The term “plagiocephaly” may sound alarming when you first hear it in reference to your child—but the good news is that plagiocephaly (which is also sometimes called deformational plagiocephaly or positional plagiocephaly) is actually a very common, very treatable disorder. While it causes a flattened appearance in a baby’s head or face, plagiocephaly has no known medical repercussions.

Plagiocephaly develops when an infant’s rapidly growing head attempts to expand, and meets some type of resistance— either prenatally in the mother’s womb, or after delivery because the baby’s head is pressed against a bed or other flat resting surface. This is analogous to how a stationary pumpkin develops a flat spot in a field: Since it cannot grow into the ground, it conforms to that shape.

A baby’s skull is made up of several sections of bone, connected by fibrous joints called sutures, that fuse later in life. During the first few months of a child’s life, the skull itself is soft and malleable.

Plagiocephaly occurs when an infant’s soft skull becomes flattened in one area, due to repeated pressure on that particular part of the head.

Many babies develop plagiocephaly by sleeping regularly in one position, or by spending extensive time sitting in the same position in a car seat or swing.

Plagiocephaly occurs more often in premature infants whose skulls are even more pliable than other babies. These babies may spend a great deal of time lying down as they receive treatment for other medical complications.

If your child has plagiocephaly, he most likely won’t need surgery. Fortunately, the condition is usually corrected through non-invasive treatments that include special exercises, variations in sleep position and corrective headbands or molding cups.

Plagiocephaly is different from craniosynostosis, which involve much more serious malformations of the skull bones and require more in-depth treatments

Sometimes if you hug them really hard their head will pop back into shape. Other times not so much. Be careful you don't hug too hard or their heads WILL come off. And they are NOT easy to put back on.