By Kelsey on May 18, 2012 9

Torticollis Tips and Update

UPDATE (8/13/12): We have found more success in treating Roo’s torticollis with chiropractic care than we did with physical therapy. It is important to note that this information is still valid, and parents should be aware that spending a lot of time in products such as the Bumbo, swing, etc., are not always great for baby’s neck and head as they develop.

I told you a couple weeks ago that Rooney has torticollis. Unfortunately, I wasn’t fully impressed with our physical therapist (partly due to personality, partly due to the lack of information she gave me).

Thankfully, one of our blog readers (who wishes to remain anonymous) is a pediatric physical therapist and reached out to help. I researched a lot on my own about torticollis so I could be Rooney’s advocate, but didn’t find anything as helpful and practical as the tips below.

I share this with you because I hope that if your child has torticollis that you feel informed. I am amazed at how common torticollis seems to be nowadays. I had never heard of it before but have a couple friends whose babies (born within a month of Rooney) also have it. Roo’s progress has been great so far and we are so glad we caught it early. We will still probably have to watch it for up to a year, but she should make a full recovery.

I will admit it is hard to remember to do these things sometimes, to stretch her when she does not want to be stretched, to add one more thing to our routine. Honestly, day care does most of it now that we only see her for an hour each evening. But we have made quite a few changes in our house to encourage her (moved her to her crib, carry her around in the tilt stretch, position ourselves on her left side during play, make her turn her head to the left if she wants to watch TV, etc.).

Thanks to the blog community and my new bloggy friend for the following tips:

There are so many baby “products” out there and new parents think the more the better and that if it’s on the market it must be developmentally good for baby. But many of these can contribute to torticollis (and the associated risk of plagiocephaly or “flat head”).

In addition to PT and stretching, a child with torticollis would benefit from a BARE MINIMUM of time in positioning devices … car seat, swing, bouncy seats, etc., and in back-lying (like in the activity gym/mat…the exception obviously is sleeping) and MAX time on her tummy or in sidelying (roll a towel or blanket and put it behind her to prop her on her side).

She should also be sleeping flat (like in a crib) and having some repositioning periodically to avoid the tilt and pressure on the back right side of her head (NOTE: Rooney has left torticollis). When she is positioned in semi-reclined (like the napper, car seat, swing, bouncy chairs, etc.), gravity will pull her into her “position of ease” a.k.a head tilt and rotate with pressure on the same part of her skull. And without even realizing it, you may have moved her to four or five different devices but she’s essentially been in the same position for the bulk of the day.

The best thing to supplement her PT is STRENGTHENING, which comes from tummy time. This doesn’t just have to be on the floor either…she can be on your chest while you are on your back or on her tummy over your lap.

Another little tip is when she’s playing to really encourage her to look UP and left. When she is in equipment (swing, bouncy seat, etc.), you can place toys strategically to encourage looking that direction as well as position the equipment so the people and activity in the room is that direction.

And in tummy time, until she can roll about and move stuff, you could use an activity gym/mat placed over her left shoulder (so she’s not actually laying on the mat but on the floor) to encourage her to look that way. She may prefer tummy time propped slightly like chest over a boppy pillow or rolled towel. It makes the work of lifting that head a little easier and the reduces the risk of face-planting (no fun).


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  1. My older daughter had a mild case of torticollis and luckily we had a great therapist. We found the boppy tummy time worked great for us and when she was older the exersaucer made a world of difference. We actually were able to discontinue PT at around six months. I have noticed that torticollis seems to be on the rise now, I like you had never heard of it either. I have noticed though that everyone that I have encountered that has a baby with torticollis had a baby that was 8+ pounds at birth.

    • That is interesting. One of the babies I know with torticollis was 8’3 at birth and the other was 7’0. Rooney’s head is big — 99th percentile — so I think it is extra hard for her to control it!

      Did you consider or try chiropractic care for torticollis?

      • We did consider a chiropractor but ultimately just kept with our PT. My husband is a researcher by nature and after looking into the chiropractors in our area and the research on children be treated by them he didn’t feel as confident in them as he did in our therapist.
        We haven’t had any regrets. Now that she’s three and half torticollis seems like such a little blip on what we’ve had to deal with on the parenting spectrum. Everything will come together quickly and you’ll hardly remember this time.

  2. You have many wonderful connections through the blogging world, and I’m so glad you got some helpful information. Can’t wait to see little Roo this weekend!

  3. Danielle Stens May 18, 2012 at 10:02 am

    Maybe Thor and Rooney could have a stretching party for their Torticollis next Thursday night when they hangout ;). HEHE.

    Thor has a bigger head too. I too believe that this has made it harder for him to have head control combined with the torticollis. They also think his torticollis is a result of my preterm labor. Since the 29th week of my pregnancy his head was soooo low and in the birthing position. They think he was kind if ‘stuck’ with his head in the position he now ‘prefers’ for the 8 weeks I was on bed rest.

    He is getting better too but still has a noticeable head positioning preference (tilts head to the left with chin to the right). The biggest improvement we notice is that he is becoming much more flexible turning his head all the way to the left then he was before so I think it is gettng better.

    • They will have to! :) Are you doing PT and chiropractic care, or just chiropractic?

      • Danielle Stens May 18, 2012 at 12:20 pm

        We have a friend who is a pediatric PT and she came over to our house to work with him and gave us the stretches. We do those at home now. He hasn’t gone back to her after her innitial visit to us. She said if we are worried she can come back and look him over later. He is getting adjusted about once per week at the chiropractor right now.

        • I am jealous! We have to go back to PT every other week and I feel like it is a waste of time…they said she is improving and didn’t have anything new to tell us. Our friend is a great chiropractor so we are considering doing that instead.

  4. My bub had torticollis (though I didn’t realise that was it’s name!), probably from being delivered with assistance of a vacuum. We had him treated by an osteopath when he was one week old (with two follow-up sessions) and he is just great now. Well, we think he’s perfect ;)

    The osteopathy was so gentle that he slept or fed through the whole thing, so I’d highly recommend this as another option.

    PS Rooney is just gorgeous!

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