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Congenital muscular torticollis (CMT) refers to when a baby is born with tightness in one of the muscles in the neck. This muscle tightness causes the baby’s head to remain in a fixed position with limited range of movement. Treatment for this condition consists of passive stretches of the affected muscle. This information sheet provides instructions for the passive stretches and ideas for encouraging your baby to move actively into the desired position.
Instructions for stretching
Before beginning the stretching programme it is important you find a position where both you and your baby are comfortable. Usually the easiest position is with the baby lying on its back on the floor or a hard, safe surface.
• Hold your child’s RIGHT shoulder down with your LEFT hand
• Place your RIGHT hand on top of your child’s head and slowly bend their head towards their LEFT
• Hold the position for 10 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times, 2-4 times a day
• Stabilise your child’s LEFT shoulder with your LEFT hand.
• Place your RIGHT hand on the LEFT side of your child’s face.
• Turn your child’s head to their RIGHT.
• Hold the position for 10 seconds.
Repeat 10-15 times, 2-4 times a day
• Position your child on your lap lying on their LEFT side facing you
• Place your RIGHT hand underneath your child’s head for support.
• Slowly reduce the amount of support on your child’s head to allow their head to lower with gravity towards their LEFT shoulder
• Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 10-15 times, 2-4 times a day
• Try and encourage your child to turn their head by stimulating them with toys, feeding and facial contact
• Hold toys so that your child has to look to his RIGHT.
• Position your child so that activities in the room encourage them to look RIGHT.
• Whilst feeding your child position their face to the RIGHT.
• While holding your child across the shoulder, position them to face RIGHT.
Playing on stomach
When your child is lying on their stomach, turn their head to the RIGHT and encourage them to stay there.
• Hold your child facing away from you in a side lying position, with their RIGHT ear resting against your RIGHT forearm.
• Place your LEFT arm between your child’s legs and support their body.
• Carry your child in this position as much as possible.