5 Ways To Reduce A Flat Spot: Safe, Comfortable, & Effective

Sleeping child with head turned right

How To Reduce A Flat Spot At Home


Babies are recommended to sleep on their backs to reduce the risk of SIDS. However, that does not mean we should prevent head turning or rolling. When your baby lays downs turning them to the other side supports the symmetrical development of the skull. This results in the potential reduction of their flat spot.

It can cause an anxious night and loss of sleep for parents who are hyper-vigilant about repositioning. As a parent, you do not need to hover as you want your baby to be comfortable in moving off their flat spot. Constantly repositioning them every time they begin to move can also cause them to wake. Too much attention can be detrimental.

Positioning pillows are not recommended to support taking pressure off. This is due due to the potential SIDS risk. Having items in the bed with a baby is not recommended.

Eliminate restricted positions

Restriction in a baby’s body contributes to a sustained position. Eliminating or reducing the use of containers is key. This means wearing your baby during the day and doing tummy time when they are awake. Swaddling can also contribute to reduced motion as well. Items that are designed to keep your baby asleep also contribute to restricted motion and can contribute to the development of a flat spot..

Balancing keeping a baby soothed and keeping them off their flat spot is key when it comes to supporting skull development. External soothing may be causing them to stay on their flat spot. By reducing those mechanisms, while still allowing parents to sleep, a baby can begin to move off of their spot on their own.

Support neck movement

Neck tightness can be a primary factor in the development of a flat spot. Torticollis causes them to be restricted to one position due to it being a position of comfort. It can be difficult to help a baby move out of this position with home exercises.

The first step is to support motion away from their side of preference. This can be either turning the head or tucking the chin down. Supporting a baby out of their position of comfort gradually goes further than trying to “stretch” them out of it.

Moving through tears should usually be avoided to allow the baby to recover in a comfortable and comforting way.

Spend as much time on tummy as possible

Flat spots have increased with babies sleeping on their backs. When they are sleeping by themselves “back is best.” When they are awake or they fall asleep on you being chest to chest can reduce the forces on their flat spot. This in turn can help their skull development.

Tummy time does not have to be on the floor. Tummy time on a parent, a water mat, or a pillow can benefit a baby with a flat spot. Often babies with limited motion and a flat spot tummy time can be uncomfortable. Because of the discomfort compensations are important to support movement and motor development. Variety goes a long way with babies who struggle with tummy time and modifications can be key to support the activity.


Movement should be consensual

We should not force a move. This can look like waking up when you turn your head while asleep or crying when supporting their motion off the side. When it comes to tightness we want to be supportive of motion not forceful.

A step-by-step process usually works better when it comes to supporting motion. There is no need to fix a restriction immediately. Your baby’s preference did not develop overnight and we want to support them out of it to help them feel and move better.

Interventions should not go through tears