Baby Favours One Side: Is It a Cause for Concern?
Giving birth is just one of the concerns for moms. The second – and the bigger source of worry – is raising a child from newborn to adulthood. Sometimes rearing kids can be so overwhelming parents miss out on the little details such as babies preferring one side when they’re lying on their backs or sleeping.
Before you start freaking out if something is wrong, know it’s fairly common for babies to do that. What you need to know is whether it should concern you and its potential long-term impact on your child’s health.
Why Does It Happen?
There are many different reasons why babies may prefer to one side over the other (although most tend to lean or look toward the right than the left):
1. Muscle Weakness
Babies are literally fragile when they’re born. Their neck muscles and neck, for example, are weak they need a strong reliable support. And it’s this weakness that causes the lack of coordination when it comes to movement. Whether they like it or not, their head will lean to a particular side.
This is basically a newborn suffering from a stiff neck. The muscles around the neck tend to contract or stiffen so the baby ends up tilting to one side. It’s a problem that can last from birth to about 3 months. It can be frustrating and perhaps painful for the baby who cannot turn his or her head to the other side.
Unfortunately, no one knows why this happens or why others develop it and some don’t. Some experts speculate it has something to do with the baby’s form in utero or when the mother went through a difficult childbirth.
3. Ear Infection
Do you remember the time when you had an ear infection? It’s not only bothersome but it is also painful. And when something feels painful, you don’t want to disturb it as much as possible, so you try to sleep on the opposite side of the pained ear. It’s the same thing with babies.
Babies are prone to different ear infections since their canals are still immature and thus narrower.
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4. Breast Preference
Many infants do take a pick between your right and left breast. Usually, it happens when one provides more milk supply or is easier to access.
Why Should You Be Concerned?
It’s normal for babies to look at one side only once in a while. Probably something has caught their attention. Nevertheless, if it’s been a habit for weeks, it’s time to pay more attention.
Newborns, especially, can develop the flat head syndrome. As its name suggests, a part of the head may appear or feel “flat” (although it may also be wide, a condition called brachycephaly).
It occurs because the baby’s skull is still pliable and soft. When one side of the head receives constant pressure, it can change the head’s structure. The effects of a flat head syndrome are varied. They may cause emotional issues due to low self-esteem later in life. Others may not be able to certain activities since they may not wear the standard safety equipment like helmets. Some studies show a connection between cranial deformity and delayed or poor neurological development.
Moreover, it’s possible this habit has a connection with any of the mentioned health conditions, which will require some treatment.
What Can You Do?
If your baby has a habit of tilting to a particular side, you can take these steps:
1. Change the position
The solution can be as simple as changing the position of the head. You can do that during feeding, bathing, and napping. As mentioned, infants have soft, pliable, and weak neck and head. These will need proper support by holding them both when you lift the baby up.
2. Change breasts when breastfeeding
If your baby’s particular head tilting has something to do with breastfeeding times, a practical solution is to interchange your breasts. Another way is to change your positions during feeding in a way your baby can also change sides.
3. Check if there are other symptoms
You’ll know if there’s an underlying condition your baby is suffering from by observing other symptoms. If the baby has an ear infection, for example, he or she may also tend to scratch the area. The ears may also be smelly, or the baby will develop fever as infection progresses. Babies with torticollis may look over the shoulder than look at you straight. You may also find them exerting more effort to change sides.
4. Avoid laying the baby down for hours
Very young children may have to spend more time on the bed, sleeping. However, as they grow older and their muscles become more fully developed, it’s time to change position – that is, putting the baby on their tummy.
This is a good way to encourage your baby to start crawling. Note, though, you need to wait until the baby can hold his or her neck on his or her own. It usually occurs when the child is about 6 months.
Don’t panic. The more you scare yourself, the more you end up not knowing what to do. You become vulnerable to committing mistakes or making poor decisions on your baby’s welfare.
If your baby is showing signs of a flat head syndrome, you have two options: wait or seek medical help. If it develops early on, simply changing head positions may already help in allowing the condition to resolve on its own.
However, if it develops when your baby is older or when the deformity is severe, you may need some medical help. Doctors may suggest a helmet your child has to wear to help reshape the head. On the most severe cases, surgery is an option, but it’s costly and very risky.
If the baby has a stiff neck, the doctor may recommend seeing a physical therapist or doing some neck exercises. These will help loosen the muscles.
Armed with the right knowledge, you can spot potential problems early.