Head Shape 101: What Experts Want Parents to Know


There are about a million-and-one things that parents think and worry about in the first several months home from the hospital. Head shape is often not at the top of that list. Usually, a healthcare practitioner is the first to spot a flat spot developing and once the parents see it, it’s hard to not see it. Cue the worrying, Googling, and constant analyzing.

This is where we come in.

Head shape 101

As head shape experts, we are equipped with the knowledge, research, and experience in evaluating and correcting head shape deformities. We help parents determine when treatment is appropriate, what type of treatment is recommended, and how to make the process as smooth and peaceful as possible. Here are our top tips for parents who are just becoming aware of head shape differences and are unsure of when it might be time to reach out for expert guidance.

There is a wide range of “normal” or “optimal” head shape

As is true with body type, personality, and hair color, head shape comes in all kinds of variations. What we look for is general symmetry and roundness, meaning: no significant flatness or sloping that creates differences when comparing right and left or back and front.

To learn how to assess your baby’s head shape using a photo, check this out.

Age matters

A baby’s head grows extremely fast in the first few months of life. We suggest contacting a head shape specialist at the first sight or suspicion of a deformity.

For babies who are under four months of age, it may be possible to correct head shape without the use of a helmet. Once they begin rolling from back to belly, the only source of true correction is through the use of a cranial remolding orthosis (also known as a baby helmet). 

Consequences and risks are not critical, but still important

A common question of parents of babies with head shape deformities is “what might happen if we don’t fix it?” We encourage parents to consider a few consequences of foregoing correction of moderate or severe cases of cranial deformities:

Medical concerns: in severe cases where there is presence of ear, eye, or jaw shifting, there could be a greater risk of developing medical issues such as frequent ear infections or TMJ due to the asymmetrical structure impacting optimal functionality of the anatomy. 

Functional factors: head shape deformities could lead to poor fitting sports, work, and vocational helmets, as well as glasses, hats, and other head wear. All of those products are designed for a symmetrical head, so safety and fit could be compromised if the deformity is severe enough.

Aesthetic concerns: we recognize a parent’s desire to prevent any negative social or psychological experiences within their control. Correcting head shape as a baby can eliminate concern that comes with a misshapen head as the child grows into adolescence and adulthood. 

Treatment has an incredibly high success rate

If you come see us for a helmet consultation, you will hear us say, “Two things have to happen for the helmet to work: your baby needs to wear the helmet, and your baby needs to grow. If those two things happen, the head shape will improve.” The goal for head shape treatment is not perfection; we facilitate a more symmetrical shape and a more round look. Overall, the helmet process is relatively uncomplicated and the babies adjust to helmet-wear beautifully. 

After graduation from helmet treatment, one mom wrote this about the helmet process, “[It was] great, less stressful than anticipated, quicker and smoother than expected, we are very glad we did it… If you’re able to, go ahead and do it. Baby gets used to it so quickly and it should not bother them at all. It is definitely worth it.”

We are Here to Help

At Baby Bear Cranial Clinic, our small-but-mighty team is comprised of an orhotist and an occupational therapist – two practitioners who care about providing the best possible care and who are skilled to do so. We offer free helmet consultations, a specialized head shape program, and many other services to help your family find peace of mind regarding head shape or baby development. We’d love to chat about any questions or concerns you may have. Feel free to use our online scheduling platform to set up a free discovery call or consultation. 

This post was sponsored by the experts at Baby Bear Cranial Clinic.
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