The Lowdown on Positional Plagiocephaly: What Parents Need to Know


The Lowdown on Positional Plagiocephaly: What Parents Need to Know

Welcome, parents! Today, we’re going to talk about a common condition that affects many infants: positional plagiocephaly. You may have heard this term thrown around at your pediatrician’s office or from other parents, but what exactly is it? Let’s dive in and explore everything you need to know about positional plagiocephaly.

What is Positional Plagiocephaly?

Positional plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome, is a condition where a baby’s head becomes flat in one spot. This can happen when a baby spends a lot of time lying on their back, such as during sleep. The soft bones of a baby’s skull can become flat or misshapen due to pressure in one particular area, causing the head to appear asymmetrical.

Causes of Positional Plagiocephaly

There are a few common reasons why positional plagiocephaly occurs:

  • Sleep Position: The “Back to Sleep” campaign has been successful in reducing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but it has also led to an increase in cases of positional plagiocephaly. When babies sleep on their backs, the soft bones of their skull can become flattened by the pressure.

  • Restricted movement: Spending too much time in car seats, bouncers, or swings can also contribute to the development of positional plagiocephaly.

  • Muscle tightness: Some babies have tight neck muscles that limit their range of motion, leading to a preference for looking in one direction and putting pressure on one side of the head.

Prevention and Management

While it’s not always possible to prevent positional plagiocephaly, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk:

  • Give your baby plenty of supervised tummy time when they are awake to help strengthen neck muscles and prevent flat spots on their head.

  • Change your baby’s sleeping position frequently to avoid constant pressure on the same spot.

  • Limit the amount of time your baby spends in car seats, bouncers, and swings, and make sure they have plenty of time for free movement.

If your baby already has positional plagiocephaly, your pediatrician may recommend physical therapy, repositioning techniques, or a helmet to help shape their head. It’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s guidance to ensure the best outcome for your child.

Summing It Up

Positional plagiocephaly is a common concern for parents of young infants, but with proper prevention and management techniques, it can often be addressed effectively. Remember to provide plenty of tummy time, change your baby’s sleeping position regularly, and limit time spent in restrictive devices. If you have any concerns about your baby’s head shape, don’t hesitate to speak with your pediatrician.


Q: Is positional plagiocephaly harmful to my baby?

A: In most cases, positional plagiocephaly is a cosmetic issue and does not cause any harm to your baby’s development. However, severe cases may require medical intervention.

Q: How long does it take for a baby’s head to round out?

A: With proper intervention, most cases of positional plagiocephaly improve within a few months. However, every baby is different, so it’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations.