My Helmet Baby (Squared)

Our family's journey with plagiocephaly

Graduated!!

Emily has officially graduated from her helmet.  Here is the proof!

Her Oblique Diagonal Difference went down to 1mm (i.e. one diagonal was only 1mm different from the other diagonal) and her Cephalic Ratio went down to 88% from 91%.  I didn’t even realize that she had a touch of bracycephaly, but honestly, I did wonder since her head seemed a little wider than I might have expected.  I think it is amazing that one diagonal of her head grew almost 1 cm while the other diagonal only grew 3 mm.  Below, I’ve shown diagram from her initial and final scan which superimposes a drawing of Emily’s head before the helmet and a drawing from after the helmet (yesterday.)

You can see in the drawing that the left side of her forehead grew more than the right side, and that the right back side of her head grew more than the left back side of her head.  With a 1mm Oblique Difference, her head is probably rounder than ours now!  I really wish we had gone for a final scan for Samantha’s head too, but after 6 months in the helmet, I wasn’t about to make ANOTHER appointment for her just to get the scan done.  It certainly would have been awesome to see though.  I’m sure we would have seen a much more dramatic difference in the 2 head drawings for Samantha.

Here are some pictures of Emily in her helmet during her last days in the helmet, and then our ceremonious removal last Friday.


Here are some pictures of Emily’s head afterward.  It looks great!

I am so excited that we are done with this whole process, but at the same time, I’m so glad we did it.  To all the parents out there (and other family members) who are contemplating doing this, it is only a few months in the whole scheme of things, and if you have the means, do it to help your child if their head is moderate to severe.  You can wait it out to see what happens, but I’ve talked to other people and have seen posts from people on different message boards from parents who WISH they had acted on it sooner, and then it was too late.  If you think that your child has a head shape issue, make sure that your pediatrician takes it seriously at a young age.  It is like braces – it is not something that is detrimental for your child to live, but if you have the means to make it better, you would do it.  However, unlike braces, you can’t fix this later.

To new parents (pass this along!!):

1. Do lots of tummy time, even if your baby hates it.  Around 3-4 months, when the baby has more neck control, use Bumbo seats (or similar) to keep them off their head sometimes.  Another option to keep them off their heads is wearing them in a front or back carrier, or a sling if their head is positioned differently each time.

2. If you notice your child’s head turning to one side all the time, speak to your pedicatrician about neck and head stretches.  Put toys and mobiles on the opposite side.

3. If your child’s head has started to develop a flat spot on one side, it doesn’t look “round”, it appears to be shorter in length then width, or you are worried about these types of things occurring because they always look to one side, you should research repositioning methods and try to use reclined seating less (bouncy seats, car seats, swings.)  See #1 and #2.  We also had our daughter side sleeping at a young age, being propped up off the flat spot with a rolled receiving blanket.

4. If the flat spot isn’t rounding out on its own by 4-5 months of age, talk to your pediatrician about getting a referral to a specialist or a cranial remolding facility.  If they blow you off, INSIST that you see a specialist.  Your child may still need physical therapy if they turn their head to one side a lot or have a head tilt (see torticollis video here), so you may need a referral for that too (from your pediatrician or a specialist.)  Don’t wait because then you may miss a window of opportunity to correct your child’s head shape.  It is better to do this when they are younger.

5. If your child needs a helmet, it isn’t the end of the world.  They won’t remember it except from you telling them or from pictures.  It probably won’t bother them as much as you think it will.  You will miss your child’s head, but you also learn to really savor the moments when he/she doesn’t have it on.  Your baby may get a lot of attention with a helmet on, and most of it will be good.  You will become a stronger, more aware parent during the process (and if you research like me, you will probably think you are an expert!  ha ha)  And when it is over, it is a great feeling to know you did this for your baby.

Thanks for reading!!

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Last Day in Helmet!

Tomorrow is Emily’s last day in her helmet.  When we take it off to clean it tomorrow night, we ARE NOT PUTTING IT BACK ON!!  Woo hoo!  Emily’s final scan and appointment at our Children’s Hospital will be next Wednesday.  Hopefully I can get some before and after pictures from the scan to post here.  Otherwise, I will try to create some myself.  Her head looks really great.  I am happy we decided to do the helmet, because I think I would have always wondered if it would have looked “better” if I hadn’t done it.  I didn’t want to regret not doing it.  It isn’t the easiest thing to go through, but as I thought when we did this with Samantha, there are far more difficult things we COULD have gone through.

Emily will be 10 months old in 2 days.  She started crawling a few weeks ago, and this week, she has started to pick up speed!  We are still seeing her physical therapist, who is encouraging Emily to pull herself up and even climb the stairs, but Emily has only pulled up a handful of times.  She really loves to explore now that she can move around herself!  Her newfound independence is SO cute!

Stay tuned for pictures from Emily’s last day!

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