Flat-head Syndrome

The safest way to put your baby down to sleep is on his or her back. Babies who sleep on their back are much less likely to die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

However, babies have weak neck muscles, so they tend to turn their heads to one side when placed on their backs. And since babies' skulls are very soft and can be affected by pressure, infants who always sleep with their head turned to the same side can develop flat spots. This is known as "flat head".

A little bit of flattening goes away on its own. More serious flattening may be permanent, but it will not affect a baby's brain or development.

How to Prevent a Flat Head

A simple way to prevent your baby from getting a flat head is to change the position of the baby's head each day. Babies like something interesting to look at and tend to turn their heads to watch and follow things around the room.

You can change the position of your baby's head while still allowing them to have an interesting view this way:

  • One day, place your baby with his or her head at the head of the crib.
  • The next day, place your baby at the opposite end of the crib.

Placing a mobile toy on the crib will encourage your baby to look that way.

For more information on preventing a flat head in babies and how to avoid SIDS, visit the Canadian Pediatric Society website.