As Derek Zoolander would say, my baby girl is not an ambi-turner. Ever since we brought her home from the hospital, she’s favored her left side, dropping that cheek to the mattress every night when we put her to bed, and only wiggling in that direction underneath her little activity gym. “Maybe she’ll be left-handed! And endowed with all that bonus creativity!” we lied to ourselves.
And now, my baby’s head is a trapezoid.
A baby’s skull is a malleable thing, expertly designed by nature to more easily (note: not easily, just more easily) pass through the birth canal before it’s entirely fused. So in the first few months of life, head shape is in flux. My sister, a nurse at a prestigious neonatal intensive-care unit, told me about the Tortle; it’s what they use on babies at the hospital to avoid Flat Head Syndrome (real name). It’s a soft hat with a finlike air pocket designed to keep baby from putting pressure on certain spots. It’s soft and rather cozy, and this little hat is keeping my beautiful baby from forming the kind of melon that garners unfortunate elementary-school nicknames.
The Tortle does two things: prevents or corrects flat spots by keeping weight off of them, and helps baby with torticollis, the condition that keeps my little one turning left, no matter how much we snap our fingers on her right. (Also, snapping your fingers next to a 3-month-old’s head never elicits a response, so that is just bad parenting.) Her teeny little neck muscles are more relaxed on that one side, maybe from the way she was wedged in my uterus. The Tortle keeps her head turned to the right while she naps, or jaunts about the neighborhood in her stroller. And slowly, slowly, slowly, it’s stretching her neck muscles and giving her more range of motion.
Now, once the cap is on, you have to make sure it’s tight. Seriously tight. You should also know that this isn’t a miracle product. We’ve been using it for about a month, and her head still isn’t a bowling ball. But it gives you a slight break from one more thing you’ve been stressing about.
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