Torticollis: The Sneaky Cause Of 4 Infant Feeding Issues

baby breastfeeding

Can Torticollis Cause Feeding Issues In Babies?


Torticollis, also known as a wry neck, is a condition that can affect infants from birth. It is characterized by a twisted or tilted neck, caused by a tight or shortened muscle on one side of the neck, or an injury during childbirth. While torticollis is a treatable condition, if left unaddressed, it can have a significant impact on an infant’s ability to feed and grow.

Infants with torticollis often experience difficulty latching onto the breast or bottle, reduced range of motion in their neck, fatigue during feeding, and an increased risk of reflux. These feeding difficulties can cause frustration, upset, and poor feeding habits, which can ultimately impact an infant’s nutrition and growth.

It is crucial for parents and caregivers to address torticollis early on and seek help from a pediatrician or pediatric physical therapist. With the right strategies and support, infants with torticollis can improve their range of motion, alleviate feeding difficulties, and achieve their feeding milestones. In this article, we’ll explore how torticollis affects infant feeding and provide actionable tips to help parents and caregivers support their little ones.

Torticollis can affect infant feeding in several ways:

Difficulty Latching

Infants with torticollis often have difficulty latching onto the breast or bottle due to the position of their neck. When the head is tilted to one side, the mouth may not be able to form a proper seal around the nipple, leading to frustration and crying during feedings. This can be particularly challenging for breastfeeding mothers who may experience discomfort or nipple damage from repeated attempts to get the baby to latch.

To address this issue, parents can try different feeding positions that can help the baby maintain a comfortable position. For example, a football hold or a side-lying position may be easier for the baby to feed in. It may also be helpful to use a nipple shield or bottle nipple that is specifically designed for infants with feeding difficulties.

Reduced Range of Motion

Infants with torticollis may have a limited range of motion in their neck, which can make it difficult for them to turn their head to one side to nurse or take a bottle. This can lead to poor feeding habits and can impact their overall nutrition and growth.

To help improve the baby’s range of motion, parents can work with a physical therapist or pediatrician to develop exercises that can be done at home. These exercises may include gentle stretches or positioning techniques that can help the baby become more comfortable turning their head to the affected side. It may also be helpful to provide plenty of tummy time to strengthen the neck and shoulder muscles.

Fatigue During Feeding

Infants with torticollis may experience fatigue during feeding because they have to work harder to maintain their head in a comfortable position. This can cause them to tire quickly and become less interested in feeding.

To help alleviate fatigue during feedings, parents can try feeding the baby in a more upright position, such as a bouncy seat or infant swing. This can help reduce the amount of effort the baby needs to exert to maintain their head position. Additionally, parents can try to keep feeding sessions shorter and more frequent to prevent the baby from becoming too tired.


Infants with torticollis may be more likely to experience reflux because of the position of their neck during feeding. This can cause them to spit up frequently or become fussy during and after feedings.

To help reduce the incidence of reflux, parents can try feeding the baby in an upright position and keeping them upright for at least 30 minutes after a feeding. This can help prevent stomach contents from flowing back up into the esophagus. Additionally, parents can work with a healthcare provider to determine if medication or other interventions may be necessary to manage the baby’s reflux.


Torticollis is a treatable condition that can have a significant impact on an infant’s ability to feed and grow. However, with early intervention and support from a healthcare professional, parents and caregivers can help their little ones overcome the challenges associated with torticollis and achieve their feeding milestones.

If you suspect that your baby may have torticollis, don’t hesitate to consult with a pediatrician or physical therapist. They can assess your baby’s condition and provide guidance on exercises, stretches, and positioning techniques to improve your baby’s range of motion and alleviate feeding difficulties.

Remember, feeding is not just about nutrition – it is also an opportunity for bonding and connection between parents and their babies. By addressing torticollis early and proactively managing feeding difficulties, you can help ensure that feeding time is a positive experience for both you and your little one.

You can get started reducing torticollis with some tips found in our resources for torticollis.