Cephalic Index: What You Need to Know for Your Baby’s Development

Head shape

As a parent, it’s important to stay informed about your child’s development and overall health. One aspect that you may not be familiar with is the cephalic index. Understanding this measurement can provide valuable insights into your baby’s growth and help you address any potential concerns early on.

What is Cephalic Index?

The cephalic index is a measurement used to determine the shape of a baby’s head. It is calculated by dividing the width of the head by the length of the head and multiplying by 100. This gives a numerical value that indicates whether a baby’s head is relatively long and narrow, or short and wide.

A cephalic index of less than 75 indicates a dolichocephalic head shape, which is long and narrow. A cephalic index of over 80 indicates a brachycephalic head shape, which is short and wide. A cephalic index between 75 and 80 is considered mesocephalic, indicating a head shape that is average in length and width.

Why is it Important?

Monitoring your baby’s cephalic index can provide insights into their brain development and overall health. An unusually high or low cephalic index may indicate underlying issues that need to be addressed. For example, a high cephalic index can indicate conditions such as hydrocephalus, while a low cephalic index may be associated with craniosynostosis.

Additionally, understanding your baby’s cephalic index can provide valuable information for things like proper helmet fitting for positional plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome), which can impact your baby’s development if not addressed early on.

Measuring Cephalic Index

Measuring the cephalic index requires the use of calipers to accurately determine the width and length of the head. While it is typically done by medical professionals, you can also observe your baby’s head shape and bring up any concerns with your pediatrician during regular check-ups.

What to Do if You Have Concerns

If you notice any irregularities in your baby’s head shape, it’s important to bring them up with your pediatrician. Early intervention is key in addressing any potential issues, and your pediatrician can provide guidance on the best course of action. Whether it’s addressing a misshapen head from positioning or addressing any underlying conditions, your pediatrician can provide the support and resources you need.


Understanding your baby’s cephalic index can provide valuable insights into their development and overall health. By staying informed and addressing any concerns early on, you can ensure that your baby receives the best possible care and support. If you have any concerns about your baby’s head shape or development, don’t hesitate to reach out to your pediatrician for guidance.


What is considered a normal cephalic index?

A cephalic index between 75 and 80 is considered mesocephalic, indicating a head shape that is average in length and width.

Can the cephalic index change over time?

Yes, a baby’s head shape can change over time, especially in the early months as they spend more time on their backs. It’s important to address any concerns about head shape early on to prevent issues from worsening.