Understanding Positional Plagiocephaly: Tips for Moms


Understanding Positional Plagiocephaly: Tips for Moms

As a new mom, you may have heard the term “positional plagiocephaly” being mentioned, but you may not be entirely sure what it is or how it can affect your baby. Positional plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome, is a condition where a baby’s head develops a flat spot due to prolonged pressure on one area of the skull. This can occur when a baby spends too much time lying in one position, such as on their back, which is recommended to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). While it can be concerning for parents to notice their baby’s head shape changing, there are strategies to prevent and manage positional plagiocephaly.

Prevention Tips

There are several strategies you can use to prevent positional plagiocephaly in your baby:

  • Encourage tummy time: Tummy time is essential for your baby’s development and helps to reduce the risk of flat head syndrome. Aim for at least 30-60 minutes of tummy time each day, starting from when your baby is a few weeks old.

  • Change sleeping positions: While it’s important for babies to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS, you can vary the direction in which your baby’s head faces each night to reduce the likelihood of developing a flat spot.

  • Use a structured carrier: Carrying your baby in a structured carrier can help to relieve pressure on their head and neck, as well as provide valuable bonding time for both of you.

  • Avoid extended time in baby gear: Limit the amount of time your baby spends in swings, bouncers, and car seats, as these can contribute to head flattening if overused.

Managing Positional Plagiocephaly

If you notice that your baby is developing a flat spot on their head, it’s important to take action to manage the condition:

  • Positional changes: Try repositioning your baby’s head during sleep to take pressure off the flat spot. You can also adjust their positioning during awake times to reduce ongoing pressure on the affected area.

  • Physical therapy: In some cases, a pediatric physical therapist may be able to provide exercises and stretches to improve head and neck alignment and reduce plagiocephaly.

  • Specialized pillows and cushions: Some parents find relief by using specialized pillows or cushions designed to promote proper head shape in babies.

When to Seek Medical Advice

If you have concerns about your baby’s head shape or if the flat spot seems severe, it’s important to seek medical advice. Your pediatrician can assess the severity of the condition and provide guidance on the best course of action. In some cases, they may refer you to a specialist for further evaluation and treatment options.


Positional plagiocephaly is a common condition that can be concerning for parents, but with the right strategies, it can be prevented and managed effectively. By incorporating tummy time, varying sleeping positions, and seeking guidance from medical professionals when needed, you can support your baby’s healthy head development and overall well-being.


Q: Is it normal for babies to have a slightly flat head?

A: Yes, it’s common for babies to have a slightly asymmetrical head shape as their skull is still soft and developing. However, if you notice a persistent flat spot, it’s important to take action to prevent it from worsening.

Q: Can I use a specialized head positioner to prevent flat head syndrome?

A: While specialized pillows and positioners are available, it’s important to use them under the guidance of a pediatrician or physical therapist. These products are not always necessary and may not be recommended for all babies.

Q: Will my baby need surgery for positional plagiocephaly?

A: In most cases, surgery is not necessary to correct positional plagiocephaly. Through repositioning, physical therapy, and other strategies, the condition can often be managed without the need for surgical intervention.