Understanding Torticollis: What Every Parent Should Know

As a parent, it can be alarming to see your baby’s head tilted to one side or their neck muscles appear stiff. This condition, known as torticollis, is not uncommon among infants, but it can be concerning for parents who may not be familiar with it. In this article, we will provide an overview of torticollis and what every parent should know about this condition.

Understanding Torticollis

Torticollis, also referred to as “wry neck,” is a condition characterized by the tilting of the head to one side due to the shortening or tightness of the neck muscles. This can result in limited range of motion and discomfort for the baby. Torticollis can be congenital, meaning it is present at birth, or acquired later on. It is more common in first-born children and affects boys and girls equally.

There are two types of torticollis: congenital muscular torticollis (CMT) and acquired torticollis. CMT is the most common type and is typically caused by the baby’s position in the womb or by trauma during childbirth. Acquired torticollis can be caused by other underlying issues such as infections or injuries.

Signs and Symptoms

It is important for parents to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of torticollis. Some common indications of torticollis in infants include:

  • Preference for turning the head to one side

  • Stiffness or tightness in the neck muscles

  • Difficulty turning the head side to side

  • Flat spot on the baby’s head (plagiocephaly) due to prolonged pressure on one side

What Every Parent Should Know

If you suspect that your baby may have torticollis, it is important to consult with a pediatrician or a physical therapist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Early intervention is key to addressing torticollis and preventing long-term complications. Treatment for torticollis may include stretching exercises, positioning techniques, and in some cases, orthotic devices to help improve the baby’s head and neck alignment.

Parents can also play a proactive role in managing torticollis by performing gentle stretching exercises with their baby and ensuring that the baby is not always laying or looking in the same direction. Tummy time and supervised playtime can also help encourage the baby to move their head and neck in different directions.


Torticollis is a common and treatable condition that may cause concern for parents, but with early intervention and proper management, most babies with torticollis can achieve full recovery and normal development. If you have any concerns about your baby’s head and neck positioning, do not hesitate to seek guidance from healthcare professionals who can provide the support and resources you need to help your baby thrive.


Q: Can torticollis cause long-term problems for my baby?

A: With early intervention and proper treatment, most babies with torticollis can achieve full recovery and normal development. However, untreated torticollis can lead to long-term issues with neck mobility and head shape.

Q: Is torticollis painful for the baby?

A: Torticollis can cause discomfort and limited range of motion for the baby, but with proper management and gentle exercises, the discomfort can be minimized.