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Ways to Help Keep Kids Better Rounded

Tuesday, March 8, 2005; Page HE05

Pediatricians say there are ways to minimize the risk of plagiocephaly. Here are some tips:

• Remember "tummy time" -- supervised play while the baby is on his stomach. Tummy time strengthens the neck muscles as the baby looks up.

• Limit time in car seats.

• Avoid extended periods in bouncy seats and infant swings.

• Limit the time your child spends his back.

• Try placing your infant on her side while she sleeps. Be careful to watch that she doesn't roll over onto her stomach unsupervised.

• Reposition your baby in the crib. Infants positioned the same way will turn their heads the same way every time, usually toward the direction of noises; then, they end up falling asleep on the same side of their heads. Position the baby's head at alternating ends of the crib.

Devices you can buy -- or make:

Baby stores sell wedge-shaped foam pillows -- they look like little Jersey walls -- to prop up against your baby's head. A Harvard plastic surgeon, Gary Rogers, has patented a carved-foam pillow -- not yet on the market -- that he says helps prevent plagiocephaly.

We learned from our baby's physical therapist that Indian moms typically place the backs of their babies' heads into towels rolled into a doughnut to mold their heads as they grow. (We used a stuffed sock.)

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