Torticollis is a condition that develops in the third trimester of pregnancy. But what is this thing that sounds like a turtle? Let’s have a look at the condition and why you should learn more about it.
What the heck is torticollis?
Despite the fact that the word might evoke scary feelings, torticollis is very treatable if you notice and address the problem as soon as possible. All this means is that your baby has a tight neck. Have you ever noticed what your next feels like when you fall asleep in the wrong position? Now imagine being stuck in that position for weeks on end. In newborns, the condition happens due to positioning in the womb or after a difficult birth. The condition is also known as congenital muscular torticollis.
The muscles on the one side of your baby’s neck tighten up while the muscles on the other side stretch out. In most cases, you can spot it if your baby prefers to have his or her head to a specific side. Boys and girls are equally likely to develop the head tilt. It can show up at birth or might take up to three months to develop. As soon as you notice it, the problem has to be treated to prevent the development of a flat spot on your baby’s head.
What are the signs of torticollis?
Babies with torticollis look and act just like any other baby, except when they’re turning their heads. Babies with torticollis might:
- Tilt their heads in one direction
- Prefer looking at their caretakers over one shoulder instead of turning to follow with their eyes
- Have trouble breastfeeding on one side or prefers one breast only
- Be unable to completely turn their heads
How do doctors treat torticollis?
More often than not, doctors suggest neck stretching exercises that you’ll have to practice with your baby at home. These exercises help loosen tight neck muscles and strengthen weak muscles which also straightens out your baby’s neck. In rare cases, your doctor might suggest physical therapy for further treatment.
Tummy time and torticollis
Tummy time is a great at-home treatment for torticollis because it helps strengthen neck and shoulder muscles and prepares your baby for crawling. It’s especially beneficial if your baby has started developing a flat spot on his or her head. Here’s how to do it:
Place your baby on your lap for some tummy time. Position him or her so that their head is turned away from you. Now, talk or sing to your baby as you encourage them to turn their heads and face you. This can be done for 10 to 15 minutes a day.