Further Reading

Do I need to worry about my baby’s funny shaped head?

by Katie M. Bell, RPA-C

Many new parents worry whether the shape of their newborn’s head is normal or not. Parents often worry that their baby’s head seems a bit flat on one side or maybe a little uneven. Most of these slight imperfections happen when infants spend too much time in one position in their car seat, crib, or infant carrier.

The condition named occipital plagiocephaly simply means flattened or uneven shape of a baby’s head. Plagiocephaly has become a much more common condition because babies are now put on their backs to sleep. While this condition can be very scary for parents, occipital plagiocephaly is only cosmetic and is not dangerous. It does not affect brain growth nor does it cause brain injury, hearing difficulties, jaw problems, or vision problems.

The best way to prevent occipital plagiocephaly is to avoid keeping your infant’s head in the same position all the time. A few tips to help with this are:

1) Place interesting objects over the infant’s crib to encourage him or her to look around in different directions.

2) Alternate on which side you place your infant’s head when on his or her back.

3) Hold your baby upright when he or she is awake to relieve pressure on the back of the head.

4) Don’t forget to give your baby plenty of tummy time. Not only does this prevent plagiocephaly but it also allows your baby to develop upper body strength to push up and eventually crawl when it’s time.

5) Limit the amount of time your baby spends in the car seat.

The treatment of occipital plagiocephaly is simple. Most infants are treated by simply changing the position of their heads to avoid lying on the same side all the time. Once these changes are made, most flattening improves within 2 to 3 months. If there is no improvement by 5 to 6 months of age or if the condition is worsening, then your pediatrician may refer to a physician with expertise in this area like a pediatric neurosurgeon.