19 answers

How Do I Correct a Flat Head?

I have a 9 week old son who is VERY strong and big for his age (he is the size of a 5 month old). He has developed a flat spot on the back of his head from sleeping on his back. The doctor said to move his head when he sleeps, but he has a strong neck and he turns his head right back. I have bought a boppy head pillow for his car seat, but is there anything I can use for him when he's sleeping in his crib? We have plenty of "tummy time" and I don't hold him with the same arm all the time. I don't want his head to remain flat or have him wear one of those helmets. If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate it.

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My daughter also developed a flat spot, she hatted to be on her tummy so that solution did not work for me. My pediatriciansuggested that as soon as my daughter could hold her head up to buy an excesaucer and put her in a few 30 minute intervals throughout the day. That is what i did, I bought the Baby Einstein Exesaucer and followed my doctors advice. My daughter will be three in July and has a perfectly shaped head. The excesaucer also helped in other fine motor development at an early age. Hope that helps.

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My daughter had the same thing, and we went to a craniofacial specialist. He palpated her skull, the points where the bones meet, and said it's normal, and it will correct itself. It was really flat. It started to correct itself when she started rolling on her belly, but even moreso when she started sitting up and then standing up. So, I would get it checked out by the doctor, but at 9 weeks I wouldn't worry about it too much, my daughter's really didn't correct itself until she was about 7 or 8 months, and we didn't need a helmet. If you want, I don't remember his name, but the craniofacial specialists was at St. Peters in New Brunswick and was really good.

My son never developed a flat spot on his head but he did favor one side. They said if we didn't do anything that he would develop a flat spot and some children end up wearing helmets because it. We found out that he had an injury during the delivery and had scar tissue on one side.We went to physical therapy and he was diagnosed with torticollis. They had stretches and exercises that I had to do on a daily basis. I would see about going to physical therapist and have him checked. If his neck is that hard to turn then he may have the same thing my son had. He was diagnosed at 2 months and it 14 mos now and is fine because the early intervention. One of things we had to do is turn his head when he was sleeping. If you do notice that he also favors one side then always talk to him on the opposite side and have this changing table set up so he look at you away from the favorite side.... I hope this helps

when my kids were babies (almost 15 and almost 10 yrs ago) they was something that we used called "wedges". it was specifically made for the baby to sleep on his/her side.

The best thing you can do is offer a variety of positions during the day. Try not to use the carseat as a carrier as often as possible. For example take him out of the carseat and put him in baby carrier, like a bjorn or even one of the wraps or slings that are available. I loved the Moby wrap. You could also use the stroller as it is probably better padded than the carseat is. You could even get a peice of memory foam and use that if he's laying on the floor at home. (get a piece that his whole body would fit on) It sounds like you're doing the right thing trying to turn his head but as you mentioned they do have a mind of their own. As he gets older and is able to control/manage his positioning more he will begin to take the pressure off himself, unfortunately at 9 weeks that might take a while. The good news is at this age their heads are very easily reshaped. Good Luck

My son was also a very large baby - 9 lbs 10 oz. He developed a slight flat spot on his head and at his two month visit the pediatrician diagnosed a slight torticollis. It is a shortening of the muscles on one side of the neck and can cause them to look to one side and have a slight head tilt (some cases are more pronounced, but my son's was pretty moderate). We didn't even really notice it until we went back and looked at all his baby pictures and realized that he was almost always looking to the same side. This is why he had the flat spot - because he was usually lying in the exact same spot - and it may be why your son always turns his head back after you move it.

It is more common in large and first babies as they are very cramped in the uterus before they are born. We went to an orthopedic specialist and she authorized physical therapy. Because his case wasn't very severe, we went once a week and did stretching at home. The stretching is designed to lengthen the muscles on the short side and strengthen the muscles on the other side so they hold their head better. You can find the stretches on line and the earlier you start the easier as when they get older, they tend to fight the stretching more.

My son finished therapy after 6 months and at his 1 year visit was completely normal. And once he started sitting up more, his flat spot went away.

My son had a flat head. I bought those bumpers for the crib.. they look like triangles kind of.. and each day... i would prop him on one side and then on the other side tomake his head even out.. it went away but it took a while of making sure he slept on his side.. You can also let him sleep on his tummy for naps a little since he can hold his head really good. One of my kids only slept on their stomach from 2 months on.. otherwise he would cry. good luck.. just keep turning him

Hi L.,
Sorry you and your little guy are going through that! I think you are wise to get on it early. I have friends that are dealing with it for their 5 month old. They are trying one last resort before the helmet. They have 2 10 lb. bags of rice in separate pillow cases that they wedge up on their baby to make sure she sleeps on her side. You need to keep alternating sides. The rice pillow goes all the way up the back and then only to about her chest in the front so she can breathe. The baby didn't like it at first but now is fine and kind of cuddles the rice pillow. Do your best to keep him from being on his back - swings, floor toys, car seat, etc. Keep discussing it with your doctor too.

I do not think you need to be worried at this point since he is only 9 weeks old. With an infant that young there is not much that you can control other than what you are already doing. Tummy time is very important to prevent this, but so is altering other things in your daily routine. For instance, instead of leaving him in a bouncy seat or car seat, carry him in an upright baby carrier.

When he gets a bit older you can use things like a bumbo, or an entertainment center. And as he develops more muscle control & skills he will be able to hold his head and control it. Just be sure to stimulate him as he grows so that he wants to change positions.

A neighbor of mine always left her son in his car seat and rarely took him out because he was an easy baby and did not complain. He ended up with a severly misshapen head and even after using the helmet, at 4 years old, it is still deformed.

Hi L.-
Babies R Us sells a pillow called a "Noggin Nest" It's a pillow with a hole in the center which helps prevent flat head
Hope this helps

As long as the doctor says your baby boy is fine, I wouldn't worry about it. Once he gets a little bigger, you won't have to worry about him sleeping on his back. As a new mom, it's normal to worry, but his head will probably be fine! God Bless!

Don't worry about it! Flat head syndrome and bald spots are side effects of the 'Back is Best" campaign against SIDS, but they are nothing to be concerned about. An infant's head is still moulding and changing for a while, and it will correct itself over time. At some point your baby sill start to roll on his side to sleep and eventually onto his belly (despite your best efforts to keep him on his back or side-just like he puts his head back to the same spot now) and the back of his head will come back to a nice round shape. My son started sleeping on his side (and back) at 4 months, but maybe if your baby is strong and determined he'll do it sooner.

hi L., i dont want to be a pain or anything, but i had to comment because of the other posts you got... please please do not put him to sleep with any pillows or bumpers or on his tummy,,, they all put him at risk for sids. sorry, its the facts. i know lots of people do it and everything was fine, my parents did it, as did their whole generation. however, sids is down around 40% since the back to sleep campaign. thats a big percentage. its not worth it. as for the flat spot, get him out of the bouncy/swing/ whatever more often if you can, just put him on the floor whenever you can. once he moves around more, it will probably even out. and in the crib i would recommend maybe hanging a mobile or putting one of those music lights things attached to the side of the crib to draw his attention to that side. if this doesnt work, you might want to be sure the doc checks his neck,, i had 2 friends who had babies with a short ligament or something in their neck which made it physically difficult to turn to one side. both very easily corrected with a short duration of physical therapy. and if he does end up with the helmet, its really not a big deal. a couple of my friends had it, it seems like it will be awful at first, but its not. its pretty cute, and its just a short while, and my friend was actually more relaxed because she wasnt always worried when he would fall all the time when he was learning to walk! either way it will be ok, just please keep him safe in the crib.

I agree with some of responses, the head will mold over time and try the wedges which I got from someone and used it for my third son when he wasa an infant because he was able to roll over, less a month old and it was scary. Try putting him on his tummy for tummy time and you will haveto eventually do it later on and be there with him when it's tummy time. That helps for build up strenth in the neck and crawling time. My oldest was five weeks early and help up his head the first week and my second came a week early and was lifting and began holding his head up in three days after birth. So, it's okay if you sit him up and how about those bumby seats. Right now it's a little too small but wiill be great when he's about four motns or so, wait aminute you said that he's big, try those bumby seats those are great. Tummy time, Bumby seats, and seating up in car seats and wedges. Thsoe are ideas I have that seem good and make surey ou occasionally put him on his back, can be just only sleeping time at night. Then other times throughout the day and hnaps move him in different positions. Hope this helped and congrats on your baby boy!! Let us or me know how it goes and if you have any more questions let me know.

I'm glad to hear that you are working closely with your pediatrician to address the symptoms your son is showing, It is very fortunate that Flat Head Syndrome can be prevented and corrected in the early stages. You are implementing a lot of helpful techniques. A few more things for you to try: When feeding your baby, try alternating the arm you hold him in, and encourage him to turn his head to a different side each time he is fed. Alternate the side of the changing table you stand on when changing his diaper to encourage him to turn his head in alternate directions in order to look at you. Make sure to implement plenty of supervised “tummy time” during the day, and try to wear your baby as much as possible. Finally, try massaging your son's neck when he is relaxed and calm to encourage stretching on both sides of the neck. Place interesting and stimulating toys in new locations around his room so he will have to turn his head different directions in order to see the toys. Keep being proactive and keep talking to your pediatrician about any concerns. Feel free to visit my website www.babytortle.com or my FB page www.facebook.com/DrJaneScott for more information and to join the mission to end plagiocephaly!

Hi Leah,
I'm not a physical therapist, but I would ask your little guy's pediatrician if he/she feels it could be torticollis (sp?). All that is is a shortening/tightness of the muscles on one side of the neck that causes a little one to prefer one side. It may be not just that your little guy has a strong neck, but that he is physically uncomfortable having it in another position. The result is flatness on one side of the head because that's where it always ends up when your son is lying down. Intervention is really simple and basically involves stretches and 'exercises'/strategies that a physical therapist can show you and work with your son on (if that's even it). I don't want to scare you, but just put this thought out there as a possibility. I'm an SLP in early intervention and have seen many little ones with this corrected no problem. Let me know if you have any questions!
Take care,

Try putting a Boppy Pillow (not the head rest) under his head when he sleeps. At least it's a little softer. There is some form of head massage that you can do as well. Their little bones are still very soft and maleable. I haven't done it, but my grandmother massaged my father's head b/c it was flat when he was born and it worked!

Hi L.. When my baby was born, she had a very strong preference to keep her head turned to the right (it must have been because of how she was positioned in the womb), and as a result, she developed a flat spot because she always slept with her head in the same direction. We worried and the doctor said to move the head in the other direction. We would move it and the baby would cry (I actually think it hurt her). So we'd move it when the baby was asleep. You have to do the same, even if he turns it right back, you have to just keep moving it back to how you want it. With time, he will get used to it and stop turning his head back. Sometimes, we would also put a rolled up towel or a blankie on the other side (she was in a bassinet so we'd put it right against the bassinet wall and she couldn't turn her head back like she wanted), but you have to make sure you're there watching so that the baby doesn't suffocate. You can do that during day naps for example. Even in the car seat, she'd always have her head in one direction, and I would prop it with a towel or blanket as soon as she fell asleep. Her head is perfectly round now and no helmet was needed. So just be persistent, I think the boppy is a great idea for the car seat, but try propping the head with something on one side, then the other side, and that should work. You just have to keep doing it, don't give up (and if you need extra motivation, look up some pictures of babies in helmets online, they really look uncomfortable). Also, have you tried putting him to sleep on his side? He may like it. Good luck!

Have you tried letting him sleep on his belly? Get yourself a BabeSafe mattress cover (they sell them in all sizes from bassinet to crib to twin bed). Just google it and you'll find USA sources, mostly midwives. It's a heavy plastic cover that goes over the mattress with venting holes on the bottom. The doctor who developed them is in New Zealand, where they have NO SIDS as a result. He believes that SIDS is from the flame-retardant chemicals they put in mattresses - antimony, phosphorous, and ARSENIC. All are toxic and heavier than air, so if the mattress gets wet (from drool, spit-up, etc) and the chemicals start breaking down, the gasses hover just above the surface of the mattress, right where a tummy-sleeping baby's face is. With a properly wrapped mattress, you can feel safe letting your baby sleep on his belly, as all of the gases will vent through the holes on the bottom and dissipate towards the floor. All three of my kids would only sleep well once they slept that way, and not one of them had a mis-shapen head. Good luck!

My daughter also developed a flat spot, she hatted to be on her tummy so that solution did not work for me. My pediatriciansuggested that as soon as my daughter could hold her head up to buy an excesaucer and put her in a few 30 minute intervals throughout the day. That is what i did, I bought the Baby Einstein Exesaucer and followed my doctors advice. My daughter will be three in July and has a perfectly shaped head. The excesaucer also helped in other fine motor development at an early age. Hope that helps.

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