My baby has a 'funny shaped' head

You may be concerned that your baby develops a different head shape in the first few months, possibly with some flattening on one side.

This is called plagiocephaly and is quite common in babies, as their skull bones are soft and can reshape. The flat area may be at the side or back of your baby's head.

This usually happens as babies tend to lie on their backs or with their head to one side for much of the time. In most cases the head shape will improve on its own over time and will have no effect on brain development.

Your baby's head may not return to a completely typical shape, but by the time they're 1 or 2 years old, any flattening will be be barely noticeable.

Very occasionally, a flat head can be caused by the skull plates forming your child's head joining together too early. There is a medical name for this, craniosynostosis, and it requires specialist review and management.

How can I help?

  • Your baby's head shape should start to improve as your baby grows and start moving around more and spending less time directly on their back.
  • Encourage supervised tummy time when your baby is awake and playing (remember always lay your baby to sleep on their back).
  • Stimulate your baby by talking or showing them toys from one side to encourage them to turn their head onto the non-flattened side.
  • Change which side you hold your baby when you are feeding or carrying them.
  • Alternate your baby's head position between left and right when they are sleeping on their back.

ALWAYS REMEMBER - the safest sleeping position for your baby is on their back.

When should I be concerned?

  • Your baby has difficulty turning their head or has a strong preference for turning their head to one side.
  • Your baby has an unusual shaped head shape or very prominent uneven are which has not got better or has got worse, despite repositioning suggestions described above.

Where can I get help?

Please speak with your health visitor or GP if you have any concerns. They will examine your baby's head and be able to advise you. Sometimes your GP may refer you to see a physiotherapist, or if they suspect that the skull plates have fused too early, a paediatric specialist.

You can also find some more detailed information on the NHS website by clicking here.

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