Baby’s Head Shape: 8 Reasons for Uneven Skull, When to Worry
It’s not unusual for babies to have an unevenly shaped head as their skull develops in the early months of life. But when should parents worry? Here is a look at eight common reasons for babies to have an uneven skull shape; when to worry; and understanding infant helmet therapy.
Reasons for Uneven Skull Shape
- Newborn babies may have a difference in the shape of their head due to the position they were in while in the womb.
- Premature babies often start out with an asymmetrical head shape due to the lack of time spent in the womb.
- Birth trauma, such as use of forceps or vacuum devices, can lead to positional molding.
- Older babies may have an uneven head shape due to lying in the same position for extended periods.
- Toddlers may have favoritism when placed in their car seat, stroller or other sitting device.
- Babies prone to flat head syndrome or plagiocephaly can have a noticeable asymmetry in the skull.
- Babies with scaphocephaly have an elongated head shape caused by premature fusion of the soft bones of the skull.
- Torticollis, a condition caused by tight neck muscles, can cause an uneven skull shape.
When to Worry
Parents should always report any drastic changes in the baby’s skull shape to the pediatrician, especially if it happens after the baby’s birth. If the head shape is associated with any other symptoms, such as vomiting or resistant movement of the affected side, this could be a sign of a more serious health concern, such as hydrocephalus.
Understanding Helmet Therapy
If a baby’s skull shape is considered to be outside of normal ranges, the doctor may prescribe a baby helmet therapy. This specialized helmet is designed to gently reshape the baby’s head and is worn for one or two months, depending on the severity of the problem.
It is important for parents to work diligently on not only following doctor’s orders for the helmet, but also looking into physical therapy and home exercises that may be recommended by a doctor or physical therapist to help speed up the process.
Despite a baby’s uneven skull shape appearing different or frightening, it is usually nothing to worry about. However, if there are any sudden changes in the shape of the skull, parents should be sure to contact the child’s pediatrician. If a helmet is prescribed, following doctor’s orders and looking into physical therapy and home exercises can ensure the baby will get more comfortable with the helmet and experience the best possible outcome.