Positional Plagiocephaly: What Every Parent Needs to Know

Head shape

As a parent, it’s natural to worry about every aspect of your baby’s health and development. One condition that has been receiving increased attention in recent years is positional plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome. If you’ve noticed that your baby’s head is misshapen, you may be concerned about what this means for their health and well-being. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about positional plagiocephaly, including causes, prevention, and treatment options.

What is Positional Plagiocephaly?

Positional plagiocephaly is a condition in which an infant’s head becomes flattened as a result of prolonged pressure on one spot. This often occurs when babies spend a lot of time lying on their backs, as recommended to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). While some degree of head asymmetry is common in infants, severe or persistent flattening of the head may indicate positional plagiocephaly.

Causes of Positional Plagiocephaly

The primary cause of positional plagiocephaly is pressure on the baby’s skull in the same position over an extended period of time. This pressure can result from factors such as spending too much time lying in a supine position, favoring one side of the head while sleeping, or frequently resting in car seats, swings, or bouncers. Other factors, such as torticollis (tightening of the neck muscles) or prematurity, can also contribute to the development of positional plagiocephaly.

Prevention and Management

While it’s not always possible to prevent positional plagiocephaly, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk. Alternating the direction in which your baby’s head faces while sleeping, providing supervised tummy time while the baby is awake, and limiting the amount of time spent in restrictive devices like car seats and swings can help prevent the condition from developing. If your baby has been diagnosed with positional plagiocephaly, repositioning techniques, physical therapy, or specialized headgear may be recommended by your pediatrician or a specialist.

Emotional Impact on Parents

It’s important to acknowledge the emotional impact that a diagnosis of positional plagiocephaly can have on parents. Feelings of guilt or inadequacy are common, but it’s essential to remember that this condition is not the result of neglect or improper care. Seeking support from other parents, healthcare professionals, or online communities can help ease the emotional burden and provide valuable guidance for managing the condition.


Positional plagiocephaly is a common condition that can cause concern for parents, but with early detection and intervention, the outlook is generally positive. By being mindful of your baby’s positioning and seeking professional guidance when necessary, you can help prevent and effectively manage positional plagiocephaly. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and there are resources available to support you every step of the way.


Q: How common is positional plagiocephaly?

A: Positional plagiocephaly is relatively common, with studies suggesting that up to 1 in 3 infants may experience some degree of head asymmetry.

Q: Will my baby outgrow positional plagiocephaly?

A: In many cases, mild cases of positional plagiocephaly will improve on their own as the baby grows and becomes more mobile. However, it’s important to monitor the condition and seek guidance from a healthcare professional if you have concerns.

Q: How can I encourage tummy time if my baby doesn’t seem to enjoy it?

A: Tummy time can be introduced gradually, starting with short periods and gradually increasing the duration as your baby becomes more accustomed to it. Adding toys or engaging with your baby during tummy time can make the experience more enjoyable.