What is Flat Head Syndrome: A Guide for Parents

As parents, we always want the best for our little ones. We watch them grow, achieve milestones, and cherish every moment. But sometimes, we might notice something that raises concerns – like an uneven head shape.

You may notice that your baby’s head seems flat in the first few months, which is a common condition called “Flat Head Syndrome.” The good news is that it is usually only a temporary condition that doesn’t cause any long-lasting problems for your baby.

Let’s explore what it is and what you can do to minimize the chances of it happening to your baby.

Understanding Flat Head Syndrome

Flat Head Syndrome, medically known as “Positional Plagiocephaly,” happens when a baby’s head develops a flat spot. This usually occurs due to pressure on one part of the skull. It’s more common these days because babies spend more time on their backs – in cribs, car seats, and strollers.

Flat Head Syndrome

Why Does It Happen?

There are two main types of Flat Head Syndrome:

  • Plagiocephaly: This is when the head flattens on one side. It can be due to your baby favoring turning their head to one side more often.
  • Brachycephaly: Here, the whole back of the head flattens. This might be because your baby spends much time lying on their back.

Ways to Prevent and Manage Flat Head Syndrome

  • Tummy Time: Give your baby supervised tummy time when they’re awake and alert. It helps develop neck and upper body muscles and takes pressure off the back of the head.
  • Switch Directions: When putting your baby to sleep, alternate the direction they face in the crib. This can encourage them to look in different directions while resting.
  • Hold and Carry: Holding your baby or using a baby carrier allows them to experience different positions. Just be sure to follow the safety guidelines for baby carriers.
  • Change Positions: Encourage your baby to lie on their tummy for short periods while awake. You can do this on a safe, flat surface.
  • Limit Time in Baby Gear: While they’re important, too much time in car seats, strollers, and bouncers can contribute to Flat Head Syndrome. Balance these activities with tummy time and holding.
  • Talk to Your Pediatrician: If you notice any flat spots on your baby’s head, talk to their pediatrician. They can provide guidance and rule out any other concerns.

When to Seek Help

Most cases of Flat Head Syndrome improve with simple interventions. However, if your baby’s head shape isn’t improving or worsening, it’s time to consult a professional. Your  pediatrician might recommend more specialized care, like physical therapy or custom head-shaping helmets.

Custom Head-Shaping Helmets

In some cases, a pediatrician might recommend a custom head-shaping helmet. These helmets are designed to gently guide the baby’s head into a rounder shape as they grow. The helmet isn’t uncomfortable and doesn’t hinder their movements. Many parents find these helmets effective in improving head shape.

Remember, Every Baby is Different

It’s important to remember that every baby grows at their own pace. Some flat spots might naturally improve as your baby becomes more active. Others might need a little extra help. The key is to stay proactive, communicate with your pediatrician, and create a balance between different positions and activities.

If you have any concerns, contact us today to schedule an evaluation with one of our board-certified pediatricians.