Baby Tilting Head to Shoulder Teething

Newborn babies, with the joy and pleasure they bring also come with a lot of peculiarities. Tilting head to shoulder is one of them. The case is, the babies keep their heads tilted to one specific side. Even if the parents straighten it, the head goes right back. So, why is the baby tilting head to shoulder teething?

If the baby is doing it not so often and the head doesn’t go back after straightening it up, then there is no problem. But if this is happening regularly and the baby is refusing to keep the head straight, then it is a problem. The possible reason is a disease called torticollis which is a problem with neck muscles.

This is not a life-threatening disease or anything like that. And the treatment is in most cases very simple. But you should take the matter seriously. Because if you completely ignore it, the problem can increase and give the child a permanent neck problem. We will discuss it in detail.

What causes a baby to tilt head to shoulder?

Although there can be a number of reasons behind this problem the ones described below are the most common or possible ones. 

Congenital torticollis or wryneck

This is the most common reason why your baby might be tilting its head to shoulder. Torticollis or wryneck is a problem involving the muscles in the neck that are responsible for tilting the head. And in this case, there is a knot in those muscles which makes them shorter than the muscles on the other side.

So, now you must be starting to understand why the baby is tilting its head always to one particular side. Because the muscles in that side of the neck are shorter than the ones on the other side. The baby is being forced to tilt its head to that side. 

Congenital torticollis means this disease is present in the child’s body from birth. It might take a few weeks before the parents notice the symptoms. Sometimes it can take a few months until any symptom is revealed. 

Acquired torticollis

You can get an idea from the word acquired that in this case the baby is not born with torticollis. Rather it acquires torticollis after birth because of some particular reasons. The reasons can be problematic birth, bone problems in the spine, or even because of some inherited nervous problem.

In the case of acquired torticollis, the symptoms might not be as clear as congenital torticollis. In this case, the baby might have a problem moving its head in any direction. Then there can be a detectable lump growing in the neck. And after some time you might notice one side of the baby’s face has flattened.  

Klippel-Feil syndrome

Another probable but very rare reason for this head tilting problem can be the Klippel-Feil syndrome. In this case, the problem is started because of the fusion of two or more neck sides or cervical vertebrae. The other symptoms of this disease are broad and short neck, very limited movement of the head.

This is a very rare disease to be found. Torticollis is much more common than this syndrome. So, you will need to consult a physician before making any assumptions.

Is it bad?  

It is not something to become very concerned and panicked over. But at the same time while keeping yourself calm you must take the matter seriously. And the most important thing is to detect the problem as early as possible. It is not that bad at the beginning but it can turn very bad if not treated.

It is quite easy to cure it completely at its early stage. But it will become nearly impossible to cure it later on as the muscles will harden. And the neck of the child will permanently deform. And there can be problems like poor balance, less control overhead movements, and feeding problems.

And another reason why it can turn bad is it can disturb the appearance of the face of the baby. As the baby always puts pressure on one particular side of her face while lying down, that side flattens. And it will become permanent after enough time.

If the baby is diagnosed with the rare Klippel-Feil syndrome, then surely it is bad news. But the good news is there is a cure available for this. 

How to stop a baby tilting head to shoulder?

To stop the baby from tilting its head to shoulder means curing the disease it has. So, let’s see how these possible diseases are cured.

Congenital or acquired torticollis

  • If the baby has torticollis of either type the cure or treatment is the same.
  • As it is a muscle problem which we have mentioned multiple times already, exercises are given primarily to cure this disease.
  • The parents are shown by the physicians how to make the baby do those exercises.
  • Mainly the baby should move its head to another side very frequently so that the tangled muscles in the problematic side are stretched out.
  • By doing this for quite a long-time torticollis can be completely cured. Significant improvements are seen in 6 months.
  • So, detect this disease as early as possible and go with the instructions of the doctor. Your baby will be completely normal very soon. 

Klippel-Feil syndrome

  • This is a rare as well as a more complicated issue. Only physicians will tell you after check-up if this is the case for your baby.
  • Whatever treatment is needed will be done under the supervision of a physician. The treatment can be physiotherapy or even an operation.
  • So, leave it to your doctor and have patience.


Still have some questions? Let’s see the section below.

How do I know if my baby has an ear infection or is teething?

You must pay attention to the dissimilar symptoms. If it is an ear infection the fever will be up to 40-degree centigrade whereas in the case of teething it remains below 38 degrees. If it is an ear infection; your baby might have had a cold too. There will also be discharge from the ears. And the child will lose balance. 
While on the other hand, if it is teething then the gums of your baby will either swollen and red or sore and tender. The baby will drool excessively too. 

Why does my baby keep tilting his head to the side?

In most cases, the reason is torticollis. It is a disease that causes the muscles in one side of the neck to become shorter than the other side. So, the baby is forced to tilt its head to the side with shorter muscles. So, it is possible your baby has torticollis and it is a very common problem. 


Baby tilting head to shoulder teething is a quite common problem that the parents of newborns have to handle. Sometimes there is no particular reason behind it which is a relief. But sometimes the reason is a common disease called torticollis. And in most rare cases it can be Klippel-Feil syndrome.

Do not panic if your baby is doing it but at the same time take it seriously. In most cases, it will be torticollis if there is actually a problem. Go with the exercise treatment the doctor suggests. If it is the rare Klippel-Feil syndrome then leave the treatment completely to your doctor. Keep your baby safe. 

Sarah, a health writer and editor since 2014, is an adoring wife and dedicated mother to 2 daughters and 1 son. As the creator of Babies Plannet, she combines her extensive expertise with her maternal dedication to provide essential care and safety advice for infants, nurturing their well-being and happiness. Her writing explores topics like fitness, pregnancy, and women's healthy lifestyles.

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