Torticollis. Tort-a-what?

Being a new mom can be a scary thing. EVERYTHING is unknown. Especially to me. I had never even really held a baby before Olivia. On her first follow up appointment from leaving the hospital, you know the one where they check to make sure you’ve managed to keep the baby alive. LOL I KID, I KID. It’s to check and make sure the baby is eating correctly, gaining weight, and to catch any possible medical issues since leaving the hospital. It was at this appointment we were told, “oh looks like she favors a side”. 

 We were told to turn her head to the other side as often as we could. I would try, but honestly, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. She was comfy. She was sleeping. Why on earth would I risk waking her to move her head? Well, let me tell you why. Torticollis. I learned the hard way at her two month well baby appointment with her Pediatrician. Her Pediatrician noticed a major head tilt, flat head and tight neck. Since her head was always cranked to one side, the left side was super tight and the right side was very loose. We were scheduled for physical therapy with a specialist that not only see’s kids and babies, but a special specialist that sees babies as young as her. 

I was told I would have to come weekly and I would have to do stretches with her at home and exercises. I was lucky that I was able to stay home with Olivia and had time to do them with her, and work with her, and take her to her therapy appointments. I’m not sure how a working mom would have had the time to do it all. Tummy time made me want to cry and drink. Olivia hated it and would cry so hard and whimper, and look at me like why are you doing this to me? It was so sad! I got through it thinking, you won’t remember and you’ll be happy when you’re able to hold your head up straight. I was told she had a very difficult case and it could affect her timeline for sitting, crawling and walking. 

It didn’t. And here’s how I think why.

– I did the stretching. Even if it made her cry. I’d just do it for a minute or two, but several times a day. 

– I did tummy time, and lots of it! I strongly recommend tummy time from even when they are just a week or so old, but in short periods and ALWAYS under 100% supervision. When I went on walks with Olivia, instead of putting her in the stroller, I carried her in a baby carrier (Baby Bjorn). This forced her to work a little harder and keep her head up, working those neck muscles.

Tummytime pillow and boppy
– I put her toys on the “bad side” forcing her to turn her head the opposite way. 

– I carried her as much as I could.

Baby Bjorn Carrier
– I took her to every physical therapy appointment they would schedule for her and I was attentive and actively participated. 
Now, at 13 months, Olivia is still in therapy. She now only goes once a month instead of once a week and it’s just for a short time longer to help with some residual tightness. We had her sleeping in a rocknplay till she was 9 months so that didn’t help the condition much. We felt safe with her in the rocknplay and she loved it so much, but honestly, if I could go back to the beginning again, on night 1 from birth I would have her sleeping in a dockatot in the halo bassinet. Olivia started walking at 12 months (she took steps at 11 ½ months) and I honestly feel it was because of all my hard work and her hard work at physical therapy. 

Halo Bassinest

Some other items for head repositioning 

Baby Moov
This pillow helps prevent flat head.  

Tortle Beanie
Helps prevent flat head and the bar in the back helps keep babies head in a certain direction to counteract if baby prefers one side. 
Leave me a comment if you have any questions about Torticollis or physical therapy!

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