If your baby has a flat spot on her head that doesn’t go away a few weeks after birth, she may have a condition called flattened head syndrome, or positional plagiocephaly. If it’s not properly treated, the abnormal head shape can last a lifetime.
Babies have very little room inside the uterus towards the end of pregnancy and may get stuck in one position. Twins, or babies who are in a breech position (bottom down), have less room to move around and cannot change position.
Some babies lie in one position most of the time after they are born. A newborn's head is soft and easily molded into a flat shape. If your baby lies on her back with her head in one position for a long time, day after day, her head can get flat on the back or on one side. This can cause a forehead and face that look crooked.
You can start to see flattening as early as 6 weeks of age. You may notice changes in your baby’s face within the first 3 to 6 months.
Your healthcare provider will review your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. Many babies have some flattening, and usually they do not need medical treatment for it.
Your healthcare provider will tell you how to change your baby’s head position, and how often to do this. Often, this is the only treatment your child will need.
In some cases your baby may need special stretching exercises or positioning if her neck muscles are tight or twisted, or have been very cramped in the uterus.
If the flattening is affecting your baby’s face, causing one ear to be further forward than the other ear, or if your baby also has a twisted neck that causes the baby’s head to turn to one side, your child may need a helmet that can help reshape your child's head.
You can help prevent flattening by changing your baby's head position from time to time. This is especially important when your baby is very young and cannot move around a lot.
Here is what you can do to keep your baby from lying in one position too long: