Does your baby sleep with a so-called “head-shaping pillow”? It’s time to toss that thing to the curb, according to new guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
In a warning issued last Thursday (November 3), the FDA advised parents to stop using these pillows, which are marketed as tools to alter an infant’s head shape or symmetry. The agency said it is “not aware of any demonstrated benefit with the use of infant head shaping pillows for any medical purpose.” On the contrary, these pillows can “create an unsafe sleep environment for infants” and may contribute to an increased risk of suffocation or sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
“If you own an infant head shaping pillow, throw it away; do not donate or give it to anyone else,” the FDA continued.
Head-shaping pillows usually contain a hole or indentation to cradle a baby’s head. They come in different shapes, including hearts or ovals, and are sometimes marketed as head cushions, baby support pillows, or flat head pillows. There are no FDA-approved options on the market.
Parents ostensibly purchase these pillows to combat flat head syndrome, or positional plagiocephaly, which sometimes occurs when an infant sleeps in the same position for extended periods of time. This condition can cause an infant’s head to have a flattened appearance on one side. Since babies have such soft skulls, their heads are much more sensitive to prolonged pressure.
Flat head syndrome may look concerning, but it is very common, not linked to any developmental issues, and easily treatable with special exercises, corrective headbands, or varied sleep positions.
“Be aware that, in most cases, flat head syndrome will go away on its own as an infant grows, it is not painful, and it does not cause any developmental concerns,” the FDA added.
The use of head-shaping pillows may also inadvertently delay “necessary evaluation” for concerns like flat head syndrome — or worse, “more serious conditions” like craniosynostosis, a birth defect in which a baby’s skull bones join together too soon.
So, if you’re worried about your child developing flat head syndrome, talk to their healthcare provider about physician-approved prevention strategies…not a head-shaping pillow from a random site on the internet.
Before you go, check out the best all-natural cough products for kids:
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