The first time you see your baby, there are many emotions: relief, pride, anxiety, and… Wait, is that a birthmark?! Is their skin yellow? Is it a conehead baby or a normal shape?
All newborns are born with a variable head shape. However, you can expect a vaginally delivered baby to have a slightly extended or pointed “cone” shape. This is normal.
Amazing things can happen in the human body. Your baby’s skull is designed to fit through the narrow and tight birth canal. It has two large soft areas and bony plates that can compress and overlap as they pass through the cervix.
A baby born via cesarean section generally doesn’t have a lot of a conehead. A conehead baby is becoming less common due to increasing numbers of cesarean deliveries (about 32 percent Trusted Source)
However, regardless of whether you have a cesarean or vaginal delivery, your baby may have a noticeable or extreme cone shape if they “dropped” into your pelvis before you deliver.
How long does the cone head last?
The skull of your baby is designed to change shape during this stage. Most babies will regain their round appearance in 48 hours. Some may take longer.
Don’t be alarmed if your baby’s skull remains conical longer. The skull’s growth plates won’t close completely until adolescence so don’t worry.
If the cone shape does not change after a few weeks or you are concerned, make a list and put it in your bag. You can then discuss your concerns with your pediatrician at your next wellness visit.
Can you fix coneheads?
Between 2 and 3 weeks after birth, your baby’s head will return to its original round shape. There are other factors that could influence the shape of your baby’s head, however. These are:
- Resting in the same place
- Pressure on the skull’s back
- When your baby is lying on their back, don’t alternate the direction that their heads face.
- Distortions due to trauma or genetic abnormalities
There are steps you can take if your baby’s conehead seems to be lasting longer than expected. You can take lots of photos and enjoy the conehead cuteness while it lasts.
Your baby shouldn’t be laying on its back or with its head in a single position too much. This could cause plagiocephaly (flat side of the head).
Different positions can be encouraged by moving mobiles around or placing them in different directions during the day.
To relieve pressure from the back and alleviate any tension, you can hold your baby or carry it in a carrier. To allow your baby to change positions, you can use swings or baby seats. For each feeding, alternate sides.
Your baby should be able to have supervised tummy-time at least once a day. Tummy time can help your baby build stronger neck muscles and back muscles. It will also give them more control over their heads so that they can distribute head pressure evenly.
Helmets and head shapes
Your baby’s doctor may recommend a molded helmet for your baby if the unevenness continues to persist after repositioning at 6 months. The custom-fitted helmet helps relieve pressure from the flattened side of your baby’s head.
Molded helmets work best when they are used between the ages of 4 and 12 months. This is when the skull remains malleable and brain growth is rapid. After age 1, the skull bones fuse together and head growth slows down, a molded helmet won’t be as effective.
Beyond the positional
Sometimes a muscular problem, such as torticollis, can cause a baby’s head to be tilted one way or the other. Physical therapy can be helpful in this situation to stretch the affected muscles and allow the baby more freedom to change their head positions.
Rarely will two or more bony plates of a baby’s skull fuse before birth. As the brain develops, rigidity can cause other parts of the head to become distorted. Craniosynostosis is a condition that affects infants. The brain needs to have enough space for growth and development, so the fused bones need to be separated surgically.
Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about the shape of your baby’s head.