Baby's Head Size

Updated on August 05, 2010
A.K. asks from Saint Paul, MN
15 answers

My son was born with a small head. He's now 3 months old and continues to be in the 1-4% for head size. My doctor is freaking me out about things that could be wrong. I would like to hear from moms who have kids with small heads too. Should I be concerned? To be clear, he's also at about 4% for weight so he's very proportional. And his head has consistently grown at each check-up.

Add'l note: He is also meeting milestones appropriate for his age - he's smiling, "talking", laughing, follows things with his eyes, holds his head up very well, starting to reach for things. And my husband has a slightly smaller-than-average head (hat size was usually smaller than other guys in h.s. and college for baseball) and my head is long and narrow, although I've never actually measured to see if it's small.

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answers from Green Bay on

My son was also born with a small head. We've been to every kind of doctor and had bunches of tests. He's fine. Try not to worry, especially since his head seems to be growing.

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answers from Los Angeles on

i am so sorry that you are dealing with this, i know exactly how much anxiety you are experiencing! when my son was 4 months, he was 5% for his head, 15% in weight (he's now 25% at 6 months), and 95% in height! he is long and skinny, but doesn't look terribly out of proportion - in fact, his head visually looks appropriately large for his body. he has been consistent with his curves, and has met or exceeded all his milestones. HOWEVER! at his 4 month checkup, the doctor thought his head measurement was suddenly of concern, so she measured my head, which is apparently large for a woman. my husband also has a large head. then she started to throw out all of the worst case scenarios (with pictures!) - ie sutures that have closed too soon, and the mutations that can be caused by that, small brain size, possible brain surgery, etc. talk about overwhelming! needless to say, i left the office in tears with a recommendation to see a specialist. i saw two, actually - the 2 very best doctors in los angeles for pediatric head concerns - because i think it is always important to get a second opinion (medicine is an art, and every doctor has their own idea on how to resolve things). both doctors told me he was perfectly fine and not to worry! one did this purely by sight; the other measured him with calipers and did a bunch of other diagnostics. they both mentioned that because he was mantaining a curve, even if it was a low one, he would be fine, and that i should not be worried bc he is meeting his milestones and is happy and healthy otherwise.

i share my experience because what i realized after all of this is that pediatricians are NOT specialists... they are there to bring you through the basics, but they won't have the answers to everything. so take him wherever you need to take him to get as much peace of mind as you need, but know that he is probably perfectly fine. i ended up switching peds after all of this - not because she suggested that there might be an issue, but because she dealt with it in such an inflammatory way. i realized i needed someone to support me through these early-childhood years who had a more professional, straightforward, non-inflammatory approach. being a first time mom is scary enough, and i can freak myself out by looking stuff up on the internet, thankyouverymuch. i don't need a pediatrician who will do it, too. it was a little awkward to "break up" with her, but once i saw my new pediatrician, i realized i had really made the right call. something for you to consider....

so good luck to you, momma - there is so much to worry about, but you are doing a great job in trying to figure it all out for him. keep it up...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My baby was born with a small head as well. When I left the NICU with her the NICU doc actually told me "smal head, small brain." Freaked me the BLEEP out. She was born 4 weeks early and very proportioned. She had 3 peds in a short amount of time (due to moving and insurance change). The first one had me put her on a high calorie formula to "make her head grow," and she told me that she was sure nothing would be wrong. The Second ped had me continue the high calorie formula, but told me if things didn't progress by 6 months they would have to do extensive testing (part of her "reasoning" was because it looked like I had a larger head and so did my boyfriend so our baby would definately have a larger head if something wasn't wrong...I am not so sure I agree). The 3rd had me keep her on the same formula, but didn't think there was anything wrong because she consistently gained cm's with every checkup (even though is was a small amount at a time). My baby gained so much weight on that formula you would never guess she was a preemie.
By 5 months we agreed to take her off because her weight was increasing (she also went through some major growth spurts). Eventually by 6/7 months it wasn't an issue and was never brought up again. She hit all her milestones and was on tract developmentally. When I look at her now (16 mo) to me she still has a smaller head then other kids (some kids have big heads) but again she's hit all her milestones and is on tract. What I did was measured her head at home, and wrote down when she achieved milestones and kept all that in a journal to take with me to the ped (you can find "general" milestones on-line. I like the one's from baby center). It gave me piece of mind when her ped and I would discuss it just because I had continuously charted everything to make sure it was really happening.
So my experience was NICU doc freaked me out/ped calmed me down/ped freaked me out (didn't like her reasoning)/ped that calmed me down. The only advice I can give you is to hang in there and keep a close eye on it. Big hugs, good luck! =)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

I have had the opposite experience. My younger daughter's head has always been really big. Big to the point that when I took her to her first newborn visit at the doctor, the nurse's assistant measured her head, wrote down the measurement on the chart, and then a few minutes later, the nurse came in shaking her head and mumbling about how the assistant didn't do it right, she measures my daughter's head and was clearly shocked that the number was correct, and here comes the pediatrician who measured her head AGAIN! By this time I'm thinking, no wonder I can barely walk and it's a week after birth! LOL

Anyway, long story short, the child just turned 5 and is absolutely fine. She still has a big head but what the heck. The whole thing about an "average" head size is that some people have bigger heads and some people have smaller heads. Not everyone is going to be exactly average. And realistically, what could you do about it, anyway? I can't shrink my kid's head, and you can't make your kid's head any bigger. They are who they are. As long as they're happy and healthy, that's what counts.



answers from Sioux Falls on

My son had a small head when he was a baby and other people were worried about it my son's doctors reply to them was Einstein had a small head and he was considered a genius Don't worry to much as long as he is meeting his milestones just enjoy your little one



answers from Grand Forks on

I'm going to second Momma M. Your baby sounds healthy and wonderful. Something to remember is that the doc's chart is a range of what is normal. What is often forgotten is that *somebody* has to be the one to be in the 1-4% range! And the 1-4% range is still a normal size, if a small one. So your little guy just happens to be the healthy small normal.

Funny thing is that they don't freak out if the baby is in the 95-100% range! My friend's son was in that range and they never said a thing. But it's the same "story", just on the exact other side of the spectrum of normal!

Doctors are human, and make mistakes in judgement just like the rest of us. If your doctor won't stop freaking you out, find another one who listens better. There is no reason for him/her to whip you into a constant tizzy of worry over a normal but small baby. You can keep an eye on it, just in case, but as long as baby keeps consistently growing and hitting those milestones, enjoy your baby!



answers from Beaumont on

Wow, I feel so much better after reading this. My son is 7 months today and he had a visit to check his weight because he is also below the 5th% (in all areas). He has grown in all areas at every check-up, but now I am freaking out because his pediatrician ordered a cat scan to look at his head. I am trying not to worry too much because, even though his head is small, so is his body. He's just petite. He doesn't look abnormal in any way, and he is hitting his milestones. Some babies are just small. I am sure your baby is just fine, and I'm praying everything comes back okay on my son's cat scan.



answers from Los Angeles on

My son also has a head on the small size (in the 10%ile usually). My pediatrician told us that as long as his head grows at a consistent rate, then we don't have to be worried. I worried anyway - but now, at 21 months, he is ahead of the curve on most developmental milestones, and still has a small head for his age. So, yes, it could be something, and you should definitely discuss this with the pediatrician ... but it also could be nothing.



answers from Portland on

My daughter was 105%. 85% weight. 95 % height So close to proportional. My family happens to have big heads. What are hat sizes like for the rest of the family? It could be just genes.



answers from Minneapolis on

My daughter was in the 10% for head size. I only noticed her head was small when she was around other kids, who to me, had heads so large, I couldn't believe their necks could support the weight. More likely than not, he will be fine. The fact that he is in proportion makes me think that he might just be a smaller child for a while. My kid was just tiny for the first year and a half then over night, she sprouted. Now she's tall and skinny with a noggin in the 40% range. He's so young now and a lot will change and quickly too. As long as he's hiting mile stones and continuing to grow, he'll be fine. Just remember to always buy his hat one size smaller!


answers from Chicago on

Um, don't worry about it, it has nothing to do with her intelligence!

My DS (2) has a small head. So do I, so I know where he gets it from. I, for example, wear a kids XL sized baseball hat. I bought some hats for DS, and he is swimming in 18-24mos size. I mean, *swimming*.
He's very smart, quick to learn and doing just fine. He's on the small side also. Usually 10-15th percentile overall.

Don't worry about it. If he's proportional and growing with each apt, he's fine.



answers from Minneapolis on

Oh my, I'm so sorry your doctor is causing you anxiety. Our son has a tiny head too ~2% range since birth and more average in height and weight. Both my husband and I have smaller heads and our ped said head size is very genetic so it isn't surprising that the son has a small head too. The ped said as long as he continues to track as he grows (no sudden drop-off or anything) not to worry. If your son it healthy and meeting his other milestones it is probably nothing to worry about. Enjoy your little one and best of luck.


answers from Appleton on

I cannot relate to small head size, but the opposite. My son had abnormal growth and was diagnosed with a neuro issue we monitor. The thing is, his head size was always big and not really proportionate. Around the time he was diagnosed, it jumped well over the normal numbers. Given your baby is ranging in other measurements in the lower numbers I would not be concerned. Doctor's can scare with possible diagnoses. If you are concerned, get a second opinion and if not concerned, but scared by what the doctor is saying, don't concern yourself with it and tell the doctor they are causing extra worry. You know best if something doesn't seem right. I knew my son was ill weeks before we finally got an issue and if you feel your child is okay, surely they are. Good luck!



answers from Omaha on

My daughter is always in the 8-15% range for head size. My husband also has a small head (size 6 7/8 hat size). My doctor said not to be concerned unless my daughter's head size goes lower on the curve. She's in now in the 24th percentile for weight and 15th for head size.

My niece, on my side of the family, has the opposite problem. She's somewhere in the 90th percentile for head size and 20th for weight.



answers from Milwaukee on

I have one of both, a small headed son and a big headed son. My side of the family tends to have smaller heads (I find kids hats fit me best :) ) My husband has a huge head. So my 3 year old has a small head, he went between 10% to 25% for head size and his height and weight are always been 90-100% so his head is small for his size too. He looks fine and always met his milestones and to us seems very smart for his age. So small heads asbsoutely do not mean dumber. My 1 year old almost has the same size head as my 3 year old because it is so big. My 3 year old was talking and doing more than my 1 year old at that age. There are reasons to be concern when a head is small or big but watching your baby you should be able to tell at 3 months if there might be problems. Does your baby smile? Does your baby look around, hold his head up, etc? Look for the milestones for a 3 month old and see if your son reaches at least half of them. That should give you peace of mind. If his head is staying consistent, my guess would be he is fine. If your doctor is really concerned, see a specialist and that way you know one way or the other. Put the whole thing past you or deal with a potential problem.
Healthy small headed children do exist!
Good Luck,

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