Preferred position and flattening of the head/skull in babies

Some babies develop a preferred position. What exactly is this? How does a preferred attitude arise? What are the possible consequences and what can you do to prevent or remedy a preferential posture (as far as possible)? What is a redress helmet (also called a skull helmet) and to what extent does wearing this helmet help to give the head a nice round shape?

What is a preferred position?

In a preferred position, your baby turns its head to one specific side every time, the preferred side.

How does a preferred attitude arise?

The reason why a preferential attitude arises is not always easy to pinpoint. Sometimes a child has a preference for a certain side since birth. It may be that certain muscles were compressed during birth, making it more comfortable for the child to turn the head in a certain direction (the preferred side). Sometimes a vertebra has shifted by a mm, causing a child to have pain when turning to a certain side. In addition, there has been an increase in the number of babies with a preferred position since the advice to have babies sleep on their backs to prevent cot death. Babies can also develop a preferred position sooner if they spend a lot of time in a Maxi-Cosi, rocking chair and/or rocker. Therefore, if possible, do not use the Maxi-Cosi, rocking chair or rocker for more than 30 minutes per day. Your baby is very limited in its movement options. For good development it is important that a baby can move freely.

On the stomach

It is important to place a baby on the stomach when he or she is fully awake so that he/she can train and use the arm, neck and back muscles. The prone position is a much more active position than the supine position.

Flattening of the head/skull

Because a baby with a preferred position turns the head to one specific side every time, flattening of the head/skull can occur due to overload of the skull on one side. It is therefore important to identify and address any preferred posture as early as possible. The sooner the preferred position is discovered, the greater the chance that your baby will respond to the measures to prevent a flat head.

Tips to prevent a flat head/preferred position

  • Alternate feeding left and right
  • Place your baby on the stomach regularly
  • Place the changing mat straight in front of you or alternate changing left and right


Tips if there is already a preferred position

  • Feed on the non-preferred side
  • Change your baby so that he/she has to look at you through the non-preferred side
  • Position your baby so that attention is drawn to the non-preferred side
  • Position the crib and/or playpen so that your baby can only look at something interesting on the non-preferred side
  • Hang a music box on the non-preferred side
  • Place your baby on the stomach regularly
  • Play a game where your baby is tempted to follow you on the non-preferred side


Referral to physiotherapist or osteopath

If your baby cannot look properly at the non-preferred side, it is important to go to the doctor for a referral to a physiotherapist or osteopath.

Redress helmet (skull helmet)

If the preferred position has caused a flattening of the head, a correction helmet (also called a skull helmet) is often recommended to correct this flattening. The helmet is individually fitted so that the convex parts of the skull fit into the helmet and growth is inhibited. There is more room for the flat side of the skull. This forces the skull to grow in the desired direction and the flattening ‘disappears’. It is best to start using the correction helmet before the 7th month. Your baby must wear the helmet 23 hours a day (usually 6 months). This duration is built up in steps of a number of hours. The hour without a helmet is for bathing and cuddling without a helmet. By the age of one year, the skull has become too hard to correct. It is often more difficult for your baby to wear a recovery helmet than for the child itself. Children have little trouble with it and play and sleep with it without any problems. However, it does happen that these children bump their heads more often the first time they stop wearing the helmet. In addition, skin irritation and excessive sweating can occur (especially in the summer).

Research redress helmet

Research by scientists at the University of Twente has shown that it is not necessary to wear a correction helmet if the head is flattened due to a preferred position. The round shape of the head also returns without wearing the correction helmet. It is then important to start taking the aforementioned measures so that the skull is less loaded on one side.

read more

  • The language development of young children
  • Reading aloud is important for children’s language skills
  • Moving with (young) children
  • Warts in (young) children
  • Teething problems with spots
Scroll to Top