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Understanding Flat Head Syndrome in Babies: A Guide for Parents

Welcome to our Physiotherapy practice’s web blog, where we aim to provide valuable information and support to parents.

Today, we’ll be discussing the topic of flat head syndrome in babies, also known as positional plagiocephaly. We understand that as a parent, you may have concerns about your baby’s head shape and we’re here to help you understand this condition and explore potential treatment options.

What is Flat Head Syndrome?

Flat head syndrome refers to the flattening of one side or the back of a baby’s head, resulting in an asymmetrical appearance. This condition commonly occurs due to prolonged pressure on a particular area of the skull, often caused by repeated positioning or resting on the same spot. It’s important to note that flat head syndrome does not affect brain development or cause any cognitive impairments.

Causes and Risk Factors:

Several factors can contribute to the development of flat head syndrome in infants, including

  • Positioning: Spending excessive time lying on the back or in one position can increase the risk.
  • Premature birth: Premature babies have softer skulls, making them more susceptible.
  • Limited neck movement: Babies with restricted neck movement (torticollis) may be at higher risk.
  • Multiple births: Twins or multiples may have less room to move in the womb, increasing the likelihood of developing flat head syndrome.
Prevention and Home Care Tips:

While not all cases of flat head syndrome can be prevented, there are some proactive steps you can take as a parent to minimize the risk:

  • Tummy time: Encourage supervised tummy time when your baby is awake and alert, which helps strengthen neck and shoulder muscles.
  • Changing positions: Regularly change your baby’s head position while sleeping, feeding, or playing.
  • Alternate holding: Avoid consistently carrying your baby on one hip; instead, alternate sides to encourage balanced head movement.
  • Limit time in baby gear: Minimize the use of car seats, strollers, and bouncers, as they can put prolonged pressure on the head.
Treatment Options:

If your baby develops flat head syndrome, rest assured that there are effective treatment options available. Consulting a physiotherapist experienced in paediatric care is highly recommended. Some common treatment approaches include:

  • Repositioning techniques: A physiotherapist can guide you on various repositioning strategies to reduce pressure on the affected area.
  • Tummy time exercises: Engaging in supervised tummy time activities helps strengthen neck muscles and promotes natural head shape.
  • Stretching exercises: If your baby has torticollis, the physiotherapist may recommend specific stretching exercises to improve neck mobility.
  • Helmet therapy: In severe cases, a custom-fitted cranial helmet may be recommended to gently reshape the baby’s head over time. This treatment is safe and non-invasive.
Seeking Professional Help:

Remember, every baby is unique, and the severity of flat head syndrome can vary. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or paediatrician, who can assess your baby’s condition and provide personalized advice.


Flat head syndrome is a common condition that can be effectively managed with appropriate care and professional guidance. By understanding the causes, implementing preventive measures, and seeking the help of a qualified physiotherapist, parents can support their baby’s healthy head shape and development.

We hope this article has provided you with valuable insights into flat head syndrome. If you have any concerns or need further assistance,  don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly team at Movement Solutions. We’re here to help you and your little one thrive!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not replace professional medical advice. Always consult with a healthcare professional for accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment.

Melissa Locke, Consultant Physiotherapist

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