- Try Sleep Switch: Left, Right Repeat to reduce pressure on one side of the head, preventing flat spots and tight neck muscles on one side.
- Learn about flat head (plagiocephaly) and tight neck muscles one one side (torticollis).
- Follow crib safety tips, limit the use of infant containers, and place baby on their back to promote safe sleep and prevent issues.

Whenever you lay baby down to sleep in their crib, there is one simple step you can take to help prevent two common conditions: positional plagiocephaly (flat spots on the head) and positional torticollis (tight neck muscles on one side). Here’s one of the easiest ways to help prevent plagiocephaly and torticollis in baby: Sleep Switch, Left, Right, Repeat!

How does this work?

  • When you lay baby down on their back in their crib, they will be drawn to look at you from their crib.
  • They may fall asleep with the head in that direction.
  • This causes baby to rest on alternating sides of their head every night, which reduces the pressure on one side of the head, and turns the neck in both directions.
  • Over time, this helps to prevent plagiocephaly and torticollis!

Switch positions baby sleeps in the crib to prevent plagiocephaly

💡 To help remember this tip, assign a direction that is associated with even days, and another direction that is associated with odd days. You can even put a sign on the wall above the crib (make sure to not attach the sign to the crib, and make sure it is securely adhered to the wall). Then depending on what day it is, place your baby in the crib on their back in that direction.

Learn more about how to keep baby safe in their crib by following these crib safety tips!

What is positional plagiocephaly and positional torticollis?

Positional plagiocephaly:

  • Also known as flat head syndrome.
  • Occurs when baby develops a flattening on the back or side of the head.
  • If left untreated, babies with plagiocephaly may develop vision problems and asymmetries of the head and face.

Positional torticollis:

  • Also known as tight neck muscles on one side.
  • Occurs when the muscles on one side of baby’s neck become stiff or tight, which causes baby’s head to tilt to one side. This may also cause rotation on the opposite side of the neck.
  • Can affect a baby’s posture, causing them to favor one side of their body.

What are some tips to prevent plagiocephaly and torticollis when baby is awake?

  • While doing daily tasks. Alternate sides when carrying and feeding baby. This allows them to rest and turn their head in different directions.
  • During play. Alternate the direction baby faces during playtime when on their back. When doing this, some time the baby looks to the left to see the people or toys, and other times to the right.
  • Do Tummy Time. Tummy Time can be done as soon as baby comes home, and is a great way to strengthen baby’s neck and core muscles! Learn more about doing Tummy Time with baby.
  • Limit time in strollers, car seats and carriers. Both of these conditions can develop when a baby spends too much time on their back or in infant equipment when awake. Learn more about limiting use of infant containers.

Remember, baby should always sleep on their back!

Following back to sleep and tummy to play helps to keep baby safe and prevent plagiocephaly. Learn more about how to make sure baby stays safe while they sleep.

💡 Is baby not the biggest fan of Tummy Time? That’s ok! There are so many ways to help baby get the Tummy Time they need. Watch these tips from an expert pediatric physical therapist.