Pediatric Cleft and Craniofacial Anomalies Center

Early Intervention for Deformational Plagiocephaly

Baby leaning on pillow

Posterior deformational plagiocephaly can be corrected or improved by either helmet therapy or behavioral modification (purposeful repositioning). There are several ways to reposition your baby to help correct the shape of his head. Below are some tips that may help you to successfully reposition your baby. You can begin following these tips as soon as you notice a flat spot developing on your baby's head.

  • Place all objects of interest on the opposite side of the flat spot. If your baby has a flat spot on the right side of his or her head, place everything on the left side.
  • At bedtime or during naps do not lay your baby on the flat spot. Place him or her on the opposite side.
    DO NOT place your child on his or her stomach to sleep.
  • Roll a small receiving blanket up and place it under the fitted sheet of the crib to prevent your baby from rolling over. Make sure the blanket is under the shoulder and bottom.
  • Limit time in car seats, swings, and bouncy seats. It your baby is in these things for long periods of time roll a wash cloth up and place it next to the head so it helps him or her to look in the opposite direction of the flat spot.
  • Carry your child in a chest sling, up right.
  • Supervised "tummy time" is a great prevention to deformational plagiocephaly. Most babies do not appreciate "tummy time" but will get more comfortable with it over time. Start out with small increments of time and gradually increase the length of time. This is a great time for you to interact with your infant. Get down to his or her level and play peek-a-boo or show toys of interest.
  • If your baby is bottle-fed try feeding him so he or she is not lying on the flat spot. For example, if your baby has a flat spot on the right side try feeding him or her in your right arm. This will encourage your child to look to the left. This will be awkward if you are right-handed but with time will begin to feel more comfortable.

With patience, time, and persistence you can be successful at repositioning your infant, which will help change the shape of his or her head. We are more than happy to meet you and your baby and give additional information or support. Please feel free to call and make an appointment.

Positioning, physical therapy, and helmeting if necessary, will continue for the first year of the child's life. The cranium grows rapidly during this period and these measures will provide the best chance for complete correction of deformational plagiocephaly. Usually, the cranial molding helmet is worn between five and six months of life up until 12 months of life. In special circumstances it may be necessary for a child to wear a helmet until the age of 18 months.

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