Baby Head Shape
Flat head syndrome or positional plagiocephaly is fairly common in young babies. It develops from either weakness or tightness in the muscles on one side of the baby’s neck. This encourages the baby to turn their head to one side more than the other. Parents often will take notice when the baby does not feed well on both sides. A baby’s head is soft to allow for optimal brain development. This can also cause the shape to become distorted. This can be quite concerning to new parents but is often cosmetic. That said, it does warrant investigation, as premature closure of some of the openings in the skull can look very similar. In this case, it would be important to have the baby assessed.
Chiropractors or physiotherapists with special training to assess and treat these issues is a good place to start. Especially if there are no underlying issues. Complex presentations may require more invasive measures like a helmet.
Baby Neck Muscles
As the musculature in the baby’s neck becomes more balanced through rehab, and they begin sitting up more, the issues with head shape often resolve.
I have been fortunate enough in my career to help many babies with torticollis. Having an appropriately trained chiropractor or physiotherapist work on your baby is not as scary as some may think. When either professional is working with a baby they should be using low-force techniques and encouraging muscular strengthening through rehabilitation exercises. In many ways, it looks very different than adult treatments. Babies’ bones are so small and continuously developing so a ‘true’ joint issue (as with adults) is uncommon. More often it is the soft tissues that are involved. High intervention births or traction on a baby’s neck at delivery may contribute to torticollis in some cases.
For more on head shape, torticollis and chiropractic care, check out sick kids resource:
PLEASE NOTE: This is not a substitute for personalized medical advice. If you have concerns about your child’s head shape or neck development please see your care provider