Preventing Flat Spots: What Parents Need to Know About Positional Plagiocephaly

Head shape

As a parent, it’s natural to want to do everything you can to ensure your child’s health and well-being. When it comes to preventing flat spots on your baby’s head, also known as positional plagiocephaly, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the risk. Read on to learn more about what positional plagiocephaly is, and how you can help prevent it from developing in your baby.

What is Positional Plagiocephaly?

Positional plagiocephaly is a condition where a baby’s head develops a flat spot due to external forces. This can happen when a baby spends a lot of time lying in one position, such as on their back. Since the American Academy of Pediatrics started recommending that babies be placed on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), there has been an increase in cases of positional plagiocephaly. While it’s important to follow safe sleep guidelines, it’s also important to be aware of the risk of flat spots and take steps to prevent them.

Preventing Flat Spots

There are several simple things you can do to reduce the risk of flat spots developing on your baby’s head. Here are some tips:

  • Give your baby plenty of tummy time when they are awake and supervised. Tummy time helps to strengthen your baby’s neck and shoulder muscles, and gives their head a break from the pressure of the mattress.

  • Change the direction your baby lies in the crib from one week to the next. This can help to vary the pressure on different parts of their head.

  • Hold and carry your baby in different positions to reduce the amount of time they spend with pressure on one part of their head.

  • Use a firm, well-fitting mattress in your baby’s crib to reduce the risk of flat spots developing.

  • Consult with your pediatrician if you notice any flattening or asymmetry in your baby’s head shape. Early intervention can help prevent the condition from worsening.

Using Positional Helmets

In some cases, pediatricians may recommend the use of a positional helmet to help reshape a baby’s head. These helmets are typically worn for 23 hours a day, and work by applying gentle, consistent pressure to the flat spots on the baby’s head. While they can be effective, they are not always necessary, and prevention is the best approach.


By following these simple tips, you can help prevent flat spots from developing on your baby’s head and reduce the risk of positional plagiocephaly. It’s important to be mindful of how much time your baby spends in one position, and to take steps to vary their head and body positioning throughout the day. As always, if you have any concerns about your baby’s head shape, be sure to consult with your pediatrician for guidance and support.


Q: How much tummy time should I give my baby?

A: Aim for at least 15-30 minutes of tummy time per day, starting from the first week of life. This can be broken up into short periods throughout the day.

Q: When should I be concerned about my baby’s head shape?

A: If you notice any flattening or asymmetry in your baby’s head shape, or if you have any concerns, it’s best to consult with your pediatrician as early intervention can be key in preventing positional plagiocephaly.

Q: Are positional helmets necessary for all cases of flat spots?

A: No, positional helmets are not always necessary and are typically only recommended in more severe cases. Prevention through repositioning and tummy time is usually the first line of defense against positional plagiocephaly.