Should You Worry If Your Baby Has A Flattened Head?

Many babies are born with a flat spot on their heads. This is caused by pressure on the head during birth and should ideally recover within 6 weeks after birth. If it persists, however, it could mean that your baby has developed the Flat head syndrome, also called plagiocephaly. 

Plagiocephaly is a condition that develops in infants when they are laid down in one position for long exerting pressure on that part of the head. Babies are born with soft and malleable heads to allow for brain growth. While it is recommended that they sleep on their backs, try not to lay your baby in this position all the time as they may develop a flattened head.

How Does the Flat-Head Syndrome Come About?

Flat head syndrome, as the name suggests, presents itself as a flattened area at the back or side of an infant’s head. In extreme cases, it may even affect the ears, eyes and jaw alignment. 

Plagiocephaly becomes more noticeable after 4 months of age. It can also present itself at birth, especially if your baby is born prematurely.

Can a Flattened Head Cause Brain Damage or Delays in Development?

While we cannot approximate the proportion of babies with flattened head that will exhibit developmental delays, there is a likelihood that most of them will develop just perfectly.

Flattened head also does not affect brain growth in children, nor does it bring about brain damage. Read more on Baby’s development here.

Signs and Symptoms

Flat head syndrome is unmistakable. This is why:

  • The back of your baby’s head, also known as occiput, will be flattened on one side and have less hair.
  • The ear located on the flattened side, also looks as if it has been pushed forward.

Treatment Options

While it is advised that you avoid putting babies to sleep on their backs (supine position) all the time, the benefits of laying them on their backs outweigh the risks posed by flat head syndrome. It, for instance helps avert sudden infant death syndrome (SID), a once common cause for infant mortality.

Put your baby to sleep on a flat, steady area and in a smoke free environment. You also need to ensure that the area is free of pillows, toys and any other things. Read about baby sleeping routine and schedules here

Can Your Baby Recover from The Flat-Head Syndrome?

This is what you can do to help your baby recover from a flattened head:

  • Reposition your infant’s head – Do this from left to right and vice-versa often. This should be done when your baby is sleeping in a supine position.
  • Cradle your baby often – This reduces the amount that your baby spends lying on their backs.
  • Tummy time – Practice tummy time more often. Supervised tummy time allows your baby to lie on their stomachs. This should be done during the day, while awake. Not only does this help to recover from the flattened head, but also strengthens neck muscles.
  • Cranial orthotic therapy – In severe cases, your doctor may recommend your baby to wear a plagiocephaly helmet for about 23 hours a day to correct the shape of the head. Its availability in Kenya is however yet to be established


#Please note that development differs from one child to another. 

#Content intended for educational purposes only, and should not be substituted for medical advice from your doctor.

Be careful when using any products mentioned on this website. We hold no regulations for such products or their providers.

Last reviewed January 2019

Sources: kidshealth, babycenter, verywellfamily, theconversation

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