What is Plagiocephaly?
• Plagiocephaly occurs when there are one or more areas of flatness on the back of the baby’s head.
• It may or may not be associated with facial asymmetry, ear shifting, and/or forehead bulging or sloping.
Here are the 3 main forms of Plagiocephaly:
Characteristics of Normal Head Shape:
Normal Head Shape:
Back of head is curved and both sides match, eyes and ears are at the same level and are the same size, forehead is arched and level across, cheeks are the same size, top of head is level, normal head shape is 1/3 longer than it is wide.
Characteristics of Plagiocephaly:
Head is flat on one side at the back of the skull, overall head shape resembles a parallelogram, the ear on the flat side is shifted forward, face has a slope, eyes and ears are not level, one cheek and one side of the face appear fuller that the other, top of head is not level.
Characteristics of Brachycephaly:
Back of head is flat, head is wider than its length, bump over ears may be present and is the widest part of the head, face appears small for the size of head, head height is tall (vaulted skull), forehead slopes back.
Tips on preventing baby flat head:
• Tummy Time: During awake times, make tummy time a part of baby’s daily routine (starting at birth). Aim for 30-60 minutes total tummy time/day. Can be done on the floor, your chest or lap, or while carrying baby. Tummy time also helps to strengthen neck and trunk muscles.
• Repositioning: Change baby’s position several times during awake periods: carry them in varied positions, try time on tummy or in side lying, etc.
• Limit Time Spent in Baby Containers: Ensure majority of awake time is spent in varied positions off the back of the head (limit time in car seats, swings, bouncy chairs, etc.) See https://www.choa.org/medical-services/orthopaedics/orthotics-and-prosthetics/tummy-time-tools for more details.
• Encourage Baby to Look Fully and Equally to the Left and Right: Alternate the arm you carry them in and switch which end of the crib they sleep at.
** If you are concerned about your baby’s head shape or head tilt, please call the CDC to book an appointment with a Physiotherapist **