Wan Ying Paediatric care

Addressing your baby's flat head

Does your baby’s head look flat or uneven?

They might have plagiocephaly which could be congenital or caused by their sleeping position.

Beyond the cosmetic aspect of a flat head, is there a cause for concern if left untreated?

We’re here to help you navigate the best therapies for flat head in babies.

What is Plagiocephaly or Flat Head?

Flat head, also known as plagiocephaly, is typically caused by position or congenital.

For positional plagiocephaly, it could occur when babies spend too much time lying on their backs, causing the back of their heads to become flattened. Preterm babies usually spend more time on their backs during the first weeks of life. 

For congenital plagiocephaly, being a twin or triplet could be a cause due to tighter space in the womb.

Thankfully, in majority of cases, having a flat head does not affect brain development or growth.

Are Flat Spots on a Baby's Head Common?

Yes, flat spots on a baby’s head are relatively common. It is estimated that approximately one in every two infants will develop some form of plagiocephaly. This can be a cause of concern for parents, and osteopathy and physiotherapy can help.

What Causes Flat Head in Babies?

There are two main types of flat head in babies: congenital plagiocephaly and positional plagiocephaly.


  • Congenital Plagiocephaly: This refers to the flattening of a baby’s head that occurs in the womb or during the birthing process. It can be caused by various factors, including restricted space in the uterus or pressure on the baby’s skull during a difficult delivery.

  • Positional Plagiocephaly/Head-Turning Preference: This type of flat head develops after birth and is primarily influenced by a baby’s head-turning preference. Babies naturally tend to turn their heads to one side while sleeping or resting, which can result in consistent pressure on that particular area, leading to a flat spot.
Wan Ying Paediatric care
Paediatric care physiotherapy

How do we address flat head in babies without helmet therapy?

Cranial Osteopathy is a gentle and non-invasive manual therapy that can be effective in addressing flat head in babies. Osteopaths specialising in cranial osteopathy use light touch and precise movements to identify and alleviate disturbances along the sutures of the skull. By restoring balance and alignment to the baby’s skull, cranial osteopathy aims to promote the natural correction of the flat head.

During cranial osteopathy sessions, the osteopath carefully assesses the baby’s head shape, palpates for any areas of tension or imbalance, and applies gentle pressure to stimulate the body’s natural healing mechanisms. This therapy helps release restrictions and promotes optimal mobility of the skull bones, allowing for the gradual reshaping of the baby’s head.

Paediatric physiotherapy offers various treatment methods that can effectively address plagiocephaly. A paediatric physiotherapist specialises in assessing and treating musculoskeletal conditions in infants and children. Here are some techniques commonly used in paediatric physiotherapy for flat head:


  • Exercises and Stretches: The physiotherapist may recommend specific exercises and stretches to improve the strength and flexibility of the baby’s neck muscles. This helps promote balanced muscle development, encourages proper head movement, and reduces the likelihood of head-turning preference.

  • Repositioning Techniques: Repositioning techniques aim to encourage a baby’s head-turning to the non-preferred side. The physiotherapist may suggest different strategies to facilitate head rotation, such as using toys or interesting objects to attract the baby’s attention to one side, or adjusting the baby’s sleeping position to promote head movement in the opposite direction.

  • Tummy Time Recommendations: The physiotherapist will provide guidance on appropriate tummy time activities. Tummy time is crucial for babies as it helps strengthen their neck, shoulder, and upper body muscles. By spending supervised time on their tummy, babies can relieve pressure on the back of their heads and promote healthy head shape development.

It’s important to note that each baby’s condition is unique, and the approach may vary accordingly. A qualified cranial osteopath or paediatric physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment and develop an individualised plan based on the baby’s specific needs.

By combining cranial osteopathy and paediatric physiotherapy, parents can provide their baby with comprehensive care to address flat head syndrome. These non-invasive and gentle therapies focus on promoting natural correction, optimising muscle strength and mobility, and encouraging proper head positioning and movement habits. Consulting with healthcare professionals specialising in these therapies can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the healing process.

FAQs on Addressing Flat Head in Babies

In many cases, mild flat head in babies can correct itself with time and the implementation of simple corrective measures. Regular repositioning of the baby’s head during sleep and awake times, along with increased tummy time, can promote natural reshaping of the skull.


However, if a parent is unsure, you may bring the baby in for a consultation with our osteopath or physiotherapist to learn more about the right method of repositioning the baby’s head. You could also take the chance to assess your baby’s developmental milestones.

To prevent baby flat head, you can implement the following measures:


  • Encourage supervised tummy time during awake periods to reduce prolonged pressure on the baby’s head.
  • Alternate the baby’s head position during sleep, encouraging them to turn their head to both sides.
  • Avoid extended periods in car seats, bouncers, and other devices that put pressure on the back of the baby’s head.
  • Limit the use of flat head pillows or positioners, as they can restrict movement and increase the risk of SIDS.

Flat head pillows or positioners are not recommended for babies, as they can interfere with natural movement and increase the risk of suffocation or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It is best to provide a safe and firm sleeping surface for your baby without the use of additional pillows or positioners.

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City Osteopathy and Physiotherapy offers direct billing service for several insurance providers:

To enjoy cashless transaction please bring with you:

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Don’t worry if your insurance is not listed here. After each session we will email you an itemized bill so you can submit it for reimbursement.

We do not charge for completing medical insurance forms, but an administration fee is charged if an official letter or report is required to be produced for the insurance company or other entity.

  • Filling out insurance forms: Free
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