Baby's Flat Head Is a Sign of My First Mommy Fail


baby in helmetBefore my babies were born, I took an infant care class where they warned us not to leave our babies in their car seats or bouncers too much or they could wind up with flat spots on the backs of their heads (plagiocephaly, in medical speak). They explained that it could distort their facial features and even slow down their physical development, and in severe cases, a baby might need to wear a helmet for several months. Of course, at the time, I thought, "I'd never let that happen! No, sir, my babies are going to be doing tummy time, all the time."

Flash forward several months, and there I am at the physical therapist's office, discussing my twin baby's flat head and the other baby's stiff neck.  And as she's explaining to me that they need more tummy time and shouldn't be spending so much time in their car seats, all I can think about is how I've already failed as a Mommy.

Of course, it goes without saying, that doing some stretches and repositioning with my babies is really no big deal -- that should be the worst thing that ever happens to them. Still, I really, really, really don't want my one boy to have to wear a helmet for four months. It's totally, absolutely, a vanity thing for me because he's not going to know any better. And according to the physical therapist, fixing the flat head is mostly done for cosmetic reasons anyway, so if the repositioning doesn't work, you decide what is the lesser of two evils -- a helmet on your baby for a few months or a distorted head shape (and possibly facial features) for life.

Anyway, I know that it's common and for now, we'll be shifting their heads around and doing exercises and seeing the PT once a month. But, I can't shake the feeling that I should have done better by my babies. I knew that they were spending too much time in their car seats, but when I'm alone with them and they're both hungry, that's really the only way to feed them. They don't sleep very well in their cribs during the day, so I've been putting them in their car seats or their swings where they conk out for a couple of hours. All along though, I've known that I needed to break them of the bad habit, but I kept thinking, "Well, they're still so young. It's important that they sleep. One thing at a time. I'm doing the best I can. I have twins." Now, I wonder if all of that was just excuses for lazy parenting.

I know, I know, maybe I'm being a drama queen -- have I mentioned that I'm sleep deprived? But how do I not blame myself when I knew better? All my babies need from me is to take care of them, and I feel like I've already let them down by not doing the things that I knew I was supposed to do.

Then again, it feels like there are a million things you're "supposed to do" and somehow, most of us Moms never seem to have enough time and energy to do all of them. I mean, I sometimes eat string cheese for lunch because I can't seem to get it together enough to make a sandwich. At the end of the day, even the Moms who seem to totally have it together -- whose babies sleep through the night, and take scheduled naps, and spend all day on their tummies -- must be making mistakes sometimes too, right?

As guilty as I feel, I'm trying to remind myself, for the bajillionth time, that I'm doing the best I can. I read articles on infant cues and development, contradictions and all, and try to let my maternal instincts guide me. More important, I love them and I snuggle them and I sing to them and they are thriving. I know that somewhere in their little developing hearts and minds, my baby boys know their Mommy loves them and is devoted to them. I think that, at the end of the day, the kind of love I have for them must make up for my mistakes.

Have you had moments where you felt like you failed your baby?

Image via Wondermonkey2k/Flickr

baby development, twins & more, play


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Rachel Schiller

My baby was born with plagiocelphaly, he had a stiff neck and was side-ways stuck in my pelvis for many weeks. He was so stuck that he couldn't rotate and fit through my pelvis during labor. Not all plagiocephaly is caused by the parent's being lazy.

That being said- my older boys have issues with their ears and both have tubes. My middle one had tubes and his adenoids out at 2.5 because he couldn't hear and had apnea. He had apnea since birth and I ignored the signs and when it all came together I felt horrible. I know there was nothing I could do but I still felt like a failure for letting it go on for that long. My baby was working so hard to breath at night that he was tiny (kind of funny, after his surgery he shot up like a weed).

nonmember avatar Emily

This post makes me very sad because it shows the horrible guilt that we moms with plagio kids have. It is not your fault that your child has plagio. It is jot the result of lazy parenting. My daughter had plagio and had a helmet for three months. She could have cared less. Yes I had to deal with my own issues but I am a better mom now because of it.

Also it isn't just for cosmetic reasons. Plagio can lead to jaw and eyesight problems. Honestly, if he qualifies get the helmet and continue to do the exercises for the tort. There needs to be way more awareness about this issue.

Again, it is not your fault. And the helmets can be really cute.

chell... chellyelizabeth

I knew this was a possibility and my son HATED tummy time he would just squish his face into the floor and scream. He also had reflux and pretty much slept in a swing until he tried crawling out of it one day when he woke up. His head never had issues, but now that I'm pregnant with twins and had planned on doing what you are (putting them in their seats or swings or boppys or whatever it took to feed them) I'm worried again! I hope these babies like tummy time! Don't beat yourself up, you do what you need to in order to get through the day.

ChicH... ChicHippie

Plagio is very treatable. You can feel guilty or be proactive and move on. My son was born with craniosynostosis (skull sutures prematurely fused) and I have felt guilt, grief, and blamed myself and others although in reality it's no ones fault and couldn't have been prevented. It's part of being a mom. He has reconstructive skull surgery on Dec 1st and I'm scared silly... but you do what you have to do when you're a mom. Don't worry about the helmet or the pt. My son loves loves pt!

Jennifer Hermann

My daughter is now 5 and her skull is slighty flat on one side. It's hardly even noticable to those in my family who are aware of it. When she was a baby we could not afford the treatment. The doctor assured me it was very mild and would literally not affect her at all. Well I still feel tremendous guilt about this. I imagine one day she will be a teenager and notice it herself and have issues over it and her looks. As if there isn't enough to be insecure about. I remember having horrible insecurites about anything that made me diffeent from other girls, such as a mole on my leg that I hate. In the end I think I know that it is not my fault, but I guess we can't help but feel mommy guilt.

cerai... cerainwondrland

MOh man this post made me feel a little ds 5mo haqs a flat spot on the side of his head,when his pedi told me this she said I need to hold him more and give him more tummy time...but I hold this kid ALL THE TIME! I felt so embarassed because she acted like I was lying :( we think his flat side came from him sleeping with his head rested on a shoulder...he does have a bald patch on the back of his head too,right where it touches in his car seat :( I feel like a shitty mom

Lynette Lynette

something that helps to not getting this is baby wearing.  You can wear twins in a Moby wrap.

Momma... Momma2blessed

Can't say enough about wearing your babies to free up your hands and sooth them at the same time!

nonmember avatar jessica

I'm a CPST. please consider alternatives for your boys when sleeping in carseats.. We had an 8 month old pass away due to suffocation in his seat while he was sleeping.

nonmember avatar Mommytoo

Just have a (hug). of ths apart and thought course you are doing your best, and you will keep doing so, just like we all do. Good luck, too. I had my babies 14 months apart and thought THAT was manic!

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