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  • 3 Expert Ways You Can Do to Prevent Plagiocephaly (a.k.a. Flat Head Syndrome)

    You may notice that one side of your baby’s head is flatter than the other. Learn more about flat head syndrome and how to deal with it.
    by Kate Borbon .
3 Expert Ways You Can Do to Prevent Plagiocephaly (a.k.a. Flat Head Syndrome)
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  • Don't be afraid if you find areas on your baby’s head that seem soft. These soft spots, also known as fontanelles, allow for your baby’s rapid brain development especially throughout his first year. However, it is this nature that "flattens" his head when pressure is applied, especially if he usually turns to the side when lying down. This occurrence is called plagiocephaly, more commonly known as a flat head syndrome.

    Three types of plagiocephaly

    The flat head syndrome is not an uncommon occurrence among babies. It typically disappears on its own without causing any lasting problems to a child’s appearance and development. However, it is still helpful to be aware of what it is, and what simple practices parents can do to prevent their children from developing plagiocephaly.

    Positional plagiocephaly

    According to Kids Health, this type of flat head syndrome commonly develops from the positioning of a baby’s head when he is lying down. Babies usually turn their heads to the side when they are lying on their backs. Since their skulls are very soft during the first few weeks after birth, the side of their head that is usually rested against the surface of their mattress is flattened, giving their heads an asymmetrical shape.

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    This type is not much different from positional plagiocephaly, except that the flattening happens on the back of the baby’s head and not on the side, causing the forehead to bulge outward. It can occur if your baby usually faces upward when lying down.


    Stanford Health Care describes scaphocephaly is the most serious of the three types. It happens when the joints between the bones of a baby’s skull close up prematurely and inhibit normal growth, resulting in long and narrow head shape. Scaphocephaly is a type of birth defect called craniosynostosis.

    Letting your baby spend too much time in a car seat or in similar devices can also lead to them developing flat head syndrome.
    PHOTO BY iStock

    How to prevent flat head syndrome

    Practice repositiong your baby's head

    The most common cause behind the flattening of a particular side of a baby’s head is the way they position themselves when sleeping. Many babies usually look either to their left or to their right when they are lying on their backs, and the side of their head that is resting against the flat surface of their mattress receives some amount of pressure and therefore gets flattened.

    Letting your little one spend too much time in car seats, strollers, swings, and similar devices can also lead to flat head syndrome as these require your child to lie down for long periods of the day.

    If you see that your baby favors a side when he is lying down, regularly reposition his head to the opposite side to prevent flattening on one side of his head.

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    Make sure your baby has enough tummy time

    One of the many benefits of tummy time is it allows babies to develop and strengthen their upper-body muscles. It also helps prevent them flat head syndrome that he can get from the constant lying down. When you do tummy time, however, it is critical that your baby is wide awake and alert, especially when he cannot roll over on his own. Avoid doing it near his bedtime or after feeding.

    Aside from promoting normal shaping of baby’s head, tummy time can also help your baby develop the skills he needs to perform motor functions like crawling and sitting.

    Hold your baby more often

    Aside from tummy time, holding your baby in your arms often can also be a great way to prevent pressure on his head. This can also be an opportunity to bond and play with your little one whenever possible!


    Though flat head syndrome usually disappears without the need for intensive treatments or surgery, if you notice that your baby’s head is developing an asymmetric shape, it is best to consult with your pediatrician, who can help you decide on what to do next.

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