Is this head shape a serious concern?

Cone head baby

Our providers at Alzein Pediatrics have seen thousands of newly born babies before they go home from the hospital. We know that even before Instagram was a thing, pictures of newborn babies were often carefully staged to show babies’ “best side.” Hospitals and parents place sweet little caps and bows on the baby’s head and while it seems as if they are just staying warm, that cap or bow is also disguising the shape of the newborn’s head.

When your new baby arrives via a headfirst, vaginal delivery, they pass through the cervix and birth canal. This space is typically about 4” in diameter during the final stages of labor, and baby heads are around typically 6” in diameter – making it absolutely incredible that babies can emerge at all. As you might imagine, there is a significant amount of pressure in the birth canal. Thankfully, your baby’s skull is not all in one piece at this time; it is made up of plates that shift to pass through this very small space.

When your baby emerges, especially if they have “dropped” early, there has been a difficult labor, or forceps or a vacuum extraction has been used, new parents might be very taken aback at the shape of their baby’s head. Medically, this misshaping is called caput succedaneum, but it’s also commonly called cone head.

About one in three babies born vaginally will have a cone-shaped head. Caput succedaneum, or  caput, can be barely noticeable to very severe, with swelling and fluid accumulation at the top of the head. Parents can be extremely concerned.

Don’t freak out. Caput doesn’t last forever and it is not an indication of developmental delays. It does not hurt your baby.

The cone shape generally resolves itself, often by the time Baby goes home, in about 48 hours. Your child’s head will continue to slowly mold itself into permanent shape for several years to come, until the plates fuse over the fontanelles, or soft spots, at about 26 months old.

If your baby’s head retains the cone-shaped more than a few weeks, make an appointment with us, or bring it to our special attention at your next well baby visit. Depending upon the progress their skull has made in reshaping itself, they may need to be screened for other issues.

Do you have questions about the shape of your baby’s head? Send us a message through your portal! We are always happy to help!


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