Back to Blog

Preventing a Flat Head & The Fuss Over Tummy Time

Feb 06, 2022

Your concern for your baby’s proper development is one of the many things that makes you such a great parent. As someone who wants to be a great pediatrician to great parents, I am here to tell you that you needn’t obsess over flat heads and tummy time. 

Flattening of your baby’s head is common. The need for helmets to correct flat heads is not. In the seven years I’ve been practicing as a pediatrician, I have had fewer than five babies need a helmet. I know it seems like every baby you see is wearing one because once you see one at church, then you’re primed to notice them at Target and the zoo, too. They jump out at you because they’re often decorated and noticeable. But trust me when I reassure you that your baby’s flattening head probably does not require a helmet and is a normal part of development. Babies sleep on their backs, which is why the flattening happens on the back part of baby heads. That’s OK—and actually, it’s a good time to remind you that back is best when it comes to baby sleep. We know babies are safest from SIDS when they sleep on their back, so that puts things into perspective. 

Maybe you’ve heard that tummy time prevents flat heads. It’s absolutely true that getting baby off his or her back during wake periods goes a long way toward resolving flat heads (that’s why we see flat spots go away around 4-6 months when baby starts to be upright more!), but tummy time is not the only answer. Just keep your baby upright or off his/her back for parts of each day one way or another! What does that look like?

  • Wear baby
  • Hold baby (or have a helper hold baby while you take a little break!)
  • Have baby sit supported in a high chair or baby seat
  • Play with baby on your leg or lap
  • Lie down and let baby lie on your chest

Are you feeling some relief and reassurance? I love to equip parents with info that simplifies their lives and calms their concerns. If you want more of that, check out my Brand New Baby course, where I take you through the first 8 weeks of baby’s life in a quick, on-demand format. 

As I mentioned, safe baby sleep is something I feel strongly about. And while it can cause temporary flatness in baby’s head, it is the best way to prevent SIDS. For details on this, check out my FREE Safe Sleep workshop and dive deeper into sleep issues and solutions in my Mighty Sleepers course.

Dr. B

Stay in the loop!

Subscribe to the Raising Good Parents Blog to have parenting articles sent straight to your inbox.