My Baby Needs a Helmet | Brachycephaly

Note: I have a lot of visitors find this blog post via Google search. If that’s you, welcome! Please feel free to ask a question in the comments below or e-mail me (melissad [at] signingtimeacademy [dot] com). Our baby has been helmet-free since September 2012, but I remember clearly the guilt, fear, and questions! I’m happy to share our experiences if that helps another family through it.

Our oldest daughter was a 26 week micropreemie with a myriad of health issues. Around her first birthday, her occupational therapist suggested that Addie might have torticollis (“wry neck”). I started doing research and learned a ton about torticollis, plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, and helmet therapy. Ultimately, Addie was cleared for torticollis (she just needed glasses!) and our pediatrician told us that we had missed the window for helmet therapy. As a result, our five year old has untreated “flat head syndrome”, which is really only noticeable when her hair is wet.

When our second child was born healthy at 37 weeks, I was much more aware of the flat spot on her head from birth. Babywearing was HUGE for us. Kate was only in her carseat IN the car–no stroller, bouncy chair, or swing, either. But despite our best efforts, her head was still VERY flat. At her four month well check, her pediatrician recommended helmet therapy to us and we began our nine month journey to a rounder head.

After meeting with a cranial surgeon, we were told that Kate did not require surgery (craniostynosis) and we were referred to a handful of helmet providers. At six months old, Kate received her helmet! We all expected it to be a difficult transition, but Kate had no difficulties whatsoever. We ordered cute decals from an Etsy shop and that really helped people feel comfortable asking questions about the helmet. We heard over and over again, “She has such pretty eyes!”

In no time at all, the helmet was part of our regular routine! Kate was a trooper, even in the warm summer months. We dressed her in very light clothing all summer since it didn’t take much for her head to start sweating She had no problems meeting her developmental milestones–in fact, we actually appreciated the extra protection as she learned to sit up, crawl, and stand. 🙂

Looking back on our helmet experience, I’m VERY glad that we did it. The time seemed to drag by, but it was such a short time in our lives. Her head will never be as round as other children, but we made great progress and I think that only other helmet parents would notice.

Brachycephaly: when a child’s head is wider than it is long, resulting in a flat spot across the back of the head.. A person’s Cephalic Index (CI) should ideally be in the mid-80s–Kate’s was 104% when she first got her helmet.
Plagiocephaly: when the flat spot is on one side of the head. The assymetry is measured in millimeters. Many times plagiocephaly is caused by torticollis (a tightening in the neck) or from spending too much time in one position.

**Helmet therapy is becoming much more prevalent as doctors realize flat head syndrome is more than just a cosmetic issue–when you encounter one of these sweet babies, it’s important not to stare or give your children false information (“His mommy didn’t hold him enough. “Some babies fall down a lot.”). Comment on the helmet’s stickers or just give the parents a friendly smile.**

Have you had any experiences with babies wearing helmets?
Share in the comments below!

Related: Questions about Brachycephaly? Ask ’em!

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10 thoughts on “My Baby Needs a Helmet | Brachycephaly

  1. Amazing results! My son wore a corrective helmet for brachycephaly in 2011. He went from CI of 100% to 91% in six months. I think the biggest misconception is that kids with flat head syndrome were restricted to their swings/bounces/car seats, or that parents didn't hold them enough. Like you, we wore our son all the time! I think it's so important that we as parents start a dialogue about the condition and the treatment. Parents need support, not judgement. Your daughter looks beautiful!

  2. Sam, I am so glad you stopped by! Crazy to think your son was going through treatment before Kate was even born (but I suppose that's true of babies being diagnosed now). I think we may have been in the same FB group…your little guy looked familiar to me.

  3. Thank you for this honest and candid message. I never had to encounter this with my son, and am very glad to be more informed!! After spending time with the girls, I can honestly say I have never noticed a flattter part of Katie's head!! Great job. Thank you!!!

  4. My preemie wore a helmet. Like your daughter she adjusted wonderfully. It was such a difficult decision to make but so glad that we chose to do it. The process for us was just day to day normal. Now for me the hardest part was the other people. Who would think you would have to deal with people staring at an infant. Anyways thank you for sharing your story with everyone. If just one person learns about it you've done a wonderful thing.

  5. Thank you for sharing! We actually missed some of the positive attention when the helmet came off, but I've noticed now when we see a baby in a helmet that (most of the time), the mamas keep their eyes down. Hard because I want to be encouraging, but not intrusive!

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