How To Shape The Head Of Your Baby — Yes, It's A REAL Thing

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Have you heard of it?

Most everyone loves babies. And some parents, love to observe the roundness of a baby's head, and if it's not round — they shape it. 

Some families consider a round head a top priority, interestingly enough. 

Luvvie Ajavi brought the conversation of head shaping up on Facebook after she did her own non-scientific research, and the comments flooded her feed. Apparently, lots of parents know about shaping a baby's head, particular those of certain ethnic communities.  

 

In case you've never heard of this, it's not something new.

Head shaping is an ancient practice where a baby's head is massaged gently by the mother, father, or anyone holding the baby. Some people — in particular individuals whose ethnic family tree includes African American or Caribbean ancestry — might head shape without thinking about it, as it's such a common tradition. 

You'll know a parent is a head-shaper by the way they caress a newborn baby while holding them in their arms. Some people will gently touch the child's fingers and toes, while a head-shaper is irresistibly drawn to the head. While holding a baby in their arms, their hands softly massage around the temple and forehead of a baby in a circular fashion to encourage the soft areas of the skull to become round. 

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A head shaper is an artist whose fingers create a work of art. 

 

Their fingers glide from temple to forehead, up the back of the head, and around the nape of the neck. The belief is that this practice removes traces of cranial elongation or areas that are slightly higher on one side than the other —  a result of traveling through the mother's birth canal is gone.

A baby with a beautiful round head is boast-worthy and highly desired in many families. Having a child with an oddly-shaped head is a real cause for concern to some people. If you're born into a family that considers a round head a sign of intelligence, health, and good genes, you'll know. Your family will tell you. 

 

Related: I Love My Daughter More Than My Husband—And He Knows It

 

The day I vaginally delivered my first son, I had trouble. My hips weren't wide enough, so the doctor performed a vacuum-assisted delivery where a soft cup is attached to the baby's head to help move the baby out of the birth canal. (Yes, it's painful.)

As a result, his head was born with a slight lopsidedness where the suction had been used on his head.

 

The moment my Puerto Rican mother saw his little head, she grew concerned and started to work on rounding his little head and encouraged me to do the same. Head-shaping, or head-rounding, as she called it, was an act of love.

For weeks I did head shaping, especially while breastfeeding, and I thought that there were noticeable results. Then, after a few months, the imbalanced peak on top of his head from the delivery started to disappear.

 

By the time he was a year old, there were no noticeable signs of his head every being unevenly shaped on either side. 
 

 

In fact, parents around the world practice the art of reshaping their children's heads, noses, and even girls' feet in a practice known as foot binding, which is now banned in China. 

According to Positive Healthcranial moldingbaby helmetscranial sacral therapy, and head shaping are "almost always associated with external forces acting upon the different cranial bones and distorting their natural positions." These can be caused by: 

  • Prenatal factors
  • Birth factors
  • Postnatal factor

Birth factors, such as vacuum-assisted delivery would fall under this category, like in my own experience.

However, for more serious conditions that require cranial sacral therapy, it's better to get help from medical professionals.

"Head-shaping is safe, if medically done by accredited medical doctors, because sometimes it's absolutely needed, and in a young child whose head is actively growing where the fontanel lines have not coalesced, shaping their heads can prevent cosmetic as well as health-related duress down the road," says concierge and celebrity doctor Jason Littleton, the department chairman for family medicine at Orlando Regional Medical Center. "There's nothing wrong with providing a little head massage for comfort and to help bring about a smile. The concern is when non-medical personnel takes on the role of reshaping the skull — there are liability and health risk involved for the child, and I would not recommend this for this purpose unless under the direct supervision of a medical doctor. 
 

Related: 3 Truths About C-Section Mamas That NEED To Be Said Out Loud

 

 

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