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Fixing Flat Heads

The good news: Fewer babies are dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) these days, thanks to efforts by health organizations to get infants to sleep faceup. The not-so-good news: More babies sleeping on their backs means more flattened heads  -- 1 in 60 today, compared with 1 in 300 in 1992. The condition is usually cosmetic and resolves when babies start to spend less time lying down. But in extreme cases, a flattened head may lead to problems like a misaligned jaw, and your child may need to wear a corrective helmet or band. You can avoid that, though, by giving your baby's head plenty of chances to round out on its own. Ten minutes of tummy time several times a day, from when she's 2 months old, is a good start. What else to do:

• Vary her position during bottle feedings so the pressure isn't always on the same side of her head.

• Regularly move her toys to different spots in the room. She'll have to turn her head to see them.

• Don't let her spend all day in a swing, car seat, stroller, or bouncy seat. (Wearing her in a sling or carrier is a good switch.) When she is in a seat, move it every so often to encourage her to look around.

• Alternate which end you lay her down in her crib. This way her head won't always be in the same position when she looks toward the center of the room  -- the view of choice for most babies.