Many babies are born with odd head shapes and they naturally sort themselves out into a typical rounded head within about eight weeks. If there is significant flattening or asymmetry that is not improving by itself, then advice should be sought immediately, as the right advice early can fix the problem in a short space of time without much difficulty.
When a flat spot on a baby’s head is noticed, parents may find conflicting advice on what to do, adding to the anxiety about the shape. At Orthokids, we have many years of experience in assessing and treating all types of head shapes. We have professional relationships with Cranio-facial surgeons, paediatric physiotherapists, paediatricians and the Royal Children’s Hospital Plagiocephaly clinic and will be able to help you with the right advice.
Plagiocephaly is defined as an asymmetrical head shape with the flat spot at the back and side of the head. There is often a corresponding bulge either at the forehead or opposite side of the head. The ears may appear to be mal-aligned and sometimes facial asymmetry is noticeable.
Brachycephaly is a more symmetrical head shape, with the flattening being evenly distributed at the back of the head. This makes the head appear short, wide and tall.
Scaphocephaly is a skull deformity where the head is very narrow. This is often seen in premature babies or when babies have spent a lot of time in hospital, always turned right over to one side.
All head shape deformities have a natural tendency to improve and every attempt is made to ensure this natural improvement occurs by repositioning the weight of the head off the flat spot. When repositioning attempts are exhausted and a significant head shape deformity remains, a cranial re-modelling helmet might be considered. See our section on avoiding a flat spot for more information
Craniosynostosis is a skull shape deformity that must not be confused with positional deformities. It is a premature fusion of the bones of the skull and is a serious problem that may need surgical intervention. The signs of craniosynostosis are well known and able to be determined by doctors experienced in paediatrics. The appearance of the skull with craniosynostosis is quite different to that of positional deformations and if there is any doubt, babies should be referred to a paediatrician for an examination.