Torticollis and Neck Restrictions in Babies

baby tilted head

Babies may have a preference for turning their head and neck one way more so than the other direction. And in some cases, babies may have their head and neck side bent in one position also. 

CAUSES OF NECK RESTRICTIONS-

A preference for babies to look one way can be as a result of the position they were in whilst in the uterus. In addition some of the forces that occur during the birthing process may cause movement restrictions in the head and neck.

Torticollis (latin for twisted neck) is a condition where the muscles in the neck are possibly shortened or tight, causing the head to be tilted in one direction.

Research is showing that in some cases of torticollis there is a potential link with developmental hip dysplasia (DDH) [1]. DDH will be discussed in another of our blogs, so keep an eye out for it.

POTENTIAL WAYS TO KNOW IF YOUR BABY IS EXPERIENCING NECK RESTRICTIONS-

  1. Your baby only sleeps looking one way.
  2. You may have difficulty getting your baby to follow your movements or toys in their non preferred direction.
  3. When you look at photos of your baby, their head is always in the same position.
  4. The development of a flat spot on your baby’s skull. This is known as brachycephaly and plagiocephaly
  5. Your baby prefers to feed off one breast more than the other.
  6. Your baby is struggling to lift and turn their head whilst doing tummy time.

MANAGEMENT OF NECK RESTRICTIONS AND TORTICOLLIS-

  1. Encourage your baby to turn to the opposite side as much as possible. Use things that they are interested in such as family members faces and voices, windows, mirrors or toys.
  2. Think about the holding and carrying positions of your baby. As a result of changing the way you hold your baby, this will entice them to look at things from different angles.
  3. In regards to neck restrictions and feeding issues, think about the position your baby is being held in to feed. Try different feeding positions and see how they respond.
  4. Change the position of the cot in the room. Babies generally like to look towards the door or at their parents, so try to place these things on your baby’s non preferred side.
  5. Encourage many opportunities for tummy time. Use objects that they like to look at to encourage the baby to look in different directions whilst on tummy time. If you need some help with your baby’s tummy time check out our blog on the subject.

If you are concerned about your baby’s neck movement please consult a health professional.

Dr. Simmone Ortland (osteopath) at Total Balance Healthcare

This blog post is an educational tool only.  It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.

Any other questions not answered here? Get in touch with us! Phone:  (03) 97738085

References:

  1. The Relationship Between Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip and Congenital Muscular Torticollis (2006), Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics 26(6):805-808. Johan von Heideken, Daniel W Green, Stephen W. Burke.

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