Will sleeping on his back cause a flat spot on my baby's head?

Will sleeping on his back cause a flat spot on my baby's head?

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It's possible. Babies are born with a soft, pliable skull. If your baby spends a lot of time on his back with his head in the same position, he may develop a flat spot where his head rests. This is called positional plagiocephaly.

Positional plagiocephaly happens most often to infants who are "good sleepers" (who sleep through the night), babies with an unusually large head, and babies who are born prematurely and have weak muscle tone.

Don't put your baby to sleep on his stomach to avoid plagiocephaly, because tummy sleeping puts him at risk for SIDS. (Always put your baby to sleep on his back.) Follow these tips to help prevent plagiocephaly and reduce your baby's risk of SIDS:

As a newborn

From the day your baby is born, alternate the direction your baby's head is facing when you put him to sleep each night. (The skull is very soft in the first days of life, and flattening can readily occur if a newborn is placed in the same position day after day.)

After the first few weeks, when he's able to turn his head himself, put him to sleep with his head at a different end of the crib each night. If his crib is against a wall, he should naturally turn his head to look out into the room. (Or you could hang a mobile outside the crib to attract his attention.) Vary the direction he has to turn to look and he'll change the side of his head that's pressed against the mattress.

Caution: Don't use rolled-up towels or positioners in the crib to get your baby to keep his head to one side. These raise the risk of SIDS and suffocation.

During tummy time

Tummy time also helps prevent flattening. Give your baby plenty of time on his stomach each day when he's awake. (Start with a minute or two at a time if your baby doesn't seem to enjoy being on his stomach.)

Tummy time encourages a newborn baby to develop strength in his neck over the first few weeks. As a result, he'll become comfortable turning his head when he's lying down and be less likely to develop a preference for having his head on a particular side.

Out and about

Avoid leaving your baby for extended periods of time in a car seat, infant seat, baby swing, baby carrier, or other place where he's likely to rest his head in one spot.


Alternate sides whenever you feed your baby a bottle. (You'll do this automatically when you breastfeed.) Adjusting your baby's position during feeding helps avoid pressure on the flat spot.

If you notice that your baby is developing a flat spot on his head, talk with his doctor and ask for a referral to a specialist. The earlier the condition is caught, the more easily it can be addressed.

Read our complete article on plagiocephaly.

Watch the video: How to Treat Babies with Flat Heads (December 2022).

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