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  • Writer's pictureCTPO Team

Preventing Torticollis and Plagiocephaly


What is it?

Stiffness in sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle causing tendency for positional preference of head.

Why does it happen?

Congenital vs Positional (increase in time on back of head and in carriers/containers, less free play)

Why treat it?

Can cause difficulty breastfeeding, difficulty with equal hand to mouth/face motion and can lead to plagiocephaly


What is it?

Flattening of the skull

Why does it happen?

Spending too much time in one position causing the flexible skull to flatten due to PRESSURE

Why treat it?

Can cause difficulty breastfeeding, facial asymmetries, jaw problems, cosmetic concerns

Good news! There are ways to prevent these conditions from developing!

Weekly Picture

Take a picture of the bird’s eye view of the top of your baby’s head. Pro tip: Get help and use consistent lighting with nose pointed to ceiling every time.

Limiting Time in Devices

Baby holding devices (MamaRu’s, swings, carseats, etc) all have some degree of recline built into them that make it difficult for your baby to keep their head in neutral alignment or move their head easily against gravity. Some time is baby holding devices is unavoidable (think safe car travel, Mama needs to run to the bathroom) however try your best to limit time to no more than 3 hours a day.

Pro tip: For walks, put your baby in a flat bassinet type stroller instead of a car seat.

Play with Positioning

It is easy to be blissfully unaware of the many positions your little one can play in to encourage development of strength, coordination and distribute even pressure on the skull.

The Proactive Positioning Pyramid breaks down the positions that should be emphasized and the positions to minimize. Pro tip: Sneaking in side-lying and tummy time between diaper changes and changing the position of toys on playmat or crib to encourage different positions is an easy way to sneak in variety.


If you start to see any directional preference or head flattening, ask your pediatrician for a referral to physical therapy!

Central Texas Pediatric Orthopedics has five locations in the Greater Austin area and can be reached at 512-478-8116

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