What is Torticollis:

Torticollis is a condition involving muscles of the neck and is common in infants.  Increased muscle tension in the neck muscles cause an infants head to tilt.

Torticollis can occur at birth (congenital muscular torticollis) or it can be developed after birth (acquired torticollis). Acquired torticollis typically occurs in the first four to six months of life.

Possible causes of Torticollis:

  • Torticollis may be caused by tightness in the muscle on one side
  • Common possible causes of Torticollis include:
    • Large birth weight or length, breech position, decreased amount of amniotic fluid, Mother’s 1st pregnancy, trauma at birth, use of forceps at delivery, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), positioning after birth such including time spent in a stroller, car seat, or swing.

What Torticollis Looks Like

  • Your baby’s head tilts to one side with their chin pointed to the opposite shoulder. In about 75% of babies with torticollis, the right side is affected
  • Your baby’s head doesn’t turn side to side or up and down easily.
  • You feel a soft lump in your baby’s neck muscle.
  • Your baby prefers to look over the shoulder at you. Their eyes don’t follow you because that would require turning their head.
  • They have trouble breastfeeding on one side or prefers to feed on one side only.
  • Your baby works hard to turn toward you, struggles to turn their head all the way, and becomes upset because movement is hard.
  • They might start getting a flat head on one side or both sides from lying in one position all the time.

Things to help your baby:

  • Exercises/Stretches
  • Repositioning — If you are noticing your baby prefers to look one direction over the other, try some repositioning techniques!
    • Alternate sides during feeding
    • Sleep position
    • Tummy time
      • Recommended minimum of 60 minutes per day – start in short spurts and work up Baby’s time to increase endurance
        • Baby does not like their tummy? There are different ways to stimulate the same muscle groups without placing baby on their tummy. For example, prop baby over a poppy pillow
        • Check out this video for more ideas
    • Limit time spent in equipment
      • Stroller, car seat, swing, etc.

What an Appointment will look like

  • At the initial examination, the Physical Therapist will take a detailed history including pregnancy history, labor and delivery history, baby’s head posture and preferences, developmental mile stones.
  • The Physical Therapist will observe your baby’s movements in various positions like baby’s tummy, back, and in sitting. The Physical Therapist will assess baby’s neck and shoulder motion, screen for hip dysplasia, assess the sternocleidomastoid muscle, look at baby’s head shape, and screen reflexes and age-appropriate motor milestones.

What to expect:

The sooner treatment is initiated, the better. If treatment is initiated at 3 months old, intervention time will typically last 1.5 to 3 months. If treatment is initiated past 3 months old, intervention may range between 3 to 6 months. Once treatment is started, be prepared to check-in with your therapist up to 1 year following therapy to ensure your baby is growing and developing to their best ability.

Author: Devery Huddleston PT, DPT

Call to schedule an appointment with one of our Pediatric Therapists today – (307)686-8177


1. Brennan, D. What is Torticollis? Webmd. October 14, 2020. https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/what-is-torticollis#1

2. Torticollis. Boston Children’s Hospital. https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/t/torticollis

3. Five Essential Tummy Time Moves, How To Do Tummy Time. https://pathways.org/watch/five-essential-tummy-time-moves-how-to-do-tummy-time/

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