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Baby's flat head

Updated on May 8, 2011

Does it matter my baby's head has a flat spot?


Heads out of Shape?

Does it really matter that my baby has a flat spot on its head?

With the latest advice being to lie your baby on it's back to sleep to help prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), flat heads, where the back of the head is flat (the occipital area) seem to more common place. However sleeping posture may not be the only cause to contibute to the increase in babies with a flat spot. Other prolonged periods where the babies head is held in one position may also lead to a flat spot, such as prolonged periods in car seats or stollers, not enough tummy time or restricted movement in the womb. Congenital torticollis (tightening of the anterior neck muscles) may also lead to a mishaped cranial vault, plagiocephaly.

Isn't it just cosmetic?

Whilst the mishaped head may seem cosmetic and of little consequence it is when the child's growth and development is affected that further intervention may be required.

Recent chiropractic research has shown that if an abnormal head shape remains unresolved, unequal brain development may occur with subsequent school learning problems ensuing. This means that the child may be unable to reach their full potential.

What can be done?

Some head shapes resolve during the growth and development of the child.

Some doctors recommend the use of a helment, however these are highly controversial as they are not always effective and deemed by some doctors as unecessary.

Chiropractic or cranial osteopathy aim to put the child into balance. These adjustments are gentle, safe and natural. When the child's body (not just the cranium) are working together the brain is able to communicate effectively to all muscles and organs thus allowing to child to fullfill their maximum potential.

Due to a child's rapid growth chiropractic care is best given early in life, preferably before four months old. This is when the most effective rapid resolution of the problem can be seen. Older children can of course be treated but the resolution often takes longer and may require more intense treatment ie more treatment sessions.

Due to the commoness of this problem and its possible long term effects, it is wise to have your baby checked by a qualified chiropractor in paediatrics to give your child the best start in life.

Does a flat spot matter?

Copyright (c)123RF Stock Photos
Copyright (c)123RF Stock Photos | Source


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      backchat 6 years ago

      New study shows that "osteopathic treatments contribute to the improvement of cranial asymmetries in infants younger than 6.5 months old presenting with NSOP characteristics."

      Chiropractors with cranial training are also able to perform these techniques

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      Lara Cawthra 6 years ago from Camberley, Surrey

      Hi Catrina, Thank you for your comments.

      If your son is always lying on his right side or always looking to the right this may be indicative of some torsion in his neck. By this I mean that the muscles and/or vertebral joints in his neck may not be moving to their full potential and therefore not allowing him to move his neck as freely as he should be. By always lying on his right side this may allow the cranial bones to mould in an asymmetrical pattern thus appearing as a flat head.

      To understand what is happening my suggestion would be to take him to a doctor as you suggested. However if the local doctor does not have experience of cranial moulding then you may be better placed to take your son to a chiropractor, osteopath or similar that has experience with babies and cranial moulding.

      The sooner cranial moulding is addressed the better and quicker results are seen.

      Hope these comments help.

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      catrina 6 years ago

      Hi im alittle concern about my sons head. Its flat on the right, probably because when he was younger he would always sleep on it. He'll be 6 months in a couple days. Ive been making him lay on his left for the past few weeks. Hes always looking to the right too. Should i take him to see a doctor?

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      Lara Cawthra 7 years ago from Camberley, Surrey

      Hi Heather,

      Thank you for your post.

      Baby's head at any age should be symmetrical, without "sharp" corners.

      Current advice is to lay baby on his back to help prevent SIDS and this method has been reported to reduce the incidence of SIDS. However by his age of six months your baby should be able to roll and he should be able to find a position that is comfortable to him.

      Tummy time is important especially if baby is only sleeping on his back. During the day time when you are able to watch him, try to give him at least 20min per day on his tummy. This doesn't have to be all in one go. You could do 5min at a time, or as little as he is able to tolerate and add up to 20min throughout the day.

      Tummy time is important to help strengthen the neck and upper limb muscles which are essential in learning to crawl, sit and feed himself.

      Sometimes the head does remould, however if after consistent tummy time and sitting the head remains the same, you might like to consider taking the baby to a practitioner that specialises in paediatrics and craniopathy (the head). Your practitioner should have knowledge of paediatric neurodevelopment so that the child can be fully assessed with the knowledge that he is growing and developing to his full potential.

      Due to a child's rapid growth care is best given early in life, preferably before four months old. This is when the most effective rapid resolution of the problem can be seen. Older children can of course be treated but the resolution often takes longer and may require more intense treatment ie more treatment sessions.

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      Heather 7 years ago

      My son is now 6 months old. and i have a hard time trying to keep him sitting up. he always wants to lay down. so as i continue to keep him laying on his back. his head is still flat. im not sure if i should start him sleeping on his stomach? or evan on his side. my mother claims its not a birth defect. its from him laying all the time. if i just let him lay down till hes ready to sit up. will his head eventually go back to normal? or should i start now?

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      Lara Cawthra 8 years ago from Camberley, Surrey

      If the flat head is worrying you then it wouldn't hurt to investigate further. A practitioner that is trained in paediatrics and neurodevelopment would be best, as you want to ascertain whether your grandson's growth and development is on target and developing as it should be. At around 20 months it is usual for baby to start saying a few words and by around 24 months using a few simple sentences. However he could be a little later than this and still be quite normal, it depends on his overall growth and development as everyone can be a little different. If however he has regressed for example he was using sentences and now can say nothing but babble then I would definately look into this further. If you have any concerns at all seek out further advice in a practitioner trained in this area.

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      Kathy 8 years ago

      My grandson is 20 months old and his hair has grown so much that no one sees it, but his head is still flat and has never changed. Looking at the back of his head its more on the right. It worries me.. He is walking, running but not talk. He said more a few months ago then now.

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      Lara Cawthra 8 years ago from Camberley, Surrey

      Lintu I am pleased to hear that your baby' head has resolved by itself, as described about some head shapes will self resolve. However,this is not always the case and if as a parent you have concerns about your baby's head shape a chiropractor, osteopath or other health professional specially trained with paediatrics should be able to give a baby a neurodevelopment screening and examination to help determine if the head shape (or other) is having an effect on the growth and development of the child. The younger any problem is detected the better the outcome if treated early

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      Lintu 8 years ago

      My baby had extreemly flat head untill he started sitting down and head wasnt pressing all the time to something. Now he is year old and head is nice and round!