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Positional Plagiocephaly

Support and treatments for flat areas on your baby's head

​​​​​Your public health nurse will check your baby's head shape at each Well Child Clinic visit. If your baby has a flat area, the nurse will talk with you about ways to help your baby's head shape (like how to limit the amount of time that your baby lies on the flat of their head). 

Make sure to talk with your doctor if you are concerned about the shape of your baby’s head.

Check with your doctor or public health nurse if you:

  • notice your baby is always looking in one direction or their head is tipped to one side
  • have ongoing trouble breastfeeding on one side
  • have trouble positioning your baby's head to one side
  • see a big change in your baby's head shape

What if positioning isn’t enough?

If positioning doesn’t correct the flat area on your baby's head, your doctor may suggest your baby wear a custom-fitted corrective helmet.

A custom-fitted helmet is a safe, non-surgical treatment. 

Corrective helmets work by redirecting how your baby's skull grows over time. The helmet keeps gentle pressure over the areas of your baby’s head that are prominent and creates space over the areas that are flat, providing room for your baby’s skull to grow. The helmet also prevents your baby from lying on the flat spot.

Your baby will usually wear the helmet 23 hours a day, for 3 to 4 months. You will visit your healthcare provider every few weeks to have the helmet adjusted. 

The best time to start using the helmet is when your baby is between 6 and 9 months old (before the bones in their head have joined together, or fused).

The cost of a corrective helmet isn’t covered by Alberta Health. Check with your extended healthcare plan or private insurance.

If you want to learn more about safe sleeping, tummy time, and preventing a flat area on your baby's head, there may be programs or free classes in your community. To find out more, call Health Link​​ ​at 811.​​​

Current as of: December 19, 2022

Author: Head Shape Program, Alberta Health Services