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Positional plagiocephaly

Sleeping and lying with their head always turned to one side can cause flattening or misshaping of your baby’s head. This is called plagiocephaly.




Tips to help prevent positional plagiocephaly

  • Alternate the side to which your baby turns their head each time you are laying them down.
  • Do not place pillows, rolls, or moulded mattresses into the cot or under your baby’s head while they are sleeping. These are dangerous and can increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
  • Practice lots of tummy time and other developmental activities to help your baby develop head control and strong neck and shoulder muscles, see ‘Tummy time’ LINK
  • If you are concerned talk to your baby’s doctor or physiotherapist.

Equipment to avoid

  • Baby bouncers and bouncer seats: These can cause your baby to do a lot of bouncing and pushing backwards. This can over strengthen some of your baby’s muscles and lead to muscle imbalances. For example, this may make it more difficult for your baby to use their arms to reach forward and can encourage them to stand on tiptoe.
  • Jumpers or door jumpers: While many babies love to stand and bounce, which is a normal part of development, spending time in jumpers teaches babies to stand on their toes and can cause stiffening of the ankles. It also stops them from strengthening their tummy (core) and hip muscles. 
  • Walkers and entertainers: These do not help babies to learn to walk better. They can lead to delays in walking independently or poor walking patterns. 
  • Pillows: Pillows are dangerous for babies. No pillow reduces the risk of positional plagiocephaly.

Toys for preterm babies

The best toy for your baby in the early days is you. They do not need lots of toys or equipment. As your baby develops, they may enjoy short exposures to the following:

  • Baby books designed with large contrasting patterns (often in black and white) may help to encourage vision and focus. 
  • Small toys like rattles are excellent for encouraging reaching, grasping and mouthing skills.
  • Toys of different texture and sensory experiences help touch and sensory development.
  • Balls of different sizes are very useful for grasping and exploring, and later for reaching and encouraging movement.

Babies playing together/ with examples of toys mentioned above