Open a PDF version to print this topic

HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Twisted neck in babies (torticollis)

Kakī takawiri ki ngā pēpi

Torticollis (or wry neck) is when a baby's neck is bent or twisted to one side.

Torticollis is usually caused by a tight or short muscle at the side of the neck. It first appears when the pēpi (baby) is 2 or 3 weeks old. Torticollis may be caused by the baby's position in the womb.

Flat head in babies (plagiocephaly) is often associated with torticollis. This is because having the neck twisted to one side for a long time may cause a flat area on that part of the head.

Symptoms of torticollis

A pēpi with torticollis may:

Treating and preventing torticollis

Almost all torticollis caused by muscle tightness will get better before your pēpi turns 1 year old.

If the torticollis has not gone by then or if you're concerned that it isn't improving earlier than this, see your general practice team for advice.

Doing the activities below can help and will reduce the chances of your pēpi getting a flat head.


Side lying and carrying


Tummy time


If you've tried the above advice for a month and your baby's neck isn't getting any better or if you are worried, contact your general practice team or Well Child Tamariki Ora provider.

Written by Child Development Service, Montreal House, Canterbury DHB. Adapted by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2022.


Page reference: 241920

Review key: HITNB-241920