The answer to this question, flat head syndrome, is unknown. It is believed that the effects of baby swings on babies are minimal and usually temporary. However, there are also cases where children have experienced permanent head damage due to misuse of baby swings. When parents do not use them properly, they might cause their infants to suffer from poor motor skills development and/or developmental delays that can profoundly affect their long-term health.
How Can Baby Swings Cause Flat Head Syndrome?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep on their backs for the first six months of life and that they move to their backs whenever they sleep. Some parents place their infants to sleep in the baby swing, even though some scientific evidence has already indicated this may be problematic.
Causes of Flathead Syndrome
The research has shown that the baby’s head will flatten out if placed in certain positions.
1. Sleeping in the prone position for more than two hours (e.g., sleeping on the stomach, side, or back.
2. Sleeping in the supine position for more than twelve hours
3. Sleeping on a soft surface (e.g., bean bag) while awake and not actively moving or breathing.
4. Having a low oxygen level within one’s body (hypoxia). The baby’s head can also flatten out due to medications, diseases, or infections.
Note: Most infants have flat heads when they are born. Its appearance is due to how the baby was positioned during childbirth and not because of the swing seat itself. Many babies, who do not have flat heads, naturally grow out of it over time.
How to Avoid Getting Flathead Syndrome?
1. Place the baby on their back in the crib at night and prop up their feet with a rolled-up towel (simulating sleeping on their back).
2. Avoid putting your baby down to sleep in a low position (on the stomach, side, etc.) during the first six months of age.
3. Make sure your family does not go on a car trip during which there is a lot of rocking.
4. Ensure that your child sleeps in his bed.
5. Reassure your child that it is no big deal if he has a flat head.
6. Place a pillow under the head of a sleeping infant if there is concern about flat-headedness. The pillow may help prevent pressure on the head and allow for breathing and proper positioning.
7. Consult your doctor for professional help if you identify any of the above symptoms in your child.
8. Make sure that your child breathes properly while asleep.
Symptoms of Flathead Syndrome
There are many different causes of flat head syndrome. The most common cause is an awkward sleeping position during pregnancy. This happens when the mother sleeps in one position for a long period. The baby’s skull can be affected by pressure points on the head from this sleeping position. Along with sleep patterns, flat-headed babies may also develop due to stress and mental illness. However, heights and other activities have also been known to cause the flat head syndrome.
Safety Measures for Using a Baby Swing
1. Must check the certifications and instructions of the product you are choosing. This will give you assurance regarding the safe use of the product.
2. Set up the swing off to one side of your room.
3. Keep the swing away from the window in a room where there is no direct sunlight.
4. Place your baby in the swing 15 to 20 minutes before he naps.
5. Never allow your baby to sleep with the swing for long periods of time.
6. Never give your baby a pacifier while in the swing, as this can choke him and cause breathing difficulties.
Flathead Syndrome is caused by pressure points on the skull. The most common cause is sleeping in a position for more than two hours with the head inclined at more than 20 degrees. Using a baby swing for keeping a child to sleep is not a healthy routine as it develops various issues. You should be very cautious when using a baby swing; it should not be used for several hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is it safe to leave my baby unattended in the swing?
A. No, it is not safe to leave your baby unattended in the swing. You should always keep a watchful eye on your baby and make sure that they are comfortable.
Q. Will my baby’s head get flat if I let them sleep in a swing for hours?
A. Not necessarily, but it is recommended that your child sleeps on their back. If you do have reason to believe that the flat head syndrome has been occurring due to sleeping in the swing, then you should seek medical help immediately.