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Plagiocephaly: Position and Movement Matter

Jan 7, 2020


When the word “plagiocephaly” is used, parents tend to fret and worry about their kiddo’s health and future. While plagiocephaly should be taken seriously, it can be corrected with varying interventions that can steer your kiddo towards their most prosperous life. Some of the interventions described will also support your kiddo’s healthy development in the long run.

The Helmet Style of Plagiocephaly

If you are at all familiar with plagiocephaly, you may imagine a cute baby wearing a stylish helmet. While helmet therapy is a potential treatment, there’s more to this condition’s visual traits. A parent may notice physical changes such as flattening in a particular region of the head. From this flattening, asymmetries of the face can be noticed as well. Just to name a few, one ear may be shifted much further forward than the other or a sloped forehead may be present. Of course, if you notice any changes in the face like this, bring it to the attention of your pediatrician as soon as possible.

helmet therapy

The Cause of Flattening

Why does plagiocephaly happen in the first place? For starters, infants have softer skulls, which means that the bone is quite flexible. While plagiocephaly can occur before birth, it often comes about after birth, particularly from sleeping position. The flattening is a result of constant pressure applied to one spot on the head. Since the skull is softer, it adapts to this pressure by, you guessed it, flattening.

Premature babies are at a higher risk of developing plagiocephaly because their skulls are even softer and, in some cases, they spend more time lying down to satisfy medical needs. It’s also common for torticollis to cause flattening because tight muscles in the neck tend to limit your baby’s desire to turn their head. All this time spent lying on one side can be the source of blame. Luckily, there are ways to intervene when it comes to plagiocephaly.


What Parents Can Do

Even the most well-intentioned parents may not be able to prevent plagiocephaly, but it’s valuable to always try to keep your baby as healthy (and mobile) as possible. Parents can:

  1. Practice Tummy Time

Tummy time is a useful way to help your baby develop the strength and muscles they need to grow. It gives them an opportunity to move and spend time in a position that does not place pressure on the head. They’ll also be more likely to practice moving their heads from their natural curiosity toward new surroundings.

  1. Change Positions

Put your baby safely in scenarios that encourage them to turn their heads even when on their back. You can play and interact with them whenever possible. At bedtime, rotate positions as well. One night you can have them looking left, the next to the right, and one night looking up. Switching the crib’s position can also encourage your baby to gaze in new directions.

  1. Hold Your Baby

We’re calling out car seats and bouncers. Physically holding your baby can relieve pressure on the back of the head that is caused by sitting against a surface. If possible, hold your baby.

  1. Talk to a Professional

Whenever there is a concern, this should be a given. Catching plagiocephaly early, like other conditions, will make it easier to treat. Left unattended to, plagiocephaly is associated with issues such as chewing or hearing. Pediatricians may recommend helmet therapy and visiting a physical therapist (that’s us!). 


Placing Meaning to Plagiocephaly Treatments

We want to stress that parents shouldn’t feel guilty if plagiocephaly arises in your kiddo. Even though the head is affected, your kiddo’s brain will still develop perfectly fine. Head flattening can be changed. Parents can take the above measures to keep their kiddo at their best.

Plagiocephaly is undesirable, but treatment does teach us a thing or two: mobility, variation, and curiosity are valuable! When your kiddo is encouraged to move and remain curious about the new world, it reduces the influence of this condition. An active, curious life is the elixir to many unwanted conditions too, so keep moving forward with these trends.


Plagiocephaly is a concern for many parents. Let us help.

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