Flat Head Syndrome(Plagiocephaly): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & prevention

Sonali Kapoor

, Health A2Z

Infant babies are like clay, very flexible, very soft, and delicate.  So, we have to take care of them. Flat head syndrome develops when a baby spends a lot of time lying on his or her back. It doesn’t cause brain damage or interfere with a baby’s development. It might be most noticeable when looking at a baby’s head from above. The cheekbone and ear on the flat side might look pushed forward.


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What is Flat Head Syndrome?


The flat head syndrome is also known as plagiocephaly. It occurs more often if the mother is carrying multiple babies in the womb. When part of a baby’s head becomes flattened due to continued pressure on one spot, varying a baby’s head position can help. If it doesn’t improve by the age of four months, a molded helmet might be required.


What are the Symptoms of Flat Head Syndrome?


There are a few symptoms of the flat head syndrome :


1. Flat area on the back or one side of the head.


2. Bulging on one side of the head.


3. One ear more forward than the other.


4. Unbalanced look to the face.


What are the Causes of Flat Head Syndrome?


There are some causes of flat head syndrome:


1. Sometimes a Baby’s Skull Molded Whilst in the Womb:


Which means babies head can become temporarily deformed as he travels down the birth canal. Also, this can happen as part of multiple births as the babies become squashed within the womb. This sort of molding tends to correct itself without treatment.


2. Premature Baby:


Premature babies are more likely to have an unusual head shape at first because their skulls are less developed.


3. The Muscular Problem:


Sometimes babies will have tightened muscles in their neck (torticollis), which prevents them from turning their head one way and means they will always rest their head on the other side, causing this to flatten.


4. Craniosynostosis:


A flattened skull can come about by the bone plates within the baby’s skull joining together too soon. This can pull the baby’s head out of shape and will need to be corrected with surgery, so it’s worth checking with your GP if you are concerned about the shape of your baby’s head.


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What are the Risk Factors of Flat Head Syndrome?


This condition shows up most usually in babies who :


  • Firstborn


  • Have unusually large heads


  • Premature, twins or multiple births


  • Have had an assisted birth (forceps or ventouse)


  • Have limited ability to turn their head or torticollis (tight or shortened muscle on one side of the neck, causing the chin to tilt to the other side).


There are other factors which are open to change including:


1. Caring for the baby on one side all the time


2. Not enough ‘tummy time’ or carrying where there is no pressure on the head


3. Baby’s preference for turning their head to one side.


What are the Preventions of Flat Head Syndrome?


There are some preventions of the flat head syndrome :


  • The great thing you can do to avoid flat head syndrome is to take preventive measures against your baby developing the condition right from birth. Always put your baby to sleep on his or her back.


  • Change your baby’s position frequently. Don’t let his/her spend too much time in one position. Try to move your baby from the swing to the bouncer, or to the floor for instance. Be sure not to let him spend too much time sleeping in places that aren’t his crib, such as the car seat.


  • Practice lots of supervised tummy time. Fix an aim for at least twenty minutes a day, but the more the merrier, especially if you are concerned with your baby may be developing a flat head.


  • Try a baby carrier. Using a baby carrier that allows your baby to face in, towards your chest, can help take some of the pressure off your baby’s head and work on strengthening those neck muscles all at the same time.


What is the Treatment for Flat Head Syndrome?


There are some treatments of plagiocephaly :


  • In some babies, the shape of the head will correct itself by their first birthday. Gentle flattening of the skull will normally correct itself by the end of the first year or possibly two. This can help with a few simple measures to remove pressure on the affected area of the skull.


  • Changing the position of your baby’s head throughout the day so that the rounded side of his head is placed against the mattress, repositioning cribs and other areas that he spends time in so that he will have to look in a different direction to see you or others in the room.


  • If your baby appears to have discomfort or cries when they are repositioned, they may have a problem with their neck which you can discuss with your health visitor or GP.


  • Some people recommend the use of ‘helmets’ or ’headbands’, known as cranial orthoses to encourage the bones to mold into a more rounded shape. These devices are designed to be used for babies between six and twelve months (during the period of greatest skull growth), to apply pressure to ‘bulgy’ parts of the skull and relieve pressure from other parts.




A flat head syndrome is a serious note for your baby’ condition. The only way to control this, you have to take care of the babies head while sleeping, sitting, and playing etc. If you ever notice any of the above symptoms of the same then, first of all, change the sleeping position of your little one and if you find it is not working then consult pediatric as soon as possible he is the one who can help you out.


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