Does your baby’s head look more flat than round? Don’t panic. This is far more common than most parents think, and there are things you can do to help.
One of the first things I did when my child was diagnosed with plagiocephaly (another name for flat head syndrome) was look for products to prevent the condition from worsening.
I spent hours researching to find the best infant pillows for flat head syndrome and came up with this list of five excellent options.
These pillows met my criteria of being comfortable, safe, supportive, and easy to clean. They are excellent for babies whose heads are already showing signs of flattening or to prevent the condition. Read on to learn more about plagiocephaly and to find the perfect supportive cushion for your little one’s head.
- 100% certified organic cotton
- Reversible design
- Grows with your child
- Provides optimal neck support
- Distributes pressure over the skull
- Suitable for newborn to three months
- 100% organic European cotton
- Compatible with car seats
- Easy to install
- Supports head and neck
- Machine washable
- Works with three- and five-point harnesses
The Best Pillows for Flat Head Syndrome of 2023
Here are our favorite pillows to help with flat head syndrome.
WelsLife Organic 3D Air Mesh Organic Cotton Seat Pad Liner
Most Versatile Design
If you’re looking for a quality pillow with a variety of options, this protective pillow by WelsLife Organic is a good option. It’s made of hypoallergenic cotton filling to ensure safety and comfort to sensitive skin, and the outer fabric has a breathable 3D-air mesh construction.
It has multiple uses, and when you’re too tired to start a new load of never-ending laundry, this pillow is reversible, so your baby can use both sides. That may sound gross, but hey — we’ve all done it at some point.
You can choose from five designs, including an animal world theme and Bambi pinks, so there’s an option to match any nursery theme.
It’s also machine-washable, but we recommend hand-washing so it will last longer. If you decide to machine wash the pillow, be sure to do so in cold water on the gentlest setting available. It’s made from 100% certified organic cotton and is completely eco-friendly.
This pillow works best in strollers, bouncers, and infant swings.
- 100% certified organic cotton through strict testing.
- Reversible design.
- Hypoallergenic for sensitive skin.
- Causes sweating in warm settings.
Kakiblin Baby Travel Pillow
Best Baby Pillow for Travel
This circular infant pillow is great if you’re looking for versatility. Most designs are only meant for when a baby is lying on the ground, but this pillow can be used in a variety of places.
It’s recommended for use when lying down to play, in a bouncer or other baby seat, in the stroller, and while nursing. As parents, we’re all about versatility, and this pillow fits the bill.
While the description shows that you can use this pillow in the car seat, it’s unsafe to use any additional cushioning in a car seat. Restrict the use of your infant pillow to places other than your vehicle (1).
This pillow also advertises its use in the crib, but you should always keep pillows, blankets, and other items out of the crib until your child is a toddler (2).
The great thing about this pillow by Kakiblin is that it can transition with your child into toddlerhood. This is especially helpful if you plan on traveling by plane. It will provide optimal neck support to your toddler.
It’s machine washable and available in 100% cotton fabric.
- Grows with your child.
- Can be used in a stroller or bouncer.
- Available in several colors.
- The pillow needs to be fluffed often to keep it from flattening.
Babymoov Lovenest Baby Head Support Pillow
Great Baby Pillow for Travel
From the day you bring your little one home, you can use this pillow to prevent flat head syndrome. It’s a super-compact, portable, lightweight pillow. It’s small enough to fit in bassinets, swings, strollers, and bouncers. Your baby can also use it when they are relaxing on a floor mat.
Just make sure to monitor your baby while they are using the pillow. Never use it overnight while you’re sleeping.
This pillow is suitable for newborns to 3-month-olds when they spend the most time on their backs. The comfortable cocoon shape prevents postural plagiocephaly.
We love that this pillow is machine washable because it saves you time. Lay it flat to dry, or hang it on the line, and it will be ready to use again within hours.
- Portable and lightweight.
- Distributes comfortable pressure over the skull.
- Suitable for newborns to 3-month-olds.
- Textile made from 100% European organic cotton.
- Machine washable.
- The cover isn’t removable, so it can take a while to dry.
- Might prevent babies from turning their heads while they’re using it.
- Doesn’t fit in every bouncer, swing, or seat.
Boppy Noggin Nest Head Support
Best Neutral Design
This head support is a great option for parents looking for a shaping pillow that will match a woodsy nursery theme. It is compatible with most strollers and swings.
This is recommended for babies from infancy to 4 months old. The soft cotton blend fabric is comfortable for naps and shouldn’t snag your baby’s hair while they’re lying on it.
It has three gender-neutral designs to suit your decor.
It’s machine-washable and should be dried on the lowest tumble-dry setting or hung to air dry. The company states that this pillow is very durable and should still hold up well even after multiple uses and washings.
This head support is also super convenient. Because of its small rectangular size, it can easily fit into a diaper bag, so you can take it with you whenever you need to go out. Nothing makes a parent happier than less weight and more portability.
- Easy to install.
- The item is small, only 11 inches wide.
- Materials are not purely made of cotton.
Boppy Dinosaur Head and Neck Support
Best Multifuntional Infant Pillow
Parents love this cute dinosaur design. The unique design is a great talking point; it’s cute and super comfortable for your baby.
It has the perfect cutout to support your little one’s head and neck. This lets your baby fully relax after tummy time. This pillow is specifically made for strollers, bouncers, and swings.
This pillow works with three-point and five-point harnesses, so your little one will remain secure and safe in any approved seat.
While the pillow is made for babies up to four months, you can take out some of the inserts to make it more comfortable. This allows the pillow to grow with your child, and they can still use parts of it even as a toddler.
- Supports head and neck while your baby is in a stroller, bouncer, or swing.
- Suitable for newborns to toddlers.
- Easy to clean in the washing machine.
- Works with three- and five-point harnesses.
- Super soft and comfortable.
- The design is a little awkward; the arm support is very close to the head.
- Excess padding may be too much for smaller babies.
What Is Flat Head Syndrome?
Flat head syndrome most typically happens when an infant is frequently laid on their back. This is most common in babies because their skull is still forming and is extremely soft and pliable.
Since the enactment of the Safe to Sleep campaign (lying babies on their backs during sleep time to reduce the risk of SIDS), flat head syndrome has become more of a concern among parents (3).
While it typically resolves on its own, pediatricians recommend lots of tummy time and periodically turning your baby’s head when they’re lying on their back.
Too much time on their back is the most common cause of flat head syndrome in babies, but there are other causes (4):
- Skull-molding while still in the womb: This can happen when there isn’t a lot of amniotic fluid to cushion the baby’s head while they’re still in utero. This usually resolves on its own.
- Premature birth: With less time to develop fully, premature babies often have differently shaped heads.
- Muscular problems: Issues like torticollis can cause a stiff neck and limited movement.
- Craniosynostosis: This is when a baby’s skull forms too soon. This may require surgical intervention, so consult your pediatrician if you suspect it.
Treatment and Preventative Measures for Flat Head Syndrome
There are several things you can do to combat flat head syndrome in any situation. Whether they’re sleeping, traveling, or enjoying playtime, you can ensure your baby isn’t in one position for too long.
You should always lay your baby to sleep on their back to help prevent SIDS. Flat head syndrome is a concern with this, but you can combat it by alternating which side of the crib you lay them down on.
If possible, you can also move the light source to different areas in their bedroom, as babies are typically attracted to light. When they’re sleeping, take care to shift your baby’s head into different positions to alleviate the flattened side as well.
While your baby is playing, try to have them play on their tummy as much as possible. Not only will this help strengthen various muscles, but it will also keep plagiocephaly at bay.
Of course, some babies just aren’t fans of tummy time, and we can’t leave them on their tummies forever. In this case, you can shift their head position so they aren’t favoring one side for too long.
To learn more about how to treat flat head syndrome at home, check out this video from Stanford Children’s Health.
Another way to combat flat head syndrome is to invest in an infant pillow. These pillows are designed specifically with infant skulls in mind.
They’re made to put minimal pressure on the back of a baby’s head and evenly distribute pressure on both sides of the skull.
Infant pillows for flat head syndrome can come in handy if you have a fussy baby who doesn’t like to follow the rules.
As per the Safe to Sleep campaign, pillows aren’t recommended for babies during sleep until they’re at least a year old (5).
If using an infant pillow with a smaller baby, you should be cautious and watch them at all times while they’re using it, and never leave them unattended.