23 doctors weighed in:
Do babies get flat spots on their heads if they sleep on their backs?
23 doctors weighed in

Dr. Julia Sundel
Pediatrics
4 doctors agree
In brief: Yes
Some babies develop a flattened head (positional plagiocephaly) due to spending a lot of time on their backs.
The soft bones of the scalp facilitate brain growth during the first year and can be molded during this time. Make sure to rotate sleeping positions and give your baby supervised tummy time while awake.

In brief: Yes
Some babies develop a flattened head (positional plagiocephaly) due to spending a lot of time on their backs.
The soft bones of the scalp facilitate brain growth during the first year and can be molded during this time. Make sure to rotate sleeping positions and give your baby supervised tummy time while awake.
Dr. Julia Sundel
Dr. Julia Sundel
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1 comment
Dr. Terri Graham
Sometimes. Some babies move their heads frequently, thereby don't seem to get the flattened head.
3 doctors agree
In brief: No
Babies can get flat heads if they lay on their backs most of the time, which is why we recommend daily "tummy time" by one month.
Start with a few minutes each day -- babies especially enjoy being on your chest looking at your face. Besides preventing flat heads, it helps babies become strong enough to crawl. (all babies lose hair on the back of their head about 3 mo -- back sleepers or not.).

In brief: No
Babies can get flat heads if they lay on their backs most of the time, which is why we recommend daily "tummy time" by one month.
Start with a few minutes each day -- babies especially enjoy being on your chest looking at your face. Besides preventing flat heads, it helps babies become strong enough to crawl. (all babies lose hair on the back of their head about 3 mo -- back sleepers or not.).
Dr. Victoria Acharya
Dr. Victoria Acharya
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Dr. Jeffrey Min
Pediatrics
3 doctors agree
In brief: No
No, normally just sleeping on their back does not cause a flat head.
If the head stays in the same position or turned to the same side all the time, that is more likely to cause a flat head. Best to reposition your babies head frequently and give them tummy time while awake to minimize the chances of having a flat head.

In brief: No
No, normally just sleeping on their back does not cause a flat head.
If the head stays in the same position or turned to the same side all the time, that is more likely to cause a flat head. Best to reposition your babies head frequently and give them tummy time while awake to minimize the chances of having a flat head.
Dr. Jeffrey Min
Dr. Jeffrey Min
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Dr. Michael Pappas
Pediatrics
3 doctors agree
In brief: No
Flat spots on babies' heads do not occur because they sleep on their backs, but may occur if they spend most of their day in the same position.
It's very important for babies to strengthen their neck/back muscles to help with head control and movement. Placing your baby on his/her stomach and allowing him/her to try and raise the head will help with muscles strength and head movement/positioning.

In brief: No
Flat spots on babies' heads do not occur because they sleep on their backs, but may occur if they spend most of their day in the same position.
It's very important for babies to strengthen their neck/back muscles to help with head control and movement. Placing your baby on his/her stomach and allowing him/her to try and raise the head will help with muscles strength and head movement/positioning.
Dr. Michael Pappas
Dr. Michael Pappas
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Dr. Laura Webb
Pediatrics
2 doctors agree
In brief: Yes
But these flat spots aren't dangerous.
You can lessen the degree of flatness by making sure your baby turns its head both directions. An easy way to do this is to alternate which side is the head of the bassinet or crib. Babies will generally look towards light, so alternating the head side will cause them to sleep with their head turned each direction.

In brief: Yes
But these flat spots aren't dangerous.
You can lessen the degree of flatness by making sure your baby turns its head both directions. An easy way to do this is to alternate which side is the head of the bassinet or crib. Babies will generally look towards light, so alternating the head side will cause them to sleep with their head turned each direction.
Dr. Laura Webb
Dr. Laura Webb
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Dr. Daniel Rudolph
Pediatrics
2 doctors agree
In brief: Yes
With the new recommendations to keep babies sleeping on their back only, we are seeing more flat spots on their heads due to the constant pressure.
The good news is that most of the time this is reversible. As a baby starts sitting up, has more awake belly time, and the like this takes the pressure off the head so that it can reshape itself. Fortunately only a few babies need actual treatment.

In brief: Yes
With the new recommendations to keep babies sleeping on their back only, we are seeing more flat spots on their heads due to the constant pressure.
The good news is that most of the time this is reversible. As a baby starts sitting up, has more awake belly time, and the like this takes the pressure off the head so that it can reshape itself. Fortunately only a few babies need actual treatment.
Dr. Daniel Rudolph
Dr. Daniel Rudolph
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Dr. Pamela Lindor
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Sometimes!
Many babies get flattening of the back of the back of the head by about age 4-6 months! this usually corrects itself but if it seems severe, ask your pediatrician.
It can be treated with a molding helmet.

In brief: Sometimes!
Many babies get flattening of the back of the back of the head by about age 4-6 months! this usually corrects itself but if it seems severe, ask your pediatrician.
It can be treated with a molding helmet.
Dr. Pamela Lindor
Dr. Pamela Lindor
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Dr. Pamela Lindor
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Yes
Possibly. Because we know it is safest for babies to sleep on their backs, we have seen an increase in the number of babies with "flat spots" on the back of their heads.
Make sure your baby is put in different positions to sit and sleep in the first 4-6 months. Encourage her to look in both directions. Head shape continues to round out until about one year, so most of these "flat spots" go away!

In brief: Yes
Possibly. Because we know it is safest for babies to sleep on their backs, we have seen an increase in the number of babies with "flat spots" on the back of their heads.
Make sure your baby is put in different positions to sit and sleep in the first 4-6 months. Encourage her to look in both directions. Head shape continues to round out until about one year, so most of these "flat spots" go away!
Dr. Pamela Lindor
Dr. Pamela Lindor
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Dr. Kevin Rodbell
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees
In brief: No
If you think your baby's head is misshapen--more than just somewhat flat on the back--see your doctor. Certain medical condition can cause abnormal head growth.
Serious underlying conditions are rare, but can usually be detected by a careful physical examination, or by consecutive exams over a period of weeks to months. Sometimes it's useful for parents to compare to their own baby pictures.

In brief: No
If you think your baby's head is misshapen--more than just somewhat flat on the back--see your doctor. Certain medical condition can cause abnormal head growth.
Serious underlying conditions are rare, but can usually be detected by a careful physical examination, or by consecutive exams over a period of weeks to months. Sometimes it's useful for parents to compare to their own baby pictures.
Dr. Kevin Rodbell
Dr. Kevin Rodbell
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Dr. Kevin Rodbell
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees
In brief: No
For the first 3 years, your baby's head is constantly changing shape.
Newborns tend to lie on their backs, but as they begin to sit, crawl, and walk, the head grows into the new upright posture. Some babies do develop a "flat spot, " but by the time it's noticeable, the head is already growing back into shape. In truth, most adults' heads are somewhat flat on the back --just covered with hair!

In brief: No
For the first 3 years, your baby's head is constantly changing shape.
Newborns tend to lie on their backs, but as they begin to sit, crawl, and walk, the head grows into the new upright posture. Some babies do develop a "flat spot, " but by the time it's noticeable, the head is already growing back into shape. In truth, most adults' heads are somewhat flat on the back --just covered with hair!
Dr. Kevin Rodbell
Dr. Kevin Rodbell
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Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Yes
Babies who sleep on their backs will have a flatter back-of-the-head than babies of 20 years ago, when they were sleeping on their tummies.
A little bit of flatness is now the new "normal". However, if a baby sleeps only on one part of the head, and doesn't move his head around much when sleeping, he might develop an excessively flat area. It is a cosmetic concern, since the brain inside is ok.

In brief: Yes
Babies who sleep on their backs will have a flatter back-of-the-head than babies of 20 years ago, when they were sleeping on their tummies.
A little bit of flatness is now the new "normal". However, if a baby sleeps only on one part of the head, and doesn't move his head around much when sleeping, he might develop an excessively flat area. It is a cosmetic concern, since the brain inside is ok.
Dr. Robert Kwok
Dr. Robert Kwok
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Dr. Jonathan Jassey
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Yes
Yes we see that a lot more nowadays since pediatricians recommending the back to sleep campaign.
But the head is remold able in the first yr of life so good chance it won't stay that way. If severe flattening then might need a helmet.

In brief: Yes
Yes we see that a lot more nowadays since pediatricians recommending the back to sleep campaign.
But the head is remold able in the first yr of life so good chance it won't stay that way. If severe flattening then might need a helmet.
Dr. Jonathan Jassey
Dr. Jonathan Jassey
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Dr. Cory Annis
Internal Medicine & Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Yes
Yes, if they don't move their head from side to side.
To prevent this, alternate which side the baby's head is turned toward each time you lay him down. If you are unable to turn his head easily to one side or the other, consult your pediatrician.

In brief: Yes
Yes, if they don't move their head from side to side.
To prevent this, alternate which side the baby's head is turned toward each time you lay him down. If you are unable to turn his head easily to one side or the other, consult your pediatrician.
Dr. Cory Annis
Dr. Cory Annis
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Dr. Kevin Windisch
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Yes
If left on their back too much of the day it can deform the baby's head, a situation called positional plagiocephaly.
This can be avoided by including daily tummy time.

In brief: Yes
If left on their back too much of the day it can deform the baby's head, a situation called positional plagiocephaly.
This can be avoided by including daily tummy time.
Dr. Kevin Windisch
Dr. Kevin Windisch
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Dr. Sue Hall
Pediatrics
1 doctor agrees
In brief: Yes
Yes, this is a definite possibility, but it does not always occur. The most concerning situation is when a baby prefers to turn his head to one side or the other each time he sleeps, which leads to asymmetric flattening of the back - side of the head.
This is called deformational plagiocephaly. Your doctor may recommend the baby wear a helmet to reshape his head while it can still be molded.

In brief: Yes
Yes, this is a definite possibility, but it does not always occur. The most concerning situation is when a baby prefers to turn his head to one side or the other each time he sleeps, which leads to asymmetric flattening of the back - side of the head.
This is called deformational plagiocephaly. Your doctor may recommend the baby wear a helmet to reshape his head while it can still be molded.
Dr. Sue Hall
Dr. Sue Hall
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