Anti-flat head pillows can suffocate your baby

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    In the United States, a new alert about devices to prevent flat head in babies was issued in early November. These pillows can suffocate babies. The warning is also valid in France.

    Anti-flat head pillows or other “baby wedges” may do your child more harm than good. Often purchased with good intentions by parents concerned with correcting or preventing plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) in their newborns, these devices have in fact no apparent medical benefit. Worse, like all unnecessary accessories added to the crib, they pose a risk of suffocation and infant death. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration in the USA) published a new alert on this topic on November 3 and is being heard in France where baby bedding meets several recommendations.

    Plagiosplasty, a common skull deformity… and temporary

    According to the statement, approximately one in five babies today will have plagioplasty usually during sleep or during childbirth, due to their soft skulls.

    Pediatricians explain it: if they spend a lot of time on one side of the head, like when they sleep, the constant pressure can cause the baby’s bones to change shape. Premature babies are also at higher risk of disease because their skull bones are still softer. The appearance of plagioplasty is also more present because of the recommendations to place the baby on the back in the 90s. A recommendation however useful because it reduced by 75% the cases of sudden infant death syndrome in France.

    While the subject and appearance generally worry parents, flathead is medically not a major cause for concern and does not harm development. It should also be known: over time, the bones naturally return to the place.

    Head Shaped Pillows Are Dangerous

    The FDA clarified: “We are now telling parents to stop using head-shaped pillows on their babies because they can suffocate and kill babies.”

    Pillows made with an indentation or hole in the middle and widely sold on the internet are often advertised as treating flat head syndrome. In fact, they are mainly an accessory that has nothing to do with the newborn bed, like stuffed animals or bumpers. In the case of these head wedges, the agency specified that “The angle of the pillows can press babies’ chins against their chests and risk blocking their airways”.

    The question of health is also regularly answered by French pediatricians. In Doctissimo’s interview in April, Dr. Werner, president of Afpa (French association of outpatient pediatrics) on the question of the usefulness of these head wedges? His answer was clear: to avoid flat head syndrome, the baby should not lie down all day.

    The only time a child should be lying down is at night. In other countries of the world where the customs are different and the child is brought, this disfigurement does not exist”.

    And insist “A baby, from birth to about 6 months old, must be carried. I often hear mothers tell me that they leave their child lying for long hours in the sun, pretending that the child is saying nothing. But it’s a mistake” the pediatrician hammered.

    As for the reality of using a baby wedge, or an anti-flat head cushion, the pediatrician has the same conclusions: “These pillows are not only not recommended, but even dangerous because they increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and suffocation in the baby.

    According to the FDA, the answer is more drastic: parents who own one should simply “throw it away” and not give it away or resell it.

    Recommendations to prevent flat head in babies

    Also in France, the Haute Autorité de Santé takes the topic of flat head seriously and regularly reminds us of recommendations for use.

    When your baby is sleeping:

    • Lay him on his back, in his bed on a firm mattress, in a sleeping bag;
    • Don’t put anything on his bed (neither comforter nor toys) so he can’t catch them and suffocate;
    • Do not use bed reducers, headrests and baby wedges: this will allow him to move freely;
    • Let him look in all directions, without the bed bumper.

    When your baby is awake:

    • Vary her positions during play activities on the floor: place her toys around her to encourage her to look to the side;
    • During the change, gradually train him on his stomach: he will disturb his neck and back;
    • Take him often in your arms;
    • With each bottle or feeding, remember to switch arms: your baby will turn his head to catch your eye;
    • Limit the time spent on childcare equipment as much as possible (deckchair, baby-relax, cozy, etc.) and reserve seat shells for transport by car;

    What if you find out that your baby’s head is flat? Make an appointment with your doctor who will examine it and advise you.

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