Now that I have had two healthy babies, but both had torticollis, I thought that I would write a post about it to let other expecting mothers know what it is and what to look for. Basically it means the baby's neck muscles are tighter on one side than the other, which makes the baby favor turning his or her head in one direction. This can be due to an awkward position in the uterus perhaps due to the baby being large. Since many of us have beautiful, healthy babies that are "large for gestational age", they may be more likely to have torticollis.
Here are our torticollis stories:
My son weighed 4,2kg (9 lb 5 oz) at birth. (He was measuring 4 weeks ahead according to ultrasounds from week 29 on.) His torticollis was noticed at the age of one month. At the hospital where he was born, babies of diabetic mothers get specially monthly checkups for the first year with a special doctor who specializes in possible complications. This doctor noticed this at his first check up (it was not detected when he was born). I did not want to believe that my son favored the right side. We had spent 24 hours a day together for a month and I was sure that I would have noticed it. However, when I went home and started paying attention, I noticed that he indeed always turned his head to the right when sleeping on his back and during playtime. Somehow I missed this. The doctor recommended playing on his left to encourage him to look that direction and doing a simple exercise of turning his head (manually but gently) to the left at every diaper change. By the age of two months, his torticollis was not detectable.
My daughter was smaller at birth, weighing 3,5 kg (7lb 11 oz), but her case of torticollis is much more severe. (SO SIZE IS NOT ALL THAT MATTERS.) This is likely due to the fact that she managed to find some pretty awkward positions in the uterus (laying diagonally was her favorite). Her torticollis was diagnosed by the pediatrician on the day that she was born. It was pretty visible that she tilted her head to the left and favored looking to the right. She also had a lump on one side of her neck that even I could feel. We have been using the same approach -- playing on the left and doing the exercises (admittedly with less discipline because well... she is a second child). At almost three months, the situation has improved, but she still favors the right when on her back. She can turn her neck fully when on her tummy, but when she sleeps, she *always* turns her head to the right.
If torticollis is not detected in time or if the case is severe, it can require further treatment or surgery. So it is good to watch out for this in your babies.
I'm curious how many of your babies were diagnosed with torticollis.