What is Torticollis ? 

Torticollis is the term used to describe the tightening of a muscle in baby’s neck. It is the shortening of one of the neck muscles, the sternocleidomastoid (SCM), which results in the baby’s head tilting slightly to the side and rotating in the opposite direction. 

What are some causes of torticollis?

  • Position of baby in utero (higher risk with twins or pregnancies with growth restrictions)
  • A long/difficult labour and delivery which can cause muscle spasms in baby’s neck
  • A preference of looking one direction over the other, eventually leading to the muscle shortening
  • Having a flat spot on the head may cause the baby to always rest in this position and over time, tightens the muscle

These are some conditions that appear like torticollis and are important to rule out: 

  • Vision difficulties
  • Hearing difficulties 
  • Reflux or GERD 
  • Viral infections 
  • Improper alignment of the spine 

How will torticollis impact my child?

Imagine your baby trying to develop their gross-motor milestones while their head is always tilted and looking one way. They will have difficulty with the following:

  • Learning to roll both directions
  • Learning how to sit independently
  • Discovering where the center of their body is (discovering midline)

Furthermore, torticollis can often lead to plagiocephaly – a flat spot on baby’s head, because of a preference to always rest in one position. See our plagiocephaly post here: Help! My baby has a flat head!

The neat thing about torticollis and plagiocephaly is it can be corrected quite easily, especially from a young age. EARLY INTERVENTION is key, and easiest to treat. 

What to expect during an assessment with your paediatric physiotherapist:

  • We will see how your baby’s neck moves to determine if there are any restrictions
  • Rule out the more complicated causes of torticollis
  • Provide tips to help to correct this and if warranted, give you stretches and strengthening exercises appropriate for the stage of your baby’s development
  • Depending on baby’s age and severity of the torticollis, we may also track your baby’s head shape to ensure they’re not developing a flat spot

Remember, the EARLIER the BETTER. It’s much easier to work on positioning and stretching exercises with younger babies, and that can allow us to introduce strength exercises at the optimal time. 

If you have any questions, please contact us at! We’re able to provide assessments over video call until we get over the COVID-19 hurdle. You do not need a referral for physiotherapy.

Written by: Karly Dagys, Physiotherapist

Playgrounds are a great place for kids to improve gross motor skills, strength and confidence.There are lots of things you can have your child try when they are on the playground to provide different challenges. Often times, kids will gravitate to the areas of the playground that are easiest for them. Incorporating other playground equipment or ideas into their play is a great way to physically challenge them, bring awareness to other ways to use play structures and be a fun task for both of you!

5 Things to Try

  1. Balancing along the edge of the playground, often times there is a border to the play area you can walk along.
    Walk forwards/backwards/sideways
  1. Climbing down a ladder rather than going down a slide or fireman’s pole. Kids typically master climbing up, however have difficulty climbing down.
  2. Hanging from monkey bars if fully completing them is too challenging. Monkey bars are difficult! As a stepping stone to learning how to achieve the monkey bar goal you can assist your child in hanging from one of the bars and set a time goal, such as 5 seconds.
  3. Sideways up the stairs to challenge different muscles. Going up the stairs sideways is another way to get to where they want to go, AND you are strengthening different leg muscles! Make sure to try both directions.
  4.    Climbing up slides is a great way to target back, leg muscles and core! Make sure you get to the park early to try this one out, so you have the slide to yourself.

You can also try a more hands-off approach at the playground to allow your child to explore on their own limits. This can be a fun way for them to challenge themselves and experiment with different ways of play. We hope you have fun trying these out during your next park adventure!

Happy Playing!

Maegan Mak & Kate Heays


Understanding Your baby’s development.

We are so glad you asked. It can be confusing for new parents to understand exactly where their child’s development is currently at. Luckily, we can help break it down into understandable milestones and processes, eliminating the guesswork and give you a greater understanding of your child’s health and motor skill development.

What are Motor Milestones?

Infant motor milestones are a specific skill that we expect babies to reach around a certain age range. Often times parents will be aware of the major milestones such as rolling, crawling and walking, but not know the ones in between. I find parents have lots of questions about what they should be expecting to see next, what ways they can help their babies achieve various milestones and what toys are appropriate for their baby’s specific age.

What does a physio assessment look at?

In these sessions, I observe how the baby moves and assess where they are for their age. From here I educate the parents on where their baby is compared to other babies of the same age. If the baby is behind in any gross motor skills I describe what they should be doing and specific tips to help them achieve this. If the baby is on track, we discuss what to expect next and different ideas of how to facilitate devolvement of that particular skill. We practice the movements and exercises together to ensure the parents are comfortable with doing them at home.

Another area covered in the infant motor milestone session is positioning for their baby.

Many of the babies I see will spend majority of the time on their back, a portion on their tummy, a bit of time in a seat of some sort and then being held by family members. There are different ways to hold babies, pick babies up and different ways for them to be on the floor which all assist in their development. This is information that parents are usually happy learning about and implement into their daily routine immediately!

What parents say…

I hear time and time again how being a new parent is overwhelming and it’s difficult to know what information from the internet is correct. Families love coming in to learn about where their baby is at from a physical stand point and learn strategies to help them reach their next milestones. They appreciate the one on one time spent with them and the safe environment to ask questions about their baby. Often times, moms will say, “I wish I knew about this sooner!”

What about baby toys?

On top of the gross motor skills, I often get asked about what sorts of toys are worth purchasing and which toys provide the most benefit for their baby’s development. I find that it’s not so much about the toy but about the different ways they can use the item. As a pediatric physiotherapist, I can identify several different purposes and benefits of an average toy. If families already have certain toys or equipment I will give them different strategies on how to use it to gain a specific developmental milestone. If they are looking to purchase new toys then I give suggestions on ones that are good for development at their baby’s specific age. Parents find this beneficial because they don’t want to spend money on a toy that will be used for a short period of time or one that that doesn’t promote different areas of development. Space is a large issue for many families as well, and they do not want to fill their space with unnecessary toys or equipment.

Stay Tuned!

Infant motor milestone assessments are just one reason why kids or babies come to physiotherapy! Stay tuned for more information on why kids come to physiotherapy. I will be releasing more blog posts on different reasons of why kids come to physiotherapy!




Photo by li tzuni