Torticollis In Babies/Infants - Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Torticollis In Babies

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Is your child facing difficulty while turning his neck? Do you find his neck titled all the time? Well, if you can relate your child to the above situations there are chances that he may be suffering from torticollis.

Torticollis or wry neck is a condition that causes the baby’s head to tilt to one side. The chin of the baby points to one shoulder, and the head tilts towards the opposite direction. It is common to have torticollis in infants. About ten to twenty percent of babies suffer from congenital torticollis. Your baby may also develop this condition after he is three months old. Fortunately, the problem gets better with stretching exercise and simple position changes. Read on to know all the facts related to torticollis and how you can treat it.

[ Read:Tongue Tied In Infants ]

Causes Of Torticollis In Infants:

Congenital torticollis is due to the tightness of the sternocleidomastoid muscle (1) that connects the collarbone and breastbone to the skull. The cramping of the fetus inside the uterus due to its breech position can also cause torticollis at birth. The bones may form or fuse abnormally and lead to Klippel-Feil syndrome (2). Congenital torticollis may also affect children who suffer from fractures and side effects of medication.

[ Read: Intussusception In Babies ]

Symptoms Of Torticollis:

A torticollis baby usually act normal, except when it comes to turning their head. Symptoms of torticollis include:

  • Tilting of the baby’s head in one direction.
  • A small bump on the side of the baby’s neck.
  • Baby facing difficulty while breastfeeding one side.
  • Baby suffering from frustration due to his inability in turning his head completely.


The doctor will perform a physical examination of the baby to notice if he tilts his head to one side. It involves seeing how far the baby can turn his head. He will suggest an X-ray of the spine to check for bone malformation. If the baby complains of an unstable hip along with torticollis, then the doctor will do an ultrasound to see if the baby has a developmental dysplasia (3) of the hip. Doctor may suggest you to take your baby to a physical therapist for an intensive treatment. The therapist will monitor your child’s progress for two to four weeks.

Treatment At Home:

Infant torticollis is treatable.The treatment of torticollis is necessary to prevent the child’s skull from growing unevenly. Your physical therapist will teach you some stretching exercises to practice with your baby. These exercises will help to strengthen your baby’s neck. Encourage your baby to turn his head in both directions. It will loosen the tense muscles and will tighten the loose ones.


While feeding the child, use the bottle or your breast in such a way that encourages the baby to turn his neck in the direction opposite to the tilt. Place the crib in such a way that your baby turns his head in order to see the room. While putting the child to sleep, make him face the wall. Babies like to look out of the room, so this way he will actively turn away from the wall and stretch his tightened muscles. While playing, draw your child’s attention with sounds and toys that make him turn his head in both the directions. Make your baby lie on his tummy while he is awake for a small period. Talk or sing a song so that he turns to face you. It will not only strengthen his neck and shoulder muscles, but will also prepare him for crawling.

[ Read: Bow Leggs In Babies ]

How Long Does It Take To Correct Torticollis?

It will take up to six months or even a year for the torticollis to go away completely. If your baby’s neck position is not improving with these exercises, then talk to your doctor. The doctor may recommend a surgery to release the sternocleidomastoid muscle that helps cure most cases of torticollis.

Did your child suffer from torticollis? How did he recover from it? Share your experience with us in the comments section.

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