Infant torticollis is a condition wherein the muscles of the neck have tightened, which causes the head to tilt to one side. In the long term, torticollis can affect a child's ability to track moving objects and perform movements that enable eating, self-cleaning and play.
Fortunately, there are many exercises and simple tasks that can be done at home to enable rehabilitation. Children who do not respond to these exercises may need to have surgery at a later time.
Encourage Your Child to Play and Crawl on His or Her Stomach
Encourage your child to strengthen his or her neck muscles by spending time playing and crawling on his or her stomach on a daily basis. Many children with torticollis dislike doing this because it's physically difficult for them to lift their head. You can make this time more tolerable for your child by placing a rolled towel under his or her chest.
Encourage Movement on the Unfavored Side
Children with torticollis will have a favored "side" that they naturally turn toward. To encourage your child to turn in different ways, do things that attract your child's attention on the unfavored side. Call your child's name, make noises, and sing songs to your child on the side that he or she finds uncomfortable. If your child is able to crawl, it helps to do this with a partner who can hold the child in place, forcing him or her to use the neck muscles instead of crawling toward the noise.
Keep Your Child's Head Straight
Support your child's head whenever possible to discourage your child from getting used to looking at the world from a sideways point of view. When in a car seat, use a blanket to prop up your child's head so that it doesn't loll to the favored side.
Position Your Child In Different Directions During Nap Time and Bed Time
Many children naturally enjoy sleeping in one position and facing one direction. Placing your child laying in different directions in the crib will encourage him or her to turn and twist in ways that are outside the norm, thereby helping to strengthen the neck muscles.
Of course, torticollis must be diagnosed by a doctor and any and all exercises that children perform on the road to recovery should be approved by a physician beforehand. Your physician may also recommend physical therapy at places such as Whitney Oaks Care Center to help your child fully recover. If you suspect that your infant has torticollis, speak with your pediatrician immediately.