also help. Babies may also follow the teat of their bottle gently towards their non-preferred side.
  • Always ensure a sufficient level of head support for young babies when picking them up or changing their position.
    Allowing their heads to fall backwards can cause a strain to the neck.
  • Tummy time is still important but if they appear to be in distress stop the tummy time immediately. I recommend parents lie on the floor with their baby and lift their heads in the same way they baby does during tummy time. If your neck is getting tired and you want to stop your baby will want to stop too!

Baby hydrotherapy bathing

What you will need:

Instructions:

Pre-warm the bathroom and towel.
Place the foam support and thermometer in the bath.
Fill the bath with enough warm water (a few inches deep, 38℃ maximum) so the baby's neck, shoulders and around the back of their neck would be submerged.
Gently lower baby onto bath support in bath.
Water can safely go into the baby's ears, but closely supervise the hydrotherapy to ensure the baby does not submerge their nose or mouth, if they turn their head from side to side.
Do not add bubble bath or oils to the bath.

Alternatively,

Mum or dad can have a relaxing hot bath first (with no bubbles or soap).
Wait until the water gets to 38℃ then have baby passed to you in the bath.
Supporting baby's neck & shoulders float them so the neck, back & shoulders are submerged; keeping their face dry.

Hydrotherapy should be ended:

  • after 5 minutes
  • if the temperature decreases below 36℃
  • if baby is no longer enjoying the bath
whichever comes first.

Retrieve the baby from the bath (ensuring sufficient head and neck support) into the pre-warmed towel.

This procedure of hydrotherapy can be used daily assuming the baby's skin is not too dry.
If there are signs of dryness reduce the number of baths per week.

This hydrotherapy is designed to help relax the muscles of the neck shoulders and upper back of babies who have signs of: A stiff, sore neck (torticollis), a preferred head turn or neck movement restriction or head flattening (plagiocephaly or Bradycephaly).

If your baby is showing signs of head flattening (flat head syndrome, plagiocephaly or bradychephally ) or neck movement problems (torticollis), I would also recommend purchasing a Lovenest pillow., consulting a paediatric osteopath or physiotherapist & reading Advice for parents of babies with a stiff neck (torticollis), or flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly or bradycehpaly)

Neck stretch for babies diagnosed with Torticollis, Bradycephaly or Plagiocephaly.

This side bending stretch is to be used daily, once each side as prescribed by Tamille Phillips Paediatric & Cranial Osteopath.

Description to stretch muscles in left side of baby's neck.
(This stretch is ideal if you're breastfeeding as you can do the stretch after they've fallen asleep at the breast & come off the nipple after a feed).
Otherwise, sit down holding your sleeping or relaxed baby in a cradle hold, with their head on your left side. Baby should be tummy to tummy with you.

***Optional: Roll your own shoulders back & down to ease your own shoulder tension.***

Adjust the cradle hold so your right arm is supporting along their upper back.
Then lowering your left arm & hand towards your lap, slide your left arm along your baby's back, past their shoulder until your left hand has got your baby's right ear flat in the palm of your left hand.
Gently and slowly lower your left arm & hand towards the ground (with a slight arc of movement of the hand to mirror the arc of movement of the baby's neck side bending).

Allow the baby's head to rest in a side-bend stretch for the time it takes you to do 4-5 slow deep breaths in then out, (roughly 30-45 seconds).

After completing the stretch, slowly bring the baby's head back to the midline.

***Optional: Gently do your own neck stretch forwards (chin to chest) or side-bending (ear to shoulder) to ease your own neck & shoulder tension***

Congratulations, you have successfully helped eased some of your baby's neck & shoulder tension (***& some of your own too***)!

Note: NEVER PUSH UP the other way to stretch the other side of the baby's neck.
Swap the cradle hold side to stretch other side of the baby's neck.

Aim to do the neck stretch once on each side daily.
Or up to 3 times each side, at separate times of the day.

Advice for breast feeding problems

Pumping breast milk is a good option to maintain & boost your breast milk supply if your baby is struggling to latch & feed.
This difficulty could be because further support from a breast feeding support worker or lactation consultant is needed to perfect latching technique.
Breast feeding pillows can help support a comfortable position.
Sometimes assessment of a suspected tongue tie by a tongue tie practitioner is warranted (especially if the tongue appears heart shaped at the tip when the tongue protrudes or if overlapping signs & symptoms of baby reflux are present).
There can be other causes too, so do not hesitate to contact your primary healthcare practitioner (e.g. health visitor, GP or a paediatric cranial osteopath) or visit www.laleche.org.uk for breast feeding advice.

Time is of the essence to maintain a breastfeeding relationship & support the supply & demand aspect of breast milk production.

If you know you are being induced before full term (40 weeks) or are having an elective Caesarean Section you could speak with your midwife &/or obstetrician about beginning to harvest your colostrum & begin getting your mammary glands prepped for milk production. I hear so frequently from mothers who's 'milk was delayed coming in' because of an early delivery or a C-section.

I highly recommend the following:

(before leaving the hospital if possible)

  • Get as much skin to skin as early as possible, especially near the nipples & breasts.
  • Put baby to the breast as soon as possible 'nose to nipple' or as instructed by your breast feeding support worker.
  • Get as much breast feeding technique support early on from the breast feeding support workers.
  • Ask for your baby to be assessed for tongue tie by a tongue tie practitioner - who has been properly trained to detect anterior & posterior tongue ties, (not just a midwife who hasn't been trained).
  • If your baby is having feeding problems, prefers to feed from one breast, preferentially turns their head to one side or sleeps with their head turned to one side regularly.
    Or appears to have an excessively 'strong neck' or exceptionally good 'head control' for their age they could have torticollis.
    Torticollis is one factor that can contribute to developing flat head syndrome (plagiocephaly or bradycephaly).
    Often I see babies referred to a paediatric cranial osteopath by a tongue tie practitioner or health visitor with tense neck & jaw muscles linked with torticollis & flat head syndrome that have also struggled to latch & feed.
    Please do not hesitate to contact me for advice or see more of my free baby advice above.

    Warning:

    Tamille Phillips Paediatric & Cranial Osteopath does not recommend parents try to diagnose or treat infant or child conditions without first consulting with their primary care practitioner.

    Advise, exercises or recommendations are those given to existing patients attending osteopathic appointments with Tamille Phillips Paediatric & Cranial Osteopath, after a thorough case history & physical examination assessment has been carried out.
    FREE Osteopathic telephone consultations are available with Tamille on request.


    Please be aware that all Information and statements made on this site are for educational purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of your healthcare professional. Tamille Phillips Paediatric & Cranial Osteopath does not recommend parents try to diagnose or treat infant or child conditions without first consulting with their primary care practitioner. Free Osteopathic telephone consultations are available with Tamille on request. Advice, exercises or recommendations are those given to existing patients attending osteopathic appointments with Tamille Phillips Paediatric & Cranial Osteopath, after a thorough case history & physical examination assessment has been carried out. All Nutritional recommendations are natural products that may assist the mind or body in its efforts to rebuild and heal itself. This advice is given to existing patients attending Osteopathic appointments with Tamille Phillips Paediatric & Cranial Osteopath, after a thorough case history & physical examination assessment has been carried out. All products purchased and used without first consulting a primary care practitioner are used solely at the purchaser's risk. As explicit instructions to seek primary medical healthcare advice beforehand has been given.

    © Tamille Phillips Cranial Osteopath Worcester 2019