At one time or another, most of us have experienced waking up with a “crick in the neck” – a stiffness that makes it hard to turn your head. Infants can experience the same type of issue for a variety of reasons cramped womb space or trauma during birth. This is known as torticollis, or wryneck, which means twisted neck in Latin.
With torticollis, due to tightness in a neck muscle called the sternocleidomastoid, the baby will tilt their head to one side and have difficulties moving their head. Torticollis can impact a child’s development. It may result in difficulties with breastfeeding, visual tracking, head control, and gross motor movement or result in a flattening of the child’s head on one side. The good news is that generally speaking, torticollis can be easily treated with early intervention including physical therapy.
In addition to seeking medical advice and therapy, parents can promote gentle neck stretching and movement.
- Position the baby facing a wall or away from the room so that they need to turn in order to see what is happening. The baby’s curiosity may motivate them to move.
- Offer the breast or bottle so that the baby moves or is positioned out of the preferred position.
- Engage in play by positioning yourself and toys on the baby’s non-preferred side to encourage head turning.
- Provide tummy time. Start at 2-3 minutes and work up to 15 to 20 minutes at a time for 3-4 times per day. Be sure that your baby is awake and well rested for this workout.
About Enablr Therapy
Enablr’s skilled pediatric physical therapists can work with you and your child to prescribe stretches, positioning, and other exercises to address your child’s unique needs. Enablr Therapy provides in-person therapy services in the Nashville Metro area and live-video therapy sessions for clients throughout the states of Tennessee and select states.