¿What is plagiocephaly?

Newborn baby skulls are soft plates with spaces between them. As the baby grows, these plates gradually grow, harden and coalesce.

Plagiocephaly information 1

Sometimes when a baby sleeps in the same position, the soft plaques can develop a flat spot or an uneven appearance. This common condition is called positional plagiocephaly and it is not dangerous for your baby's brain. If the condition does not resolve on its own, your pediatrician may recommend repositioning, exercises, or helmet therapy.

Plagiocephaly information 2

In other cases, the baby's skull plates fuse too early or abnormally. This condition, craniosynostosis , may require surgical treatment with or without a helmet to correct the shape of the head.

Plagiocephaly information 3

Most babies develop plagiocephaly by regularly sleeping in one position. Studies show that 20 to 25 percent of babies who sleep on their backs develop some degree of plagiocephaly.

Other causes of plagiocephaly include:

Position in the uterus. Because baby skulls are so soft, they are often slightly deformed from the normal birthing process, but this does not cause plagiocephaly. Babies who are part of a multiple birth or who have a mother with a small uterus can be especially prone to plagiocephaly.

Prematurity. Many premature babies spend long periods of time in a fixed position while they recover in the neonatal intensive care unit. This often leads to plagiocephaly.

Muscular torticollis. This is a shortening of the muscle on one side of the neck, causing the head to tilt in one direction.


Here is a short guide through which you can assess the shape of your baby's head, helping you better understand your child's condition and choose the right treatment for him or her.

Please note that this evaluation is not a substitute for an evaluation by a medical professional. We invite you to speak directly with one of our experts by scheduling a free evaluation. You will leave with an understanding of your baby's diagnosis, treatment recommendations, and a detailed report to discuss with your pediatrician.

To start, have someone hold your baby on their lap while you stand, facing the top of your baby's head. From this point of view, what is the general shape of your baby's head? In flat head syndrome, the head may appear flat on one side, wide toward the back, or long and narrow.

We provided examples of three abnormal head shapes that you can see. Note that you may not see these shapes exactly; Mild to moderate to severe variations and even combinations of these can occur.

Normal head shape
  • The head is 1/3 longer than it is wide
  • The ears are aligned
Head shape of plagiocephaly
  • The head is flat on the right or left back
  • The shape of the head resembles a parallelogram
  • Ears are not aligned
Head shape of brachycephaly
  • The head is wider than its length
  • The back of the head is flat instead of curved
Head shape of scaphocephaly
  • The head is long and narrow


Positional plagiocephaly is most often treated with one or more nonsurgical methods.
  1. Repositioning
  2. Changing your baby's sleeping and resting positions can help to avoid putting pressure on an area of the head that is already flat. Your doctor may recommend:

    • That your baby spend play time on his tummy.
    • Changing the position of your baby's head when he sleeps on his back.
    • Making sure your baby does not spend too much time lying down while awake.
    Plagiocephaly information 3
  3. Exercises
  4. Many babies with plagiocephaly, especially those born with muscular torticollis, an imbalance of the neck muscles, will benefit from certain neck exercises. Your doctor may recommend a pediatric physiotherapist to teach you these exercises.

    Plagiocephaly information 3
  5. Mimos pillow
  6. The Mimos pillow is a baby pillow specially designed to prevent and correct cranial deformities during the first months of the baby.

    The Mimos pillow is the only baby pillow on the market that is clinically proven to take pressure off your baby's head while they sleep, without increasing the risk of suffocation.

    Plagiocephaly information 3
  7. Corrective helmet
  8. Corrective helmets have been used since 1979 to safely and successfully treat plagiocephaly. Helmets are most effective in babies 4 to 8 months old who have moderate to severe flattening. The helmet is a lightweight plastic shell with a foam lining. It acts like a brace to redirect the growth of the baby's skull. Helmets must be prescribed and carefully controlled by a licensed physician. As your baby grows, the helmet will need periodic adjustments.

    The helmet does not squeeze the baby's skull, but it gently helps correct the shape of the head by allowing growth in flattened areas. To get the most out of the helmet, most babies should wear it for 23 hours a day for about 3 to 6 months.

    Plagiocephaly information 3