There’s no need to worry if your newborn’s head is an odd shape. It’s common and should soon even out.
There are two soft spots on your baby’s skull, which are known as fontanelles. They are there so that her head can easily pass through the birth canal. This process is called moulding.
The gentle pressure that happens during moulding may have resulted in your baby’s head becoming misshapen. This odd shape will even out as the soft spots close, and the bones in her head meet and fuse.
Your baby has two soft spots on her head. The one at the back of her head is often difficult to feel and usually closes at six weeks. The other soft spot is more obvious and can be easily felt as a slightly dipped area of skin on the top of the head. This doesn’t usually close until after 18 months.
It’s also common for a young baby to have a flat area at the back of the head. This is usually because babies are placed on their backs to sleep, which reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Other reasons that your baby may have a flat area on the back or side of her head include:
Prematurity. If your baby is premature, her bones will not have fully formed and will be very soft, meaning her head is more likely to be misshapen as she comes down the birth canal. Premature babies also take longer to control their heads than babies born at term, so they can’t relieve the pressure on a particular spot until they’re much older.
Multiple pregnancy. Your baby’s head may be an odd shape if she shares your womb (uterus) with one or more siblings.
Low amniotic fluid (oligohydramnios). If you have low amniotic fluid your baby does not have as much room to move around and is not as cushioned as babies with a higher level of fluid.
The medical term for the flat area on the side of your baby’s head is plagiocephaly. If the back of her head is flat, this is called brachycephaly. While her head may be noticeably misshapen, it’s usually nothing to worry about.
You can help your baby’s head return to a more rounded shape by altering her position while she’s asleep, feeding and playing.