How Do Babies Develop Flat Head?

It’s a common concern for parents and caregivers when they notice their baby’s head is becoming flat. As babies spend most of their time lying down, they are at a higher risk of developing a flat head, technically known as “positional plagiocephaly.” In this article, we’ll discuss how babies develop flat head and what parents can do to prevent it.

Causes of Flat Head Syndrome

There are several factors that can contribute to a baby developing a flat head. Here are the most common:

Flat Head SyndromeSource:

1. Sleeping Position

The most common cause of flat head syndrome is the baby’s sleeping position. Babies who sleep on their back or spend too much time lying in one position can develop a flat spot on their head.

2. Premature Birth

Premature babies have softer skulls and spend more time lying down in the hospital. This can increase their risk of developing a flat head.

3. Torticollis

Torticollis is a condition where a baby’s neck muscles are tight or shortened on one side, causing them to favor looking in one direction. This can lead to a flat spot on the side where they prefer to look.

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4. Plagiocephaly

Plagiocephaly is a cranial deformity that can occur in the womb or during birth. It can cause a baby’s head to be misshapen, leading to a flat spot on their head.

Prevention and Treatment

Fortunately, there are things parents can do to prevent and treat flat head syndrome:

1. Tummy Time

Tummy time is essential for babies as it helps them develop their neck and back muscles, which they need to hold their head up. It also gives them a break from lying on their back, reducing the risk of developing a flat spot on their head.

2. Change Positions

Parents should change their baby’s position regularly to prevent them from lying on one spot for too long. This includes changing the position of their head in the crib and holding them in different positions throughout the day.

3. Correct Torticollis

If a baby has torticollis, parents should work with their pediatrician or a physical therapist to correct the condition. This may involve stretching exercises or repositioning techniques to help the baby favor the other side.

4. Helmet Therapy

In severe cases of flat head syndrome, a pediatrician may recommend helmet therapy. This involves the baby wearing a custom-fitted helmet that applies gentle pressure to the flat spot, encouraging the skull to grow into a more rounded shape.


Flat head syndrome is a common condition that affects many babies. While it can be concerning for parents, there are things they can do to prevent and treat it. By practicing tummy time, changing positions regularly, correcting torticollis, and seeking treatment if necessary, parents can help their baby develop a round, healthy head shape.

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If you have any concerns about your baby’s head shape, speak to your pediatrician. They can assess the situation and provide guidance on prevention and treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long should I do tummy time for?

Starting from birth, babies should have at least 30 minutes of tummy time throughout the day. As they get older, parents can increase this time gradually.

2. How often should I change my baby’s position?

Parents should change their baby’s position every 2-3 hours, including during naps and nighttime sleep. This helps prevent them from lying on one spot for too long.

3. Can flat head syndrome cause developmental delays?

Flat head syndrome does not cause developmental delays. However, if it is severe and left untreated, it can lead to cosmetic issues and may require helmet therapy.

4. What can I do if my baby doesn’t like tummy time?

Some babies may not enjoy tummy time at first, but parents can make it more enjoyable by placing toys or a mirror in front of them. Additionally, parents can do tummy time with their baby, making it a fun bonding experience.

5. How long does helmet therapy take?

Helmet therapy typically lasts for several months, depending on the severity of the baby’s flat spot. During this time, the baby will wear the helmet for 23 hours a day, with breaks for bathing and cleaning.

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