Baby's Misshapen Head
Berkeley Parents Network >
Baby's Misshapen Head
Our son is 7 months old and since he
was about 3 months his head has been noticeably flat. We had him evaluated at CHO at 4 months and
again at 6.5 months. Both times they said that his head should continue to round out some and that
they did not recommend a helmet. They said they would prescribe one if we wanted to pursue it
anyway and the treatment would take about 2 months. His head has improved slightly but is still
very flat/indented on the back and the overall shape is definitely more blocky than round. We
believe it will always be somewhat flat - the degree of flatness being the big unknown. We have
agonized over this decision (should we put him through this, how we/he would feel later if it
doesn't round out, how important is ''perfection'' etc.). The window is closing for us to decide
as this is one of those things you can't go back and fix later. Wondering what people's experience
has been with the helmet itself. How did your child/you respond to it? Anyone else go with the
helmet voluntarily? Are you glad you did? Wish you didn't? Didn't but wish you had? Thanks in
Go to see a cranial specialist immediately. Every day counts because you might
miss a crucial growth spurt where you can significantly reduce the flatness. It
takes about a month to get an appointment at Children's Hospital so make your
appointment with your pediatrician immediately to get a referral. I highly
recommend Dr. Toth. Seriously, a helmet or band is not a big deal at all, if you
catch it early, you could be looking at a few months of adjustment, versus a
LIFETIME of flatness. It does not get better on it's own. By age one the ability to
adjust is significantly lower and by age two there is virtually nothing you can do
to fix it. Right now check out the Plagio/Brachy Yahoo group for extremely helpful
advice and interventions you can start at home now, like having your baby sleep on
the other side, never letting his head touch the stroller/seat, etc during the day.
Hi there!I completely understand what you are going through. We agonized over that
decision too. My daughter (who's now 3 years old) used one. She developed a flat
head and was slow to crawl, sit, etc.. (probably because of sleeping on her back),
and had torticolis. At around 5-6 months of age she went to physical therapy to try
to correct the torticolis, with repositioning exercises, etc.. this and help her
position. We did all the exercises, but after 2 months of therapy her flatness did
not improved; she slowly learn to sit, roll, etc.., but was slower than most
babies. The physical therapy was good for those things, but didn't do much for the
flatness (I guess, it was already late for the head to reshape by itself, but
that's my guess...). At around 8 months of age we had to make a decision too. It
wasn't clear what the cons of having a flat head would be (besides the aesthetic),
but the window was closing too for us. Some evidence in the literature says that
it's important to correct that for proper cognitive development, etc.., but that
wasn't clear and a couple of doctors we saw didn't think that either, but didn't
oppose to using one. But our physical therapist heavily recommended. Either we did
right then, or she would have a flat head. Against what we first thought, our
daughter didn't mind the helmet at all; she first was surprised, but by the second
or third day she was wearing it constantly except during her bath (her hair sweat
though, so you should start it before the summer) and to take an occasional
picture. She didn't care. Most of the improvement in flatness happened within the
first month, and then, after a little over two months, her head became much rounder
and we were done with the helmet. She was surprised when we took it off, and tried
to put it back on. I would say there are no downsides to do it (if $$ is a concern,
then that's other story). People might look at your kid sort of funny, like he has
something weird, but you can explain, and these days you see more and more of this. All this said, this was more than 2 years ago, and the advice on this might
have changed. You say your doctors do not recommended it, or think it's necessary.
I would say that the other important thing is to make sure that your kid sits a
lot, doesn't spend a lot of time on his back, etc... One of the reasons why there
are so many flat heads today is that, babies sleeping on their backs. There has
been a large increase in the number of babies that develop torticolis, because
their necks are weaker as they do not spend much time in their tummies early on.
Good luck with your decision! Carolina.
I agonized over the decision about the baby helmet, as well. Our baby's head kept
getting flatter and flatter because she always looked one direction when she slept.
Dr. Toth at CHO told us that it likely would not correct itself, so we went ahead
with it. Looking back, it was totally not a big deal. She had it on for just shy of
3 months, and did not seem to even care about it being there. It did not influence
her sleep or anything like that. I took it off each day for an hour or so when I
bathed her and washed her hair (the helmet made it really stinky!). We are really
happy that we made the decision to do it, as it was very easy to fix when she was
so little (6 months). The only thing that bothered me about it was that people in
the supermarket, etc... kind of shied away from her or us, perhaps thinking that
she had some head injury or something. Funny thing was that parents with toddlers
approached me and asked where I got it, claiming that they needed it for all the
head bumps. Anyways, I would go for it. Taking action now is better than regretting
non action in the future.
our baby had a very very flat head that peaked maybe around 7 months, right before he
started to sit and crawl. I was worried but the doctor said it would be fine so we didn't
do anything about it. Now that he is 2 it is completely not noticeable. The doctor was
right, his head grew so much that what seemed like a huge flat spot is now a tiny little
flat spot on the back of his head under all his hair. I'm glad we let him be.
My son had a big flat spot at around 2 months. All the pediatricians I asked at Kaiser (I
think I got 3 opinions) felt a helmet was not needed as it was completely symmetrical. I
agonized about it too. In the end we decided not to do it for various reasons. 1)
cost...we don't have that kind of money to get a helmet and our insurance did not cover it
2) there is no guarantee it would work or how well it would work 3) it potentially could
round out on its own with out all the cost or the hassle 4) in most cases it is purely
cosmetic. In your case it does not sound super severe if most dr. are not recommending it.
I am happy to report at 22 month you can barely tell he has a flat spot. But it did take
awhile. I have had several friends who have passed on the helmet too. Their children are
older (5 years old) and I can not tell at all they had a flat spot. If you feel my son's
head it is a little flat/square. He is beautiful and that little imperfection does not
take away from him at all. Plus I heard that the head can continue to round out for
several years still.
My two cents.
All the posts about babies with flat heads prompt me to ask: what is the concern
(other than aesthetic) about flat heads? I was a baby during the era when infants
always slept on their tummies, yet I have a very flat skull. Some other members of
my extended family do too, so I've always assumed it's a genetic trait. I'm not
aware of any deficit attributable to a flat skull -- though I do joke that I'm not
good at math because the math portion of my brain should have been where the
Seriously, is there new research on flat-headed babies?
My head doesn't roll off the pillow
My mother has an extremely flat head and she cannot wear hats without
a chin strap because they come right off at the slightest breeze.
Also, she has to perm her hair to ''round out'' the look of her head
because it looks so odd otherwise. Sounds laughable, but she hates
it, and always made sure her kids slept on their sides to avoid this
(it's also a concern because your head is *supposed* to be rounded!)
-charlie brown head
I also wondered and think that maybe it is a way for the medical
community to make some money. Apparently it can cost upwards to
$3-$5000 for head shaping units. Is it really necessary? I don't
think so, we all Survived.
What's next? Baby's feet too flat!
The ''flat head'' issue we are talking about here is not one genetic,
but it's caused by the babies sleeping on their backs. That's an
aesthetic thing for sure, but more importantly, it's still not clear
whether this kind of flatness (caused by putting pressure in the back
of the skull)can cause neurological/developmental problems. More
likely it will not, but the research, up to where I know, it's not
conclusive. Before deciding on a helmet for my daughter I did some
research, read papers, talked extensively to the drs, etc.., and I
concluded that it was better to just do it. This was about 2.5 years
ago, so things might have changed. Still, I consider that the
aesthetic concern (if the head is severely flat) can be a valid issue
too. I don't know if I would have done it out of aesthetic concerns
only. I am glad I decided to do it for my daughter. Carolina
Well, the flat head may just be cosmetic, or it may not. I will say for my son,
his wasn't just flat, but asymmetric. He favored tilting his head to one side, so
there was bossing in his forehead that was becoming noticeable and his ears didn't
line up. Yes, it may stay ''just'' cosmetic, but it may also lead to vision
issues, jaw issues and so on. We were extremely pleased with the results of his
helmet, despite the cost. Not saying it's for a mild case, my other son's head is
still slightly flat on one side, but not noticeable with hair now. We really just
didn't want to regret not doing something when we had the chance.
-No helmet regret
Baby's flat head
My 3 month old's head is even more flat now. The pediatrician said not to worry too
much about it. Our baby is a back sleeper and the back of his head that is flat isn't
growing hair. Any advice from parents out there to help with this? I am hoping he
won't have to wear a helmet at some point.
Your current doctor could be wrong. I would ask for a second professional opinion. I used to
know someone whose daughter's head was very misshapen (looking from above it's sort of like an
obtuse triangle without the corners of course). According to her, the child's doctor said
that's fine and it would eventually plump back up. In my experience, it will never plump back
out even if it's a little flat.
I worried about this a lot, but it becomes a non-issue over time as baby develops. A few
pointers for the meantime- For daytime, try the Boppy Noggin Nest for the stroller, bouncy
chair and gym. Other than that, try to avoid buckets and baby wear instead where possible. Do
tummy time to get the baby on belly- this can be really tough. Whether or not tummy time
works, with time, baby will start moving head more and the flat spot will begin to fill out.
Couldn't hurt to check with your pediatrician to see if baby has more flat head than normal.
It'll all be fine!
No longer a worry
Our first kiddo has somewhat of a flat head. Our pediatrician told us at the time that it was
a mild case and that he did not need a helmet. However, I could definitely see that his head
was somewhat flatter in the back.
However, we had a couple of other babies after our first, and their heads are fine. The
difference, I think, is that our first l-o-v-e-d the baby swing, and looking back we probably
over-utilized it. That, combined with the fact that he was a pretty decent sleeper even early
on, led to him having the back of his head against something (swing or crib mattress) a lot of
Our other children were not as into the swing and therefore we hardly used it. Also, after my
first I was pretty concerned about the others getting 'flat head' so I made sure that they got
plenty of tummy time early on and really made sure not to keep them in their infant car
seat/bouncy seat too long, instead opting to snuggle 'em against me or carry them in the Moby
or the Ergo. I really think this helped.
Anyway, I would pay attention to how long your baby has the back of his head against something
(not including sleeping time, of course), and see if you can shorten/eliminate it. I'll be
this would help, but if your kiddo still ends up having somewhat of a flat head, don't
despair. My eldest is now in grade school and while I can still see that his head is flatter
in the back if I concentrate on it, I'm fairly certain that others don't notice it (after all,
when was the last time you paid attention to the backs of older kids' heads?).
Hello Anxious Mom,
I read your post and completely understand your concern - our son, too, had a flat head as an
infant and we were very concerned as well. In our search for a solution, we came across the
Noggin Nest - a pillow with a round hole in the middle that our son used EVERYwhere (naps,
nighttime, car seat, etc.) and it made a HUGE difference. They sell for about $15 and you can
find them at Target, Babies R Us, etc. but often just online. Do a google search and you'll
see them. We couldn't have been happier with the results!
If your baby's head is flat and getting flatter at age 3 months, ''don't worry too much about
it'' is not good advice. You should worry. I hope your doctor also gave you lots of tips for
mitigating the flatness (which is called positional plagiocephaly or flat-head syndrome). Do
NOT wait to do something about this - there are simple steps you can take at home. If they
work, you won't need the helmet. But if you wait too long, the flatness could be permanent.
Read this BabyCenter article for a thorough explanation of what's going on and what you can
do, including practical tips for helping your baby's head round out:
(Caveat: I'm an editor at BabyCenter. The article was approved by our medical advisory board.)
This is a common problem now because babies spend so much time on their back. Please don't
take a wait-and-see attitude. I know other BPN parents will chime in here and give you the
Infant's flat head
Our pediatrician recently told us at our daughter's two-month
appointment that she is developing a flat head. She advised us to
refrain from using the bouncer, play gym, etc. or anything where our
daughter is on her back. Our pediatrician told us to take her out of
her swaddle at night so she has the freedom to move her head back and
forth. She told us to sew a rolled up cloth under one side of her
pajamas so as to cause her head to tilt one way when she sleeps. She
also said to use the carrier more often so she is upright. Most
importantly, she told us to increase the amount of tummy time to
strengthen her neck.
Does anyone have any advice on how else to deal with a flat head? I
think our daughter may just be prone to it due to the shape of her
head, but I'd definitely like to prevent having to use a helmet down
the road. Thanks!
We also had a ''flathead'' infant and were thrilled to find
an inexpensive remedy that worked - it's a pillow called
the Noggin Nest, made by the pillow company Boppy. We
bought ours at Babies R Us but you can do an internet
search and find it many places for around $15. We used
it every time our son's head was lying flat - when he was
sleeping (nighttime as well as naps), in his car seat,
etc. It worked great, and I HIGHLY recommend it!
parent of a former flathead
Have you gone through corrective helmet therapy for your
baby's flat head (positional plagiocephaly)? Or, have you
elected not to go through helmet therapy? Our 8-month-old has
a moderate to severely flattened head on one side. We were
told by a specialist today that he should have a helmet that
he will wear 23 hours a day for 6 months. It's not the end of
the world, but it seems drastic and we would prefer not to go
through that. I would love to hear about experience and
results from parents who both did and did not choose to use a
helmet. Thank you!
want a rounder-headed baby
Eight months is a little late to address plagiocephaly, but improvements
can be made. You say you want a rounder head: DO IT. Your child won't
even care about the helmet and the time goes by in the blink of an eye.
True, it's just a cosmetic fix (I'm assuming they already did the CT scan to
rule out other abnormalities causing the misshapen head)...but why
wouldn't you want to correct something for your child that's easily
correctible? It doesn't mean you love your child less if you want to correct
a physical deformity...it doesn't mean you can't see past it for the beautiful
child you have.
My son was put in a helmet, finally, at 10 months, when I knew he had a
flat head from 3-4 months, but his doctor kept insisting it'd correct itself. It
didn't. He was in it about 6 months, 23 hrs a day, and honestly, the time
is irrelelevant. As a toddling boy, quite frankly, sometimes it was a relief he
was in it. It saved quite a few bumps.
Just don't make the mistake of projecting how you would feel to wear a
helmet on your 8 month old. Yes, you wouldn't like it as an adult. But your
child doesn't have these feelings yet. You will be so happy you corrected
an obvious physical deformity...there are plenty of things in your child's life
you will not be able to.
--glad my boy had a helmet, and his rounder head is the proof
I joined the Yahoo group for Plagiocephaly and I have to
say, it really is the best resource for support,
information, advice, etc. My daughter was diagnosed with
plagio at 3 months by her pediatrician. I estimated about
7 mm deflection and we were really vigilant about
repositioning. It did get better, but now at 8 months, it
has slowed down since her head growth slowed. We were
referred to Children's Hospital in Oakland and the doc
said that we were doing a good job and to keep going with
repo. We have a follow up next month to make sure. I was
absolutely ready to get her a Starband (and still am if
doc says to do it). In my opinion, a helmet is a
relatively easy way to make a difference-6 months will
pass by like nothing. This is your window of opportunity
in terms of growth, you are already at 8 months, if you
wait past 1 year it might be too late to make a
difference. You can read thousands of
questions/answers/stories/issues in the yahoo groups, it
really helped me make an informed decision.
Do the helmet. I am an occupational therapist and have worked with LOTS of
babies who have had the helmets and it really isn't as bad as you think. They
just get used to it being there and it is no big deal. Better to do it now while your
baby is young and to correct it early on. If you wait longer, the treatment will
take longer. It may not even take as long as they said it would if you are
consistent with having your baby wear it 23 hours per day. You'll be amazed at
the before and after pictures. Good luck!
Help! My 9 month old has positional plagiocephaly (misshapen
head). It's not severe but definitely noticeable. We've
asked our doctor who says that it will PROBABLY correct
itself over time. We have friends who wished they had done
something because their babies' heads did not correct
themselves fully. They did get better over time, but they
live with small to medium sized flat spots.
So, I'm looking into what there is to do. There are helmets,
band & craniosacral therapy. And of course, repositioning
his head during sleep, which is what we are doing. It's hard
with a 9 month old. He moves a lot during the night so we
are usually checking a few times and repositioning him every
night. There has been some improvement, but some of the
issues of the shape are on the top of his head and
positioning him doesn't help that area.
I'm hoping to get feedback from the fine folks of BPN on
your experiences with any of the above treatments and/or
hear about any others that I don't know about yet. There is
so much information to sort through. Not to mention me
feeling like something has to be done and we're running out
of time. And, not wanting to make the wrong choice.
BTW - we do have an appt. to talk with a doctor about the
helmet in a week and I'd like to meet with a CST
practitioner, so any pointers on what to ask would be great too!
Hello. Short story: GET THE HELMET ASAP.
Long story: I was in your EXACT shoes when my child was 9
months old. But I had noticed my son's head was VERY FLAT in
the back at 4 months and raised concerns then with the
pediatrician. All the pediatricians in the practice assured
us at one time or another that ''Oh, he'll be sitting up more
soon, it'll correct itself.'' Well, no one listened to me.
The main problem was that he slept flat on his back all
night and was a WONDERFUL sleeper - 12 plus hours straight
every night. Great for my sleep, but bad for his head. So by
9 months, the back of his head looked like a sheer cliff.
FINALLY, his main pediatrician assented to giving us a
referral to the main cranio-facial doctor at Children's in
Oakland. He was pessimistic because to correct with a
helmet, it's best to start at FOUR MONTHS (when I started
begging my pediatrician for assistance but was rebuffed). We
went to get a 2nd opinion then in San Francisco. The doctor
there said he'd put Declan in a helmet - because why not?
You see, we had also tried in vain to reposition our boy --
safety pinned towels to the side of his pajamas so he'd tilt
one way and then another on the next night ... but that
didn't work. Neither did a wedge pillow. He'd eventually
nestle right back into where his flat head met the flat
mattress because it was most comfortable -- flat on flat,
We went back to Oakland Children's and all of sudden the
doctor thought a helmet would be ok. So we did it for 6
months. It WORKED. His head isn't flat in the back anymore.
Now, it would have been a much more drastic improvement if
he'd had the helmet earlier, say even 3 months earlier. His
head shape is unlike anyone in our family's - very round
because the skull pushed out that way while flattening in
Anyway, good luck. Get the helmet. The 6 months go by FAST
and the child is remarkably cool with it. Take all your
pictures during the 1 hr break each day for bath and helmet
cleaning. You won't remember it at all hardly!
--Charlie Brown's Mom
My daughter, who just turned 8, had very noticeable
plagiocephaly when younger due to sleeping on one side and
probably also due to the use of vacuum suction during birth.
I got quite stressed about it and did consider the helmet,
but after much research, decided to go with craniosacral
therapy when she was around 2. It's a very gentle method-
almost like a massage of the scalp, but during one session I
did see a significant movement of an obtruding area of her
head. We did not follow through with a lot of sessions,
however. The head does seem to round out quite a bit without
much intervention as the child grows, but it does not become
perfectly round. However, only I the mom could probably
notice the lack of complete symmetry in my daughter's head
at this age, especially with her mid-length hair. I suspect
that none of us has perfectly round heads. I know the
condition looks pretty significant right now, through, and
sympathize with your concern and not knowing how it'll turn
out. I don't know up to which age helmets help, but perhaps
you could also check out craniosacral therapy, which is
gentle and supposed to be great for babies anyway in
My now 2 year old boy/girl twins were diagnosed with
positinoal plagiocephaly when they were 5 months old.
Initially, our pediatrician gave us the typical advice
that it would likely correct itself. However, my husband
and I really pushed for a referral to a neurosurgeon at
Children's hospital (which you need for children's
hospital to take your appointment, even if you have a PPO
which we did)for both children because we didn't want to
take that chance. We felt strongly that we wanted to get a
second opinion from a specialist. We saw neurosurgeon Dr.
Peter Sun at one of his monthly clinics specifically for
positional plagiocephaly at children's hospital and after
the first meeting with the babies, he immediately
recommended that helmet therapy would be of great benefit
for both of them. He also told us that starting therapy
before 5 months (but certainly the sooner the better) had
the most chances of correcting the condition. We
immediately were referred to a helmet company to have the
babies' heads scanned and measured and fitted for helmets
and they spent the next 4-5 months with the helmets. At
the end of treatment, there was a remarkable difference
and we couldn't be more thrilled that we pushed for that
initial referral from our pediatrician. The strongest
piece of advice I could give you is to trust your gut and
push for what you want. If you want a second opinion or
want to see a specialist, ask for it until you get it. If
you have other specific questions, I'm happy to chat with
you as well. Jua
Our child had plagiocephaly as a result of poor sleep position. Our
pediatrician referred us to a doctor at Children's Hospital in Oakland who,
after a very brief consultation, referred us to CTRS on 40th Street in Oakland.
At CTRS measurements were taken and our child was fitted for a helmet
which was worn from age 5 months to almost a year. We had periodic visits
(about every 3 weeks) where new measurements were taken and the helmet
was modified as needed. This all took place about 3 years ago.
After overcoming the initial guilt about allowing our child to sleep in a poor
position and feeling neglectful about it, we embraced the treatment and are
very pleased with the outcome. The head is near normal and the months in
the helmet are long forgotten. The technicians at CTRS were great. We had
the added benefit of a supportive medical professionals and very easy-going
child. We found some additional support and information from the
Plagiocephaly Group on Yahoo Groups.
All the best in your search and decisions.
My 10-week old baby boy has an alarming flat area on the back
of his head from sleeping on his back. Our pediatrician told
us that this will resolve itself but it's so severe that we
question if this truly will be the case. As it seems that we
would not be the only parents encountering this issue from
having babies sleep on their backs, we are hoping for your
advice/suggestions on how to stop his head from getting flatter
short of having him sleep on his tummy (which is a big no-no)
or on his side sandwiched by two rolled up towels (he refused
this technique). Many thanks!
You might want to read this BabyCenter expert's advice, which
offers a number of practical tips (one example: Put your baby
down to sleep with his head at different end of the crib each
night. Your baby will probably turn his head to look out into the
room, shifting the pressure onto the side of his head.
Alternating sides each night will help prevent one side from
Will sleeping on his back cause a flat spot on my baby's head?
And this more comprehensive BabyCenter article on plagiocephaly
(flat head syndrome):
It's definitely better to address this sooner than later.
While 10 weeks is early, and this flatness WILL probably resolve
itself (if it's not the more serious condition of craniofacial
synostosis), I too became concerned about my baby's flat head
around the same time. I pointed it out to the doctor, and she
said it would resolve itself when he starts sitting up, blah blah
Well, they kept saying that until he was 9 months old. The
problem was, he was quite big for his age, and an incredible
sleeper. And a sleeper in just 1 position - on his back. At 9
months he still could not turn over from back to front. Finally,
at 9 months, my pediatrician's group (a different doc than his
main) relented and referred us to a consult. Why they had to wait
so long was beyond me - it was no skin off my ped group's back to
refer us. Meanwhile, I had been genuinely VERY concerned as of 4
We went to two craniofacial doctors. One in Oakland, one in SF.
Both were FLABBERGASTED that we had not been referred earlier -
like at 4 months. They both said that pediatricians are NOT
dealing with this properly and they should be referring patients
at 4 months - because that's when you will have much more success
reshaping a plagiocephalic (misshapen) head with a helmet.
So yes, we had to have a helmet (as it was not a premature
closing of the skull's sutures, aka craniofacial synostosis, as
determined by a CAT scan).
We were at a serious disadvantage not getting the helmet earlier.
His temples were sort of bulging out, his face was round, and the
back of his head looked like a sheer cliff. The growth rate of
the head is minimal between 9 months and 18 months, but that's
what we had to do. He looks good now at 16 months - but then
again, I'm his mom. Just today I got a comment about how round
his head was and how I must be the au pair because he doesn't
look like me (WHATEVER!). I have to let it go that we didn't get
the helmet earlier, but it ANGERS me because I was on top of the
situation from the get-go, and no one would listen to me.
--Charlie Brown's Mom.
Someone may throw a brick through my window for saying this, but
I sometimes let my infants sleep on their stomachs as long as it
was during the day and I was right next to them -- right after a
feeding, I would lay them down on a blanket on the floor next to
me and sit there with them while they slept. Never at night.
However, you really have to get some side-sleeping in somehow.
Can you roll him over to his side after he falls asleep? I
alternated depending on which side I had nursed them on to make
sure to switch it up. If that doesn't work, try swaddling him
super tight, and sleeping him at an incline strapped into a
bouncy chair on his side, with his bum slung through one of the
legholes. Again, you need to stay nearby to make sure he is
secure. You can also do this in a baby swing.
An Ergo, sling or Bjorn will also get him off his back for naps
during the day, but obviously you can't do that for every nap,
and you probably don't want to set that habit by making it an
expectation rather than an occasional variation.
Creative sleep strategist
I wish my mother had let me sleep on my stomach. In the photos of
me as a child I call myself ''little box head'' because my head is
so flat. It never did round out and, while not a terrible
liability, I would have like to have a rounder skull.
Little Box Head
I don't know what to say to make you feel better, but my son, who
is now 5, has a flat head. It still bothers me. We did the ''back
to sleep'' but I even used those memory foam pads and still, flat
head. The doctor told me it would ''resolve itself'' but it didn't.
It was also suggested I try a helmet but that just seemed like a
horrible thing to do. In the end, his head is flat, but no one
can really tell these days except for me. Now that he has hair,
it seems like he'll be ok. So, not exactly the best news for you,
except that it's not the worst thing in the world. Now, if it's
so flat it's distorting his face or something, then maybe you
need to look into getting a helmet. But, you need to do it soon
while things are still moving around. The weird thing is my
second child who also slept on her back, did not get a flat head.
I guess some children are just more suceptible. Good luck.
mommy of a beautiful flat head
Our daughter was 14 months old when we adopted her in China. The back of
head was so flat that for the longest time, I winced every time I saw
her profile. She
was also bald back there -- no doubt that she had spent most of 14
months on her
back! I never thought it wouldn't change as she spent more and more time
head off a mattress, but our pediatrician thought it was so bizarre that
he sent us
off to Oakland Children's for a consultation with a specialist. That did
alarm us. But
the specialist walked in the door of the examining room and immediately
had nothing to worry about -- he spoke with such warmth and certainty.
ridiculous thing is that he told us her head was flat BECAUSE she was
So much for specialists. Anyway, we left quite sure that she would be
or not her head shape changed. Others in the same boat were told to buy
little pillows, to prop with towels, to try all manner of tricks. We did
nothing of the
sort and within a year, maybe two, her head was perfectly curved. (She's
a teen now
and still sleeps only on her back, by the way.)
My advice is don't waste a second of your time worrying about a flat
head. Just enjoy
Our daughter was born with a torticollis (tight neck muscle)
and therefore couldn't move her head much. Besides, she went to
the NICU when she was born and was always put on the side in
her isolette. She developed a flatness on one side, severe
plagiocephaly. She is 16 months old and has been wearing a
helmet for 11 months. Things are much better.
We did a lot of things to improve her head shape: put toys on
the opposite side for her to look at, play with a light ''wand''
going back and forth: side to side, so that she'd look both
ways, and ultimately went for the helmet. It's a good thing we
had her in one early, the earlier the better...
Hope this helps.
Both my niece and nephew had this problem. My nephew's doctor told his
that he would grow out of it, so his mom got a second opinon. He said
thing. He is now three. His head is still flat, but you can not tell
because of his hair.
He is a totally healthy and happy little boy.
My niece's doctor had her wear a special helmet that helped shape her
correctly. They said she might have to wear it for 9 months to a year (I
think). She is
getting it off after only 3 months. It started working the first month,
and her head
looks totally normal. She was six months when she got it.
Just two different stories that I thought might help you decide what to
My son also had a very flat head and I was worried about it. I
was assured that it would reshape itself and it did. Once he
started to crawl around and then began to walk a bit, his head
rounded out just fine. I'd say that it lasted to about 16 to 18
months. Now at age 4 and a half he looks at photos of himself
and laughs with me about his formerly flat head.
Hi-I had a similar problem with my son,who is now 4 yrs.
old.Although, his head wasn't extremely flat, what I did to
prevent his head from continuing to flatten, was to carry him
(when he was napping) in a Baby Bjorn carrier facing me,or
having him nap on my chest, although this position might not be
too restful for you, or monitor him when he sleeps on his back
and gently turn his head to either side so the pressure is off
the back of the head.Anyway,with this combination throughout
the day, helped to balance my son's head. Hope this helps.
I would like to add one more thing to this discussion after
reading the responses you got. I'm ''Charlie Brown's Mom'' who had
her son put in the helmet at 9 months. I would like to say that
just repositioning our kid, trying pillows/towels pinned to the
back of his nightclothes, did not work. Nor did a wedge pillow.
Nor did just turning his head. And no way would he sleep on his
tummy or his side. It's a self-perpetuating situation because as
the skull gets misshapen by the position the child likes to sleep
in, it's MORE comfortable because it's the same shape as the
mattress. He/she will PREFER to sleep in that position, and that
Also, carrying our boy was an impossibility. I'm strong but he
weighed 30 pounds at 6 months. I couldn't carry him when he
slept. You may not be able to either. Also, he NEVER liked being
carried that much anyway. He preferred to be in a swing, or in
Finally, I'll add that the helmet is not cruel. It does not hurt.
My guy cried the first time the orthotics guy put it on, but that
was more because he didn't really like the orthotics guy. That
was the only time. He never cared about the helmet. And he was
nine months old when he first wore it. The younger kids that get
it at the times they should - around 4 or 5 months - are MUCH
less aware and they adapt SUPER easily. Anyway, a helmet also
came in handy when he began walking because he would have really
cracked his head a few times there...!
I also got the helmet in a color of his dad's school and put some
stickers on it so it looked like a football helmet. Combined with
a baby's football jersey,...he actually looked SUPER cute.
--Charlie Brown's Mom - and a fan of the helmet.
Hi, both my boys were born with torticollis leading them to
always have their head in the same spot which led to flatness.
With my first, the docs said ''it'll go away'' and so I waited.
He was already 6-8 months old by the time I finally got them to
refer me to PT and the children's hospital. By then his head
was misshapen. We put him in a helmet and I've never been
happier about it. His head went from weird shape to nearly
perfect in 4 months.
When my second was also born with torticollis, we acted more
quickly. I got him in PT nearly from day one and as the
torticollis resolved early, he avoided the flat head and we
avoided the helmet.
DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THE HELMET. My experience: 1) the kids
look cute in them. 2) many other parents are aware of the helmet
and we got a lot of support from people in the street. 3) the
kids head reshapes very quickly the younger they are but as they
get older, the head grows less quickly so you have to have the
helmet on for longer. Do it early if you are going to do it.
and 4) most important, babies don't notice the helmet, aren't
bothered by it in the least, and it's over before you know it.
Finally, though, the reason we took the aggressive route and
went with helmet versus ''it might resolve itself'' was simple.
Once he's grown, you can't fix this problem. The time is now.
So for me there wasn't really a ''choice.'' I'd rather regret
having done something & it didn't work out than having not doing
something and later regretting it. the time is now.
We loved the helmet, our son not from the first second minded
it, and we have some adorable pictures of his blue eyes peeking
out from under his beautiful blue helmet.
happy helmet mom
Wondering if any parents can share advice on infants who have been diagnosed with
both Torticollis and Postitional Plagiocephaly? My son, who is 3 months old, seems
like he may have both (his Pediatrician has just referred me a Physical Therapist and
a Cranio-Facial Surgeon). He was born with a squished face and nose, and we were
told that he must have been compressed in the womb (he dropped quite early), but
they suspected all would normalize over time. His nose popped back into place
within the first few weeks, but his cheeks and eyes still seem a little asymmetrical.
He also tends to tilt his head to the left and look towards the right (same direction
that he was squished while in the womb), and has developed a flat spot on the back
of his head - off to one side. It's not dramatic, but noticable if you study his face -
and especially when you look at him in a mirror. If any other parents have info on
how treatment works (or doesn't) for PT and or DocBand (helmut) therapy, I'd be
most appreciative of the information. Thank You
My twin son who is now almost 11 months old has had
plagiocephaly since birth (he was basically squished in the womb
by his twin sister!). Our pediatrician in Oakland insisted that
his head was fine and that in time it would round out. At their
7 month old well-baby visit I pleaded to the doctor to please
refer us to a specialist since I did not notice any change in
his head shape.
We moved relocated back to the east coast 3 months ago and
luckily found a pediatrician who 100% agreed that my son had a
severe case of ''flathead'' and needed to start treatment with a
DOC band ASAP. He is now wearing his DOC band and after only 3
weeks of treatment his head is noticeably in a much better
shape, basically a ''normal'' head shape.
I urge you as a parent to advocate for your child and see a
pediatric neurologist very soon. From all the research I have
done, the best time to start treatment for plagiocephaly is
between 3-5 months for the best results. In addition, the
younger a baby starts treatment, the shorter amount of time they
need to wear a DOC band.
You can visit the Cranial Technologies website at
www.cranialtech.com. They do not have a clinic in the Bay Area,
but they do have one in San Diego.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Good luck!
My baby was also diagnosed with mild positional plagiocephaly
when he was around 4 months old, last year. He wore a helmet
until he was almost 11 months old and the changes were
noticeable. I know that his head is not 100% symmetrical, but
nobody notices that.
His cranio-facial specialist was Dr. Elio Gizzi, a very
knowledgeable and kind person, who is director at the
Craniofacial Center in Children's Hospital Oakland.
We were advised that a helmet would not be necessary, because
the asymmetries would correct by themselves. However, we did
not want to wait and see if they would correct or not and we
opted for the helmet.
The orthotist who made his helmet was Peter Villalpando, from
Walnut Creek. He is very sweet with the babies, and he
explained everything to us.
The helmet must be wore a couple of hours during the first day,
increasing until the 5th day when the baby will be wearing the
helmet almost 24 hours.
The big problem was that our baby was in helmet therapy during
summer, and he sweated a lot. At the beginning he was
uncomfortable, but then he got used to it. Other inconvenience
was to teach caregivers at child care to put/take off the
helmet when necessary, but we managed to do that.
You will have to visit the orthotist every two or four weeks,
depending on the stage of treatment your baby is, and you need
to be aware that the treatment should begin before the 6th
month in order to have better results.
Feel free to email me if you have further questions
H there - just wanted to let you know that my son had a little
of what you are describing. I noticed he had a ''flat head'' at
around 3 months; caused from always sleeping on one side. His
head was flat at the back on one side, very noticeable to me
and my husband, and plus my baby had no hair back then. The
doctor noted my concerns but reassured me that it was no big
deal, quite common and there would be no neurological damage.
Good news: my son is now 2 years old, has hair (not a whole
lot!), and you'd never know that he has a flat spot.
I also have a friend whose son had a flat head, they tried the
helmet treatment, said it was awful and gave up, now her son
too has hair and the flat spot is nowhere to be found.
I know this is only part of what you are experiencing but I
hope it gives you a little reassurance
my son had torticollis and cranial sacrial therpy cured it . maybe we were
just lucky but
we went twice and his head straightened out and it was all good. good luck
Has anyone had any experience with an infant born with a
mishapen head? This is NOT positional plagiocephaly but
seems more like a type of craniosynostosis (premature
closure of the sagital suture in her skull) called
''scaphelocephaly.'' She is a happy, healthy,
developmentally appropriate 4 mos old girl. We see a
physical therapist. We have now been advised by her
pediatrician to get a CT scan and consult with a
neurosurgeon at Kaiser. Anyone with experience with this?
Our daughter was born with Saethre-Chotzen syndrome, with bicoronal
synostosis, which means she had multiple sutures closed. Not only was her
head misshapen, but it got more misshapen the older she got and the more
she grew. She had a CT scan at 1, 3, and 5 months of age.
The reason your pediatrician has recommended a CT scan is with
Craniosynostosis, the brain continues to grow in the path of least resistance.
They need to make sure the brain has somewhere to grow. Unfortunately, even
if the brain has open sutures where it can grow, it's hard to predict what
appearance the child will have as the brain grows. In the case of our daughter,
she went from a slightly misshapen head to a severly misshapen head.
When she was five months old, she had bifrontal craniotomy surgery at
Children's Hospital of Oakland. Dr. Peter Sun was her neurosurgeon and Dr.
Bryant Toth was her plastic surgeon. (They are both fantastic as is the CHO
craniofacial program and staff, and I can tell you lots of detail about that if you
Our daughter continued to have problems. (This is due to the nature of her
syndrome, which is an active process. Lots of kids that have simple
Craniosynostosis have one corrective surgery and that suffices.) She had
multiple CT scans and finally had a second surgery at 13 months.
The surgeries were quite dreadful and it was a terrible time. I tried many
alternatives including acupuncture and cranio-sacral therapy, but it became
obvious that surgery was our only option. I hope that you won't have to go
through that. You may email me for more information if you are interested.
I'm a pediatrician who works at Kaiser in Pleasanton (I live in
Berkeley, though). I have dealt with kids with craniosynostosis
in my practice. If your pediatrician recommends that your child
get evaluated, don't delay. If your child has this problem, it
is best fixed around the age of 6 months old. Without treatment,
not only will your child have a severe cosmetic issue, but can
even sustain brain damage from increased pressure to the brain
from lack of normal skull growth (not imminently, though. Don't
panic!) Our group recently had a lecture from the neurosurgeon
who runs the plagiocephaly clinic at Kaiser Santa Clara (I tried
to get his name for you, but unfortunately, I couldn't access it
from my home system). He loves working with kids with
craniosynostosis and explained to us the newer surgical
procedures. Craniosynostosis surgery is much less complicated
than it was even 10 years ago. It now requires only two small
incisions and babies go home within 2-3 days. After that, the
child wears a helmet for a number of months to help reshape the
skull. As a parent, I can see how frightening this is for you;
the need for sedation for the CT, the procedure itself, and, of
course, the fear of neurosurgery. But if your child truly has
this problem, it's worth going through. Double check with your
pediatrician (who does have access to his computer system) that
the person you're referred to is the one who does the
plagiocephaly clinic (there is only one in the Northern
California region). He has a lot of experience and I was
impressed at how articulate he was. I think he helped pioneer
some of these new surgical techniques, too. I got the feeling
he would have a good bedside manner.
I wish you the best with this difficult situation.
My neighbor's granddaughter had surgery to correct
craniosynostosis a few months & is doing just fine. Grandma
says that she'd be more than happy to put you in touch with the
parents to discuss.
I have a 2-year-old with moderate flattened head syndrome
(positional plagiocephaly), which was not treated during
infancy following our pediatrician's advice. Everyone told me
her head would round out on its own, but it is still rather
noticeable at 2 years of age, especially since her hair is
naturally thin. Her head is oblique, and her ears are
assymetrical. Does anyone have an older child (2+ years
old) whose flattened head did round out on its own
eventually without treatment, or can share experiences
similar to ours? I know it's a totally cosmetic problem in our
case, but I'm still concerned as cosmetic problems can
have social consequences in one's life.
I wrote in awhile ago about this (see the archive link), and my
son is now 4.75 yrs. old and his head did round out slightly but
is still flatter on one side (but his facial features/ear line-
up, etc. are still more or less symmetrical). So, I think you
might see a specialist then try to decide if you need to do
anything about it.
My son had the same problem. We took him to a cranial sacral
therapist and it worked wonders. Over the course of several
treatments there was visable change. I highly recommend it. If
you don't know anything about this very gentle treatment, do a
web search and you'll find a lot of it. There is also info in
the Network archives. It is very, very gentle and relaxing
treatment - no weird twists, pulling or poking.! Just gentle
pressure w/ the fingers (equivalent to the weight of a nickle.)
We go to Nancy Burke in Richmond, tel. 236-1007 - there are
recommendations for her in the archives as well. She sees a lot
of kids and has tons of toys & books on hand to keep them
distracted while she does the treatment.
Another person I highly recommend that I've gone to is Michelle
Reddel at 510-649-9169, 2560 Ninth Street #313 in Berkeley. She
does a combination of chiropractic cranial sacral work.
I know many people are sceptical of alternative treatments like
this, but what do you have to loose. It's not invasive or
painful, there's no medication nor needles. I have seen it work
wonders with children that have colic as well as other issues
My baby was delivered vaginally but with the aid of vacuum
extraction. She's now 9 weeks old, and her head is still
quite misshapen (elongated and flattened on one side,
where I believe the vacuum was applied). Does anyone
else have experience with this, and have any idea when the
head will become more normal-shaped (and when I should
start worrying)? Thanks for any advice.
Don't worry, most likely her head will plump out on its own over
time. My now-6 month old was also vaccuum-assist and had a cone
on top of her conehead for quite a while. It was obvious even
from a distance and a little scary.
Our pediatrician recommended lots of tummy time and to see if we
could get her to sleep with the rounder side down (reducing the
pressure on the flatter side).
At 3 months when she was better but still nowhere near round, we
asked our pediatrician about options and she sent us to Dr.
Peter Sun at Children's to make sure that it was positional
plagiocephaly (even though it was because of the vaccuum, not
from sleeping on her back...) and not that the bones of her
skull were fusing incorrectly (this condition is very rare).
He could tell on sight that it was not the incorrect fusing and
said that if at 6 months it wasn't significantly better, we
could try a helmet. She'd have to wear it 20 out of 24 hours
every day for approx. 3 months.
Two reasons the helmet is not an automatic next step: 1. it's
often not covered by insurance and 2. most plagiocephaly is due
to kids sleeping on their backs, which has only been recommended
for the past 10 years or so to reduce SIDs. So there hasn't
been much research to show that kids with helmets end up
significantly better than kids who don't do anything. The
prevailing opinion seems to be that by the time they are 10, you
usually can't tell the difference.
We just had her 6 month checkup and our pediatrician agreed that
while her head is still sort of square-ish and flatter on one
side, it is better and she's fine. We're hoping her hair grows
And I asked the guy who cuts my hair about head shapes and he
laughed and said that most adults actually have oddly-shaped
heads and that dealing with flat sides and odd bulges is
actually a big part of giving a flattering haircut.
My 8 month old daughter has had an asymmetrical face
since birth. At first the doctor thought it would even out,
but it hasn't (the left side is slightly smaller - her eye,
cheek and mouth). I'm not that worried about the visual
aspect, but her tongue also seems to work less well on
the left and I am concerned about a speech
Her pediatrician doesn't think it's worth pursuing yet, but
I'd like to see a pediatric neurologist to ensure that
there are no problems that I could remedy early on.
Does anyone have any experience with a similar
problem and/or a specialist to recommend?
You might want to call the Cranio-facial Clinic (Center for
Craniofacial Anomalies) at UCSF (Dr. Karin Vargervik) - Phone
415 476-2271 to simply ask how one decides if an evaluation is
Many of us have some asmmetry without any underlying cause.
Some asymmetry, however, can be attributed to an underlying
syndrome. Our oldest son, 13 years old, has a very mild form
of ''Goldenhaar Syndrome'' with hemifacial microsomia. Basically,
the left side of his face and jaw are ever-so slightly smaller
than the right side. Even now, most people don't notice. This
syndrome can also affect the ear canal (slightly smaller, very
slightly impaired hearing on the left side) and can involve the
vertebrae. Our son had some surgery on the left corner of his
mouth when he was 18 months old to correct a slight droop. His
orthodontic needs are slightly more specialized. But basically,
he's growing up without any challenges. He is still monitored
periodically by UCSF.
It's probably worth a call to UCSF to just check in. Good Luck!
One of the top craniofacial/ped. plastics
doctors in the country is William Hoffman, M.D. at UCSF. He is
in the dept. of ped. plastics over at UC. Even though he does
severe congenital malformations and trauma-induced reconstruction
and repair, we had him excise a tiny benign cyst (inclusion
cyst), that was little more than pea size, from my daughter's
lower cheek. The result is beautiful, and eventually her tiny
scar will disappear. She had to undergo general anaesthesia for
such a procedure, and so having it done over at UC by a topnotch
ped. anaesthesiologist was vitally important to us, as well.
Dr. Hoffman would be a great place to start since, if your
pediatrician is unable to guide you, he would be able to tell you
what your child's condition is or isn't. Additionally, he has a
lovely and forthcoming bedside manner, so you will get your
questions answered. We also saw some of the ''after'' pictures
of some of his more ''serious'' work--he is truly a surgical
I saw this today article today and thought of your post:
While I understand that you are not concerned about the visual
aspect now, your child may be one day. I thought you might like
to know that there are treatments out there.
Best of luck to you.
My 9 1/2 month old baby boy has a flat head from sleeping on his back and side. I
understand that flathead is a result of preventive measures we must take against SIDs. I
have pointed out the problem to my son's pediatrician. He agreed that the boy is getting
flat head, but did not appear concerned and said there isn't much we can do about it. I'm
not sure if that means there is nothing we can do about it or if that means our insurance
won't pay for whatever needs to be done to correct the problem. Any ideas, suggestions,
solutions or feedback on flathead? I've read articles about how to prevent it, but it's a
little late now.
My friend had this issue with one of her twins. Her Dr. initially
dismissed her concerns. But when my friend pointed out that if you looked
at the top of her daughter's head, her ears didn't line up, the Dr. agreed
to send her to a Stanford specialist. The specialist immediately saw the
problem (I can't remember the name for it). So the baby had to wear a
helmut from age 6 months to about 14 months and the problem has been fixed
(or appears to be, child is 15 months now). So my point is, if you feel
like there is really something wrong with the shape of your child's head,
talk to your Dr. again and possibly get a second opinion from a specialist.
Having said all that, I know it is common for this to happen and I
understand that the head rounds out as kids grow and sleep in other
positions. Also, I have no direct experience with this issue. My kids
would only sleep on their stomachs, so I weighed the risks and let them
sleep on their tummies.
I am an adult male with "flat head" -- I was born in 1949, before most
people were ever concerned with SIDS, but i think my parents just
worried a lot about me suffocating on my stomach, they were major
worry-worts or, maybe they liked to look at me in the face without
taking off their shoes. At any rate the back of my head is flatter
than, well not a pancake, but pretty flat. At least my profile, as
seen in certain photo or mirror situations always embarrassed me, but
i really never was bothered by it at other times because 3 reasons: 1)
I could never it see straight on in mirror 2) nobody ever said
anything (or probably noticed, unless that person were similarly
afflicted), and 3) i have a IQ of 144.
In short, eh, do your best, but don't worry about it. It happens to a
lot of bright kids. Maybe keep the environment interesting around the
crib, you now, mobiles and friendly talk?
I was beginning to think my son was the only one with a flat head
despite hearing that "it is becoming more common". His is flat on the
left side; his head was always turned to the side since he sucked his
left thumb. The doctors kept saying he'd outgrow it, but he didn't,
and now at least his hair is finally getting a bit thicker at 19 mos.
Anyhow, CHO has a cranial/facial dept. if you really want to pursue
it, but our neurologist said it wasn't anything to worry about unless
the entire head/facial area is asymmetrical (distorted). I've heard of
helmets being used to reshape the head, but our neurologist also that
it's better not to put any pressure on the head.
You can give your child "tummy time" everyday to reduce the amount of
time spent lying on the back.
this page was last updated: Feb 11, 2014
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2014 Berkeley Parents Network