September 30, 2023

A child’s head form just isn’t at all times completely spherical. Right here, a pediatrican walks us by toddler head form improvement and doable medical considerations from new child to toddler.

baby's head shape

Infants don’t at all times have a superbly spherical formed heads, and it’s simple to begin worrying as a brand new mother or father.

Why does my child have such an odd head form? Will they ever look regular? Is the uneven form an indication of some underlying situation?

The top of a new child differs from that of an older toddler or toddler. Untimely infants have softer cranium bones than full-term infants. As well as, there are elements that may change a child’s head form. Some head shapes could also be an indication of an issue or underlying medical situation. You will need to distinguish what form is regular from what is an indication of an issue.

To kind out what’s regular and never, we requested Pediatrican Leah Alexander to stroll us by toddler head form improvement and doable medical considerations.

Your Child’s Head Form: Regular Growth, Medical Considerations

The Anatomy of an Toddler’s Head

An toddler’s head consists of an outer layer of furry pores and skin, underlying muscle, and the cranium bones. Within the cranium lies the mind with its connecting nerves and blood vessels. The mind is surrounded by a liquid known as the cerebral spinal fluid. This fluid each cushions the mind, and offers a conduit for vitamins and removing of mobile waste.

At beginning, the cranium is separated into 5 bone items which are held collectively by connective tissue. This construction is necessary to permit mobility of the cranium bones because the child’s head passes by the beginning canal. It additionally leaves room for the mind to develop over the primary few years of life. The open areas between the bones are known as fontanelles. Most newborns have 4 of those “tender spots,’ the biggest of which is positioned on the highest of the pinnacle.

Additional time, the cranium bones develop, harden, and are available collectively to type a whole vessel for the mind.

The Regular Development of Fontanelle Closure

Every fontanelle closes at a special time all through the primary two years of life. The scale of the anterior and posterior fontanelles are sometimes bigger amongst infants of African ancestry. The anterior fontanelle closes earlier in boys than it does in women.

fontanelle closure

If any of those openings shut too quickly, the cranium can prohibit mind progress. Any that stay open longer than anticipated can point out a head dimension that’s too giant.

At routine nicely visits, the physician will look at your child’s head to test for indicators of an issue. Its dimension will likely be measured and recorded on a head circumference chart. This permits any issues to be detected early. What is taken into account a “regular” head dimension differs for every toddler, and is influenced by hereditary elements.

It’s extra necessary that the pinnacle to develop at a gradual and constant fee, and for it to be proportional to the dimensions of the toddler’s physique.

Causes For Irregular Toddler Head Shapes

Beginning-related Causes

Extended Supply

Typically, the beginning course of itself alters the form of a new child’s head. When a vaginal supply takes longer than the anticipated period of time, the toddler’s head can change into molded inside the beginning canal. This will end in what some dad and mom name a “cone-shaped head.”

Luckily, this can be a momentary concern. The tender connective tissues and versatile cranium bones return to a standard form throughout the first week of life.

Vacuum Extraction

If an assistive machine is used throughout the supply to assist the toddler’s head move, the stress may end up in a brief head form abnormality. Normally, a vacuum machine is used, attaching it to the infants head to drag because the mom pushes. It’s used when fetal misery happens, and the child should be delivered rapidly. It might additionally forestall a caesarean part.

After a vacuum process, the child might have a “cone-shaped” head resulting from swelling beneath the scalp from the suction pressure of the vacuum machine. This swelling, known as a caput succedaneum, self-resolves inside the first two days of life.

Alternatively, an accumulation of blood might type beneath the scalp, known as a cephalohematoma. A troublesome supply of an toddler with a big head might trigger it as nicely. In contrast to a caput succedaneum, this assortment of blood is often positioned on one facet of the pinnacle. It could take one to 2 months for a cephalohematoma to go away. Because the blood breaks down, it could trigger the child’s pores and skin to seem yellow, or jaundiced.

Whereas nonetheless within the hospital, docs might order a blood check to ensure these blood byproducts usually are not at a excessive stage. The scale of the cephalohematoma will regularly lower because the blood inside it’s reabsorbed and metabolized. Bigger ones, nonetheless, might take extra time to resolve, and might calcify, making a everlasting change within the form of the cranium.

Head Form Abnormalities Related to Positioning


Throughout the first few months of life, dad and mom might discover that an space of their child’s head begins to seem flat. This head form change is named plagiocephaly. It most frequently happens because the child’s head rests on a flat floor for prolonged intervals of time.

The again of the pinnacle is the most typical location due to the period of time infants spend mendacity on their backs. This kind is extra particularly known as brachycephaly. By age three months, 46 % of infants have some quantity of head flattening. It might, nonetheless, be current at beginning in new child twins or multiples resulting from in utero stress towards the pinnacle.

Some infants develop flattening one facet of the pinnacle together with facial asymmetry. These infants are inclined to look extra in a single route than the opposite, leading to stress on that very same facet of the pinnacle. Normally, the child can simply flip the pinnacle in both route, however there’s a desire for one facet.

Some infants, nonetheless, have a neck muscle drawback that limits head actions. If a proper or left sternocleidomastoid muscle is injured throughout beginning, it may end up in torticollis. In such conditions, intervention is important to enhance neck mobility and stop longterm issues.

Due to weeks to months of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) care, many untimely infants develop head form adjustments. One or each side of the child’s head could also be come flat resulting from prolonged intervals of mendacity on a hospital mattress. This head molding is extra seen in preemies born previous to 30 weeks gestation who require longterm hospital care.

Fontanelle Closure Issues


If a number of “tender spots” shut sooner than anticipated, this will trigger an uncommon toddler head form.

For instance, if each side of the anterior fontanelle shut too quickly, the pinnacle will seem “pointed” and elongated. In distinction, if the precise facet of the anterior fontanelle closes earlier than the left facet, the child’s head will protrude on the left facet.

This cranium abnormality is named craniosynostosis. There are additionally instances the place this closure happens in utero, though it might not be seen at beginning. Over time, the irregular head form turns into evident.

Maternal thyroid illness and a few fertility medicines improve the chance.

Craniosynostosis is problematic as a result of the child’s mind doesn’t have room to develop. To stop longterm problems, surgical intervention is important.


Macrocephaly is outlined as a bigger than regular head dimension. When plotted on a head circumference chart, the child’s head is above the 97th percentile or what’s regular for many infants.

The bigger head dimension of some infants could also be constant that of their dad and mom, however you will need to rule out problematic causes of macrocephaly. Hydrocephalus and different causes of elevated stress inside the cranium require rapid medical consideration.


Hydrocephalus happens when there’s an excessive amount of cerebral spinal fluid across the mind. This extra fluid will increase stress inside the cranium, and might harm mind cells. Hydrocephalus can develop on account of an excessive amount of fluid manufacturing, or a structural abnormality that blocks fluid outflow. It might additionally develop after a traumatic supply.

As well as the child’s head showing too giant, different indicators embrace a bulging anterior fontanelle, downward place of the child’s eyes, seizures, and lethargy. In additional subtile instances, the closure of fontanelles is delayed.

Improve Intracranial Stress

Any irregular construction that kinds inside the cranium will increase stress on the mind, and might lead a bigger than regular head dimension.

A mind abscess might type if an an infection happens throughout the neonatal interval. Beginning trauma may cause bleeding across the mind, forming a set of blood inside the cranium.

Mind tumors additionally improve stress on the mind. Signs are much like these seen with hydrocephalus, however the toddler could also be very irritable resulting from complications. Frequent vomiting might happen that’s extra voluminous than regular toddler reflux.


A smaller than regular head dimension is named microcephaly. It might be current at beginning, or the pinnacle might subsequently fail to develop at a standard fee. This head abnormality is related to a smaller mind dimension, mind structural abnormalities, and impaired cognitive improvement sooner or later. It might happen alone, or together with different bodily abnormalities.

Infants with this situation have visibly bigger faces and jawlines. There are a number of causes of microcephaly, together with genetic mutations, infections, and prenatal publicity to alcohol, medicine, and different toxins.

In recent times, maternal Zika virus infections have been linked to toddler microcephaly. As a result of mind improvement is irregular, all types of microcephaly are related to longterm neurological issues.

Beginning Defects

There are a number of medical circumstances current at beginning which are related to an irregular head form. In these instances, the child’s cranium bones don’t type correctly whereas rising in utero. This will even be poor formation of nerves and their connections inside the mind.

Congenital head abnormalities can happen on account of genetic mutations, hereditary predisposition, prenatal poisonous exposures, and infections. Many are related to microcephaly or macrocephaly. Abnormalities elsewhere on the physique might also be current.

Though there are an unlimited variety of explanation why an toddler has a beginning defect, a couple of particular ones are price mentioning:

abnormal baby head shape due to birth defects

What Head Form Abnormalities Require Remedy?

Most childbirth associated head form abnormalities self-resolve, and don’t require therapy. One exception is that if a calcified cephalohematoma develops that causes a major head deformity. Mother and father might go for surgical correction in such instances.

The suggestions for administration of plagiocephaly fluctuate.

Normally, conservative measures comparable to extra “stomach time” and upright positioning as core muscle power improves are ample to advertise the return of a standard head form.

Molding helmets have change into common “re-shaping” choices amongst dad and mom. Though their use has been endorsed by the American Affiliation of Neurological Surgeons, some medical research haven’t discovered vital enhancements in an toddler’s head form.

If dad and mom select one of these intervention, the optimum time to hunt an analysis toddler is round six months. Ready till this age is right as a result of the pinnacle flattening might have already improved or self-resolved. After 18 months previous, therapy with a molding helmet might be tougher and take longer. When an toddler’s plagiocephaly is related to torticolis, bodily remedy is the mainstay of therapy. Mother and father can proceed methods utilized in remedy periods at house. Persistent instances require neurology or surgical evaluations.

Head form abnormalities brought on by underlying medical issues typically require neurosurgical intervention.

To cut back the elevated intracranial stress of hydrocephalus, a shunt is surgically implanted from the cranium to the stomach to be able to drain the a number of the fluid across the mind.

A mind abscess or assortment of blood might require surgical drainage.

Fontanelles that shut too quickly should be surgically re-opened to permit the toddler’s mind to develop usually. Molding helmets could also be used after surgical procedure to additional enhance head form.

Sadly, there isn’t a therapy for microcephaly or the sequelae of many beginning defects. Signs are managed by a multidisciplinary group that features neurologists, developmental pediatricians, geneticists, and craniofacial specialists.

Incessantly Requested Questions on Child’s Head Form

How lengthy does it take a standard toddler’s head to “spherical out”?

If areas of a child’s head have change into flattened throughout the first few months of life, they need to naturally start to “spherical out” between six to eight months previous.

Do infants outgrow torticollis?

Torticollis just isn’t a head form concern, however a head place concern. It’s a situation the place your child’s neck muscle groups trigger their head to twist and tilt to at least one facet. So, do infants outgrow torticillis? Sure. Bodily remedy is often initiated by age two months, and 97 % of instances fully resolve. If, after six months of bodily remedy, there isn’t a enchancment, botox injections or surgical procedures could also be thought of.

Is torticollis linked to autism?

No. There is no such thing as a affiliation with autism.

Do pillows assist scale back plagiocephaly?

Whether or not or not a pillow reduces plagiocephaly has not been studied resulting from dangers to the toddler. Pillows, blankets, and different tender surfaces usually are not beneficial for infants, and improve the probability of sudden toddler dying syndrome (SIDS).

Will my two 12 months previous’s head “spherical out?” At what age is a baby’s head form everlasting?

A toddler’s head will proceed to reshape itself, albeit at a slower fee, till all the fontanelles shut at age three. The cranium bones are additionally extra calcified, and have a thicker density at this age.

How widespread is it for an toddler to have a “cone head?”

There are not any statistics on the prevalence of momentary molding that happens throughout supply. A caput succedaneum (i.e. cone head”) is seen in as much as 33 % of infants.

Do pediatricians test head form?

Sure. At every nicely go to, a child’s head is examined for any form abnormalities. Head measurements are recorded on a head circumference progress chart.

What’s megalencephaly?

Megalencephaly is the time period for an abnormally giant mind dimension in an toddler. This differs from macrocephaly which displays the dimensions of the cranium.

Megalencephaly is commonly related to malformations of the mind tissue itself or the blood vessels that provide it. Consequently, the toddler or youngster might have seizures, spinal wire issues, and delays in speech and motor abilities. This situation is commonly a part of a genetic dysfunction that additionally impacts limbs and different organs.

Are ridges on a child’s head regular?

Some infants and toddlers have outstanding bone edges across the fontanelles which are seen on the pores and skin floor. Normally, these are regular. Nevertheless, if these ridges are related to a misshapen head, it’s probably that the fontanelles are closing too quickly.

Mother and father ought to have this evaluated by their pediatrician, and the child ought to be referred to a neurosurgeon for imaging.


As seen, there are a lot of each beginning associated, place associated, and medically associated explanation why a child’s head form could also be uneven. You will need to keep in mind that in most case, the pinnacle form abnormalities self-resolve, and don’t require therapy. Nevertheless, since not all abnormalities self-resolve and a few instances of uneven head shapes are resulting from medical circumstances that want therapy and a spotlight, you will need to seek the advice of a pediatrician if you happen to discover something uncommon about your child’s head form. 


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