What is Torticollis in babies?

torticollis in babies


What is torticollis?

In its truest form, the term comes from two Latin words: tortus, which means twisted, and collum, which means neck. Sometimes it's called “wryneck.” 

It can happen to adults, children and babies alike.  Today I’m going to specifically talk about babies, as I just had a patient come in with torticollis yesterday and it’s sitting heavy on my heart.

So, a baby with torticollis is typically stuck with their head turned in one position to the right or left.  In other words, they can only look left or look right.  Looking in the other direction proves difficult and/ or painful.

Typically if a baby has this condition, they were born with it, as being cramped in the womb and/ or childbirth can cause the babies neck to become “kinked” when they arrive in this bright, beautiful world.  

There are a few key issues with this condition… and I’m mostly coming from a practical standpoint and from the things I’ve seen in practice.


  1. Baby might have difficulty nursing on both breasts.  In saying that, a baby who is stuck looking to the right only, might only want to nurse on the left breast.  Nursing on the right breast might pose a problem in that baby can’t turn to the left to nurse on the right breast.
  2. Baby might be sleeping on the one side only, which can lead to a soft spot on their head… which can lead to wearing a helmet.
  3. Baby might be getting upset in that they can’t turn to watch other siblings or happenings in the other direction from which they’re stuck.


This is why adjustments and mobilization are so important for this particular condition.  Adjustments create movement and mobility in the neck and allow baby to turn their head.  In my experience, treatment for this can take one adjustment… or a few… no matter, adjustments are critical for treatment.  

If you’ve dealt with this, I welcome your stories and/ or feedback.  This can be a sensitive topic for parents, and for good reason.  I’m here for support and/ or guidance.  


Thank you for reading and for being a part of the CHIRO FOR MOMS journey.