Positional Plagiocephaly: The Mom’s Essential Handbook


Positional Plagiocephaly: The Mom’s Essential Handbook

If you’ve noticed that your baby’s head looks a little flat or asymmetrical, you might be dealing with positional plagiocephaly. This condition, also known as flat head syndrome, often develops when babies spend a lot of time lying on their backs. But don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do to help improve the shape of your baby’s head and prevent the condition from getting worse. Here’s everything you need to know about positional plagiocephaly and how to address it.

What is Positional Plagiocephaly?

Positional plagiocephaly occurs when a baby’s head develops a flat spot due to prolonged pressure on one part of the skull. This can happen if the baby tends to rest their head in the same position, such as lying on their back in a crib or car seat. While it’s not usually a cause for concern in terms of the baby’s brain development, it can affect the symmetry of the skull and facial features.

Prevention and Treatment

There are several strategies you can use to help prevent and treat positional plagiocephaly. One of the most important things you can do is to encourage tummy time when your baby is awake and being supervised. This will help reduce the pressure on the back of the baby’s head and encourage them to develop strong neck and shoulder muscles.

It’s also a good idea to vary your baby’s head position during sleep. You can do this by gently repositioning their head during naps or by alternating which end of the crib their head is at. If you notice that your baby consistently favors one side, you can also try using toys or other objects to encourage them to turn their head in the opposite direction.

In some cases, a special helmet or headband may be recommended to help reshape your baby’s head. These devices are typically used when repositioning and physical therapy alone aren’t effective. Your pediatrician can provide guidance on whether this type of intervention is necessary for your baby.

Emotional Support

Dealing with positional plagiocephaly can be stressful for parents, but it’s important to remember that it’s a common and treatable condition. It’s also essential to seek support from other parents who may have experienced similar challenges. Connecting with a local parent group or online community can provide you with valuable advice and reassurance as you navigate this journey.


Positional plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, is a common occurrence in babies and young children. By implementing preventive measures such as tummy time and varying your baby’s head position during sleep, you can help reduce the risk of developing this condition. If positional plagiocephaly does occur, there are effective treatment options available, including repositioning techniques and, in some cases, specialized headgear. Remember that seeking emotional support is just as important as addressing the physical aspects of the condition, and don’t hesitate to reach out to other parents and healthcare professionals for guidance.


Q: Will my baby outgrow positional plagiocephaly?

A: In many cases, the head shape will improve as your baby grows and becomes more mobile. However, it’s important to take preventive measures and seek guidance from your pediatrician if you have concerns about your baby’s head shape.

Q: Is it safe for my baby to sleep on their tummy to prevent flat head syndrome?

A: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, supervised tummy time when the baby is awake is an effective way to prevent flat head syndrome.

Q: How long does my baby need to do tummy time each day?

A: Aim for several short sessions of tummy time throughout the day, gradually increasing the duration as your baby gets stronger and more accustomed to this position. Start with just a few minutes at a time and work your way up.

By following these guidelines and staying informed, you can help promote a healthy head shape for your baby and address any concerns about positional plagiocephaly.