Baby head shapes: when to worry and what to know - Alcam Medical Orthotics and Prosthetics (2023)

March 30, 2022


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Babies have soft, flexible heads to move through the birth canal. However, many newborn head shapes appear slightly uneven, depending on the birth experience or how they settled in the womb.

After bringing home their sweet baby, many parents assessing their baby's head shape want to know when to worry if a temporary lump becomes permanent.

The good news is that most babies' heads round themselves and there are many options for those who need provider.

Understand the shape of the baby's head.

Several factors contribute to the shape of a baby's head. At birth and throughout infancy, babies have five main bones in their skulls:

  • Two frontal bones in the baby's forehead.
  • Two bones at the top of the head called the parietal bones.
  • A bone at the back of the head is called the occipital bone.

At birth, babies' heads contain soft areas called fontanelles and flexible spaces called sutures. The sutures come together at two fontanels where the skull bones still close.

Fontanelles and sutures allow a baby's large head to move through its mother's narrow birth canal. They also allow a baby's skull to expand during infancy as its brain grows rapidly.

A baby's skull continues to form until it is between 9 and 18 months old. Young children's skulls are fully formed just before they begin to walk and walk.

Is it normal for a baby's head to be uneven?

Baby head shapes: when to worry and what to know - Alcam Medical Orthotics and Prosthetics (1)

Many parents wonder about the shape of their babies' heads: when should they worry? First, it's important to note that most babies' heads turn independently. Also, an uneven head is typical for most babies after birth and is considered completely normal. Most birth-related head shape problems resolve around a week or two after birth.

Also, the shape of babies' heads continues to change in the first few months after birth, and babies can develop temporary flat spots if they sleep on their backs or spend long periods in a car seat, stroller, or bouncer.

Causes of uneven head shapes in babies: when to worry

Many factors play a role in the uneven shape of a baby's head. However, the most common causes of an irregular head shape are childbirth, changes in head position, preterm birth, and congenital disabilities.


A baby's birth experience often plays a role in the shape of its head. Babies delivered by C-section usually have a rounder head than those delivered vaginally because they don't have to go through a long, narrow birth canal. However, many other birth factors affect the shape of a newborn's head.

Babies whose mothers are in long labor may have a slightly uneven head because they are regularly squeezed by contractions, whether they were born by C-section or vaginally.

Some babies have a more conical head at birth if they spend a lot of time in the birth canal or if there is a lot of pressure in the birth canal. The cone shape of the head is created by squeezing during childbirth, which allows the bones of the skull to slide over each other, giving the head a pointed shape.

Additional delivery factors that can result in head sculpting in newborns include the use of forceps or vacuum delivery. Babies who needed the help of a vacuum to get out of the birth canal may have a lump on their head from the suction, while babies whose delivery included forceps may have a slightly tight appearance on the sides of the head.

When twins or other multiples have to share space in their mother's womb, the lack of space can affect the flatness of their heads. Stress in the womb often makes babies less mobile and affects the overall roundness of their heads even before birth or delivery.

Element header changes

Thatthe safest way to sleep for babiesin his crib he is on his back. However, this can lead to a temporary flattening on the back of the head or on one side between one and two months of age. Doctors refer to this particular head shape problem as positional plagiocephaly.

Positional plagiocephaly is a temporary condition often caused by sleeping on the back, prolonged periods in a car seat, stroller, or rocker, or tightness in the neck muscles (muscular torticollis) that causes the baby to turn the head only to one side. .

Although usually harmless, it's natural to worry about a baby's flat head. When to worry about this condition depends on a few factors. Parents can always raise concerns with a doctor, but they will often see improvement after their baby is able to sit up unaided.


Premature babies are more likely to have a flattened head shape because their skulls are softer at birth. Also, a lack of muscle control and strength means that premature babies are more likely to tilt their heads to one side at first.

congenital disabilities

A rare congenital disability calledcraniosynostosisIt occurs when the bones of a baby's skull come together too soon. Craniosynostosis affects only about 1 in 2,500 newborns and can cause changes in the shape of the baby's head and other complications.

How to Diagnose Abnormal Head Shape in Babies

Regular appointments with your pediatrician allow your doctor to follow the development of your baby's skull. Your doctor will first perform a visual examination of your baby's skull to assess for any lumps, and then may slightly palpate deviations from the normal shape of a baby's skull.

If your pediatrician suspects craniosynostosis, he or she will likely refer you for a CT scan to see if your baby's sutures fused prematurely.

Common abnormalities in the shape of a baby's head that are not caused by craniosynostosis include plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, and scaphocephaly. The three diseases differ in their severity. However, babies with mild forms of these head shape problems often find a solution through routine pressure adjustments applied to the back or side of the baby's head.

Which is the treatment? How to shape the baby's head

Parents who want to know more about baby head shape, when to worry about bumps becoming permanent, or how to shape their baby's head can make some general lifestyle adjustments that will positively affect the shape. from your baby's head.

Babies with mild positional plagiocephaly benefit from:

  • Alternate position of the baby's head while sleeping
  • Frequent repositioning of the baby, which causes him to change the position of his head.
  • Frequently carrying or carrying a baby in an infant carrier or carrier
  • practice tummy time

It is worth noting that doctors do not recommend how to sculpt a baby's head by hand, as sculpting a baby's skull by hand can pose some health risks and any head sculpting beyond the recommendations listed above must be performed under medical supervision.

Babies who lack the roundness of a normal baby's head at three months often benefit from procedures like the recommendations above.

Some parents may notice that the baby's head shape is still irregularly shaped or flat at six months. In this case, they may benefit from physical therapy or head shaping helmets to encourage a more rounded and symmetrical head shape.

Do helmets help babies with flat heads?

If a baby's head shape does not round itself after about three to four months, a pediatrician may recommend the use of askull reshaping helmetto gently reshape your head.

Using a helmet to shape a baby's head is called helmet shaping therapy or cranial orthotics. In helmet therapy, a custom-made baby helmet gently presses the widest parts of the baby's head to shape the flatter parts.

Babies who undergo helmet shape therapy often wear helmets for up to 22 hours a day. This treatment usually lasts between three and four months.

What is a cranial reshaping helmet?

Baby head shapes: when to worry and what to know - Alcam Medical Orthotics and Prosthetics (2)

A helmet to reshape the skull orcranial orthosistreats head deformities in babies between 3 and 18 months of age. The younger a baby is at the start of treatment, the more effective helmet therapy is, as babies grow particularly fast in the first months of life. Around 18 months of age, the shape of the babies' heads becomes permanent.

Common head shape deformities that are corrected by helmets to reshape the skull include plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, and scaphocephaly.

Skull contoured helmets typically have a soft foam liner with a hard outer shell. Helmet therapy is not painful or uncomfortable for babies, and adjustments are often made to accommodate the growing baby.

Babies with muscular torticollis who continue to lie on one side will no longer experience flattening of the skull on that side, as the helmet cushion prevents this.

Any parent who has concerns about the shape of their baby's head can be sure that most babies' heads will adjust to their normal curve quickly and naturally.

For those whose babies are born with a deformity, treatments such as physical therapy and helmet therapy offer impressive results in sculpting babies' heads before they take on a permanent shape.


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