Spotting and Preventing Positional Plagiocephaly in Infants

As a parent, you want to ensure that your baby is healthy and happy. One common issue that many parents may encounter is positional plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome. This condition occurs when a baby’s head develops a flat spot due to prolonged pressure on one area of the skull.

Spotting Positional Plagiocephaly

It’s important to be aware of the signs of positional plagiocephaly so that you can take steps to address it early on. Some common signs to look out for include:

  • Flattening on one side of the head

  • Uneven or misaligned ears

  • Difficulty turning the head in one direction

  • An overall asymmetrical appearance of the head

Preventing Positional Plagiocephaly

While some cases of positional plagiocephaly may develop despite a parent’s best efforts, there are several steps that can be taken to minimize the risk. Here are some tips for preventing positional plagiocephaly:

  • Encourage tummy time: Allowing your baby to spend supervised time on their tummy helps to prevent constant pressure on the back of the head.

  • Change positions frequently: When your baby is lying down, make sure to alternate the direction their head is facing to prevent prolonged pressure on one area of the skull.

  • Use a firm mattress: Ensure that your baby’s sleep surface is firm and flat, as this can help distribute pressure more evenly on the skull.

  • Avoid extended time in baby gear: Limit the amount of time your baby spends in car seats, bouncers, and swings to reduce the risk of developing a flat spot.

  • Check for torticollis: If you notice that your baby has difficulty turning their head in one direction, it’s important to consult a pediatrician, as this may be a sign of torticollis, which can contribute to positional plagiocephaly.


Positional plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, can be a common concern for parents of infants. By being aware of the signs and taking proactive steps to prevent it, you can help ensure that your baby’s head develops properly. Encourage tummy time, change positions frequently, use a firm mattress, limit time in baby gear, and be proactive in addressing any signs of torticollis. By following these tips, you can help set your baby up for a healthy head shape.


Q: Can I use a special pillow to prevent positional plagiocephaly?

A: It’s best to avoid using special pillows or positioning devices, as they have not been proven to effectively prevent flat head syndrome and may pose a suffocation risk for infants.

Q: At what age does positional plagiocephaly typically become noticeable?

A: Positional plagiocephaly often becomes noticeable within the first few months of life, as babies spend much of their time lying on their backs during this period of rapid development.

Q: Is positional plagiocephaly a serious condition?

A: In most cases, positional plagiocephaly is a cosmetic issue and does not pose any long-term health risks. However, it’s important to address it early on to prevent the development of more severe flat head syndrome.