Brachycephaly: Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

It is a form of syndrome that is characterized by a flattened area on the back of the skull.

It can often be found in combination with plagiocephaly. If your baby has Brachycephaly, you will notice that around eight weeks of age your head will appear wider than you would expect, the ears seem to be pushed out and in some cases there will be a slight bump on the forehead and your baby may have a wide front.

Symptoms of Brachycephaly

The head is usually high in the back and can be seen completely flattened without rounded towards the neck.


Brachycephaly develops when the natural growth of a baby’s head meets the pressure that inhibits that growth.

During early childhood, a baby’s skull is soft enough to be shaped by these external pressures and can affect the shape of the skull.

This can be prenatally in the mother’s uterus or because the baby’s head is exposed to a flat surface for a prolonged period of time.

The most common causes of Brachycephaly are:

Pressure during sleep: babies are born with a soft and flexible skull that continues to develop during childhood.

A flattening of the skull can occur if your baby gets used to sleeping in a unique position every night.

As the flattened area develops, your baby can get used to that particular position, which increases the flattening even more, or your head can roll naturally in that position.

Large head size: some babies simply have a larger head size than others and the muscles of a very small baby simply can not move the head away from a flattened position.

Prenatal and molded during birth: a baby could be born with a brachycephaly head shape due to the position in the uterus or the descent into the birth canal. We often see babies who have been in the back-to-back position before birth.

Low level of amniotic fluid: When the mother’s amniotic sac does not contain enough fluid, there is also less cushioning in the uterus or if there are multiple (like twins) that cause “crowding” inside the uterus, the prenatal environment can exert excessive pressure on the baby’s skull.

Treatment of Brachycephaly

After a professional diagnosis and consultation, the treatment of Brachycephaly will depend on the age of your baby and the severity of the condition.

Repositioning techniques are always recommended for your baby to prevent Brachycephaly. Repositioning techniques can help eliminate pressure on your baby’s head so it can return to a more normal form.

Our repositioning advice includes:

Facedown time: Gives your baby time during the day to play, encouraging him to try new positions during game time.

It is important to remember to place your baby to sleep on their backs at night, as this will help minimize the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

Moving toys and mobiles:  Using toys and mobiles in your baby’s crib is a great form of entertainment and a sleep aid for your little one at night.

However, if you keep your toys and phones in the same position night after night, your baby will get used to one position.

Change the position of toys and mobiles to encourage your baby to turn his head and reduce pressure on a specific side of the head.

Alternative positions:  When feeding or loading your baby, try alternating the side where you do it.

A pillow:  There are some cushions and pillows available that can help reduce the incidence of developing Brachycephaly, but these should be used with care.

We also discovered that once a baby can move independently, they become redundant when the baby begins to sleep on its side or front.

If you are worried about the shape of your baby’s head, look for a professional diagnosis.