My son was 4 months old when I first noticed how flat his head had become. Why did I take so long to notice? I really don’t know. Maybe it was the combination of a difficult labour or the subsequent surgery I endured, or maybe just the sleepless nights with a newborn.
Naturally I sought advice about his head. I was told it would gradually round out on its own as he spent less time sleeping on his back and more time sitting up and mobilising whilst awake. I accepted this, mainly because this is what I was taught when training to be a medical doctor. Several months passed and a thick head of dark hair largely disguised the problem. But I began noticing my son’s head shape was really not getting better. I panicked.
In the end, I had to take him to a special clinic in Harley Street, London (The London Orthotic Consultancy) to get a pricey custom helmet. It would improve his head shape, but not correct it – he was too old now. He had to wear it for 23 hours a day, for at least 6 months. I cried. He cried when I tried to put it on, and every time thereafter. The guilt I felt was unimaginable.
It was worth it though – his head shape began to improve. We eventually stopped the treatment several months later. His head shape wasn’t normal, but it was much improved. Several years on, his head is still flat at the back (known as brachycephaly in the medical world), but we hide it behind his beautiful thick hair. It’s not ideal, but we have come to accept it.
In hindsight, I now realize how I could have saved us from this. If I had just persevered with tummy time when my son was born, he might not have had to endure this. I knew that tummy time was beneficial to strengthen neck and forearm muscles and I knew it was important to relieve the pressure off the back of a baby’s head (pressure that is exerted on the head when a baby is laying on its back). I just didn’t realise how important this last point was. It is the relief of this pressure during tummy time that allows the head to round out and take its natural shape over time. But my son hated tummy time, and I just couldn’t bear to see my tiny, precious baby cry.
And it wasn’t for the lack of trying. With hard wooden floors in our home, I bought numerous playmats, desperately hoping to find something soft enough that would allow me to safely place my son on the floor. I even stacked blankets on top of each other in the hope of creating the cushioning I was looking for, only to find them crumpled amongst each other (often entangled with my son’s feet, much to his frustration!). Being a doctor and knowing full well the risks of head injuries, I did not want to leave him on a bed or sofa in case he rolled off, nor did I feel comfortable to risk him hurting himself on a hard floor or poorly cushioned mat. He, like most babies, had a tendency to fall face-forwards during tummy time, and even tip backwards when learning to sit!
I remembered these struggles with tummy time on the trips I made to Harley Street for my son’s head treatment. It was during this time my sister (a dentist who is passionate about protecting children’s teeth from knocks!) and I founded JayceeBaby, and designed the Perfectly Padded Playmat. Not only would it be incredibly soft and provide supportive and protective cushioning, but it would house a multitude of multisensory toys on the face of the mat, thus encouraging babies to stay on their tummies rather than lay on their back.
The Perfectly Padded Playmat has come a long way since then, and is now packed with even more features for families to enjoy. It fully encompasses the JayceeBaby brand of giving babies the best, and is our contribution to parents who wish to engage in tummy time with their little ones too.
I wish I had the Perfectly Padded Playmat when my son was born, and I look forward to using it in the future. I hope you will love it as much as we do!
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