Posts Tagged ‘plagiocephaly’

Do Baby Helmets Really Work?

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

baby helmetsMy son Levi was born with, well, let’s just say it. He has a big head. It’s always been big. I mean, off-the-charts big head. He is still precious as can be, however. When he was a few months old, his head started to get a flat spot. My pediatrician assured me that this would correct itself as he began to crawl.

Fast forward to the months of crawling. His head got worse. He slept on his back in his crib or rock-n-play sleeper, so I wasn’t sure why this was happening. Many times it can be treated early on with simply adding in more tummy time or repositioning baby as he or she sleeps. It became noticeable that maybe his head wasn’t going to correct itself.

Plagiocephaly is also called flat-head syndrome. After getting two referrals, we took my son to an orthopedic office where I was told he had this. I had only known one child who had to wear a baby helmet, and I didn’t want my little boy to wear one. Part of me was embarrassed. Why did he have to wear this giant thing and what did I do to cause it?

Positional plagiocephaly is most common in babies. Extra pressure in a certain spot can cause a flat spot. For Levi, this was the back. Babies can also develop plagiocephaly if there is restricted movement in the uterus, but this is much more rare. Babies born prematurely, who sleep well, or who have larger heads are more prone to develop plagiocephaly. Plagiocephaly is not just a cosmetic concern, either. The skull needs to be reshaped to give it room to develop properly.

So, we got a baby helmet. Let me say first, this thing was not cheap. They cost around $4,000 and insurance doesn’t cover the total cost. They aren’t pretty either. Luckily, they do come in cute prints. I let my daughter Johanna choose Levi’s. It is blue with green martians. He is cute, so he can pull it off. The helmet has a Velcro strap that we have to pull tight, and Levi is not a fan of me putting it on him. It has to be cleaned daily with rubbing alcohol and water. Most babies have to wear their helmet 23 hours a day for 2 to 6 months. It sounds crazy, but my son doesn’t even notice it is there.IMG_1507

The good news is that these helmets really work. Levi’s measurements have improved greatly. He is starting to have a beautiful head. It has been worth it–worth all of the stares and comments directed toward my baby boy. He makes it look cute. I will almost miss his sweet little face in the helmet when it’s gone soon.

Karyn Meyerhoff is a mom of two in Northeast Indiana. She loves her baby boy, big head and all. He’s super cute.

Avoiding Flat Head

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Avoiding Flat HeadWhen my son was a baby, a mom friend of mine with a son the same age noticed her baby’s head seemed to be developing a flat spot. She was concerned and took him to her pediatrician; turns out, they recommended he be fitted for a helmet that would reshape his head. This was totally new to me. I had never even heard of this, let alone see a baby wearing one.

I found out then that it’s not terribly uncommon. Flat head, or plagiocephaly, cases have gone up since pediatricians began recommending babies be put to sleep on their backs (for SIDS reduction). Babies can develop them if they sleep in one position for a long time, or even from their car seats. They form because babies are born with very pliable skulls, and the skulls will mold to where they feel pressure (this is also why babies born vaginally often have cone-shaped heads for a bit after they’re born).

If you notice your child has a flat spot, you definitely want to bring it up with your pediatrician. The upside to babies having those pliable skulls is that in mild cases, they can resolve on their own with parents taking precautions, and in more significant cases can be treated with occupational therapy and/or an orthotic helmet or headband like my friend’s son had.

So how do you avoid this? Having your baby lay in a variety of positions each day is important. Tummy time not only builds your baby’s strength, it also gives the back of her head a break from resting against a flat surface. Baby wearing is also a great way to give the back of your child’s head a break. Reducing the amount of time your child is in a carseat can help, and turning your child’s head alternating directions when you lay them down on their backs to sleep helps, too. And remember, the earlier you catch it, the easier it is to correct.

Meaghan Howard is a mom to two little boys, ages 3 and 6. She’s currently enjoying the expat life in Japan.