How is plagiocephaly treated?
Almost 80% of skull growth occurs before 12 months, so plagiocephaly should be evaluated and treated as early as possible. Surgery is not needed for plagiocephaly. Treatment may take place with specialists from many departments, including our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and our Craniofacial Center, based on when your baby is diagnosed and where their needs are.
We first examine your child to look for underlying causes of plagiocephaly, such as torticollis or strabismus. We may recommend physical therapy or a referral to an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) to treat these underlying conditions.
The first step to treating plagiocephaly is changing your child's sleeping position. Always place your baby on their back for sleeping, even with plagiocephaly.
Alternating which end of the crib your baby’s head is at each day will help. Some babies turn their heads towards the nursery entryway, and you can use this to your advantage when you position your child.
Arrange toys, music players and mobiles so that your child must turn their head away from the flattened side to enjoy them. Alternate the way you carry your baby to encourage head movement; change the direction your baby faces whether on your hip or in your arms.
Supervised tummy time when your baby is awake is also very helpful. Spend a lot of time holding and cuddling in a variety of positions. Even if plagiocephaly develops, your baby should continue to sleep on their back for safe sleep. Avoid long periods of time in swings, bouncers or car seats.
As your child grows, we use 3D images of their head shape to monitor whether treatment is working. We can use this information to make changes in the treatment plan.
If your child's condition is very severe or positioning changes don’t help by the time they are 6 months old, we may recommend a molding helmet. Children usually wear the helmet 23 hours a day for 2 to 6 months before seeing noticeable improvement and will wear the helmet for up to a year. Providers adjust molding helmets frequently as your baby grows.
Plagiocephaly tends to improve with positioning changes and as babies become more active. Crawling, sitting and pulling to a stand are activities that can help with plagiocephaly. By 14 to 16 months of age, the skull shape usually significantly improves.
The Plagiocephaly Clinic at Children's Colorado
Patients may be referred to our Plagiocephaly Clinic for evaluation, diagnosis and education from providers with specialized training in caring for plagiocephaly. Here, your child will receive specialist consultation, physical therapy or molding helmets.
Why choose us for treatment of plagiocephaly?
Your child’s health is at the center of everything we do. Our care and advice are tailored to your child’s individual symptoms and your family’s needs. You have the support of pediatric experts from multiple specialties, all with training and experience treating plagiocephaly.
Our care is based on the latest research and we take the time to explain that research and treatment to you. We ensure you have all the information you need to make the best choice for your child, and we support the choice you make.
Using advanced technology and our wealth of experience, we track your child’s progress, support you in your care with us and at home, and inform you of all the treatment options that could help your child.