It’s a common misconception that babies left to themselves for long periods of time are the ones who experience flat heads. While this can be a cause, it’s more common that a flat head is caused by stiff neck muscles. These muscles discipline an infant to move their head, causing them to sleep in the same position all the time, regardless of how often they are moved.
Helmet therapy can help keep an infant’s head round even as their skull begins to harden and close. This is an easy treatment that can be used during the infant’s growth and can be discussed with a pediatrician. While a flat head doesn’t inhibit long-term brain growth or cause major health problems, it can still be an aesthetic issue and may potentially cause developmental delays.
What Causes a Flat Head for Babies?
Today, positional plagiocephaly is the most common cause of flat head. A pediatrician will notice if your child needs helmet therapy or other treatment. Your child could be experiencing a stiff neck, leading your child to avoid moving their neck around when sleeping. This will cause deformed skull growth over time. It’s not likely this can cause brain damage, but it may give rise to developmental delays.
Wearing a helmet can be enough to alleviate this condition and avoid any short-term inhibitions of brain growth. Parents can place helmets onto a baby with the help of an orthotist to ensure that it is fitted correctly.
Does My Baby Need a Helmet for Flat Head?
As a mom or dad, you will likely see whether your babies are sleeping on their backs or not. Likewise, you can see when their heads have flattened; it’s usually fairly visible. The condition may not seem severe, and it may be either to the back or to the side. Because it usually doesn’t have long-term impacts on the brain, you might not be initially concerned. But head shape can lead to issues later on, especially in being self-conscious. Treatment for flat head is easy and will quickly show improvement.
A child with a flat spot can be taken by their parent to see a doctor who will engage in physical therapy to correct the baby’s skull. Usually, plagiocephaly doesn’t involve any true pressure, but it needs to be corrected early on.
How Long Do Babies Wear Helmets for Flat Head?
Babies will wear a flat head helmet for 23 hours a day to correct the condition, even in the car seat. The skull needs to be reshaped and to get used to that shape. Parents should be aware that helmet therapy will be a lengthy process, as it isn’t just about the position the child is in, but also correcting any issues that have already arisen. The helmet will be small enough it can fit comfortably into car seats and parents can share the duty of removing and placing the helmet. Helmets need to be in the correct position on heads to have the most benefit and the flat spot will be corrected over time.
Many moms may be hesitant to have their child wearing a helmet all the time, but the baby’s skull is not only deforming as they sleep, it’s also settling into that shape. Whether to the side or the back, the shape has to be altered over time.
What is the Cost of an Infant Helmet for Flat Head?
If you have a flat head child interested in helmet therapy, you should look at the appropriate section of your health insurance first. This type of condition is treated through a type of physical therapy and an off-the-rack helmet cannot be used, it has to be appropriately fitted. Consequently, the treatment may account for $1,000 to $3,000 or even more in costs. Those who are not in the position to pay for this may be able to get a sliding scale. While it’s not critical for brain growth, it can be critical for other reasons.
What Are Flat Head Helmet Side Effects?
Wearing a helmet shouldn’t have any significant impact on heads, apart from correcting the flat spot. They should not be worn past when recommended because the growth plates need to close. They can cause skin irritation and skin should be carefully monitored for damage. The child’s head does need to be taken out once a day.
Parents with an interest in these helmets may want to talk to other parents and share their experiences. As the child continues to age and brain growth continues, they may need multiple helmets. If the helmet isn’t properly fitted or is too heavy, it could cause issues with neck muscles. If it’s not fitted, it could also cause flat areas in other locations, such as to the side. The child will need to wear the helmet consistently as physical therapy or the shape may not be reformed. A doctor can help in cases where it seems that the flat spot is coming back.
What Can Flat Head Syndrome Cause in Babies?
No one wants to spend their Mother’s Day thinking about treatment. But it’s important to note that the shape of a child’s head is mostly aesthetic. Not all children will have problems from a flat head. There is some indication however that some may experience developmental delays, ranging from verbal to motor functions, if they have flat heads. This is confounded by the fact that flat heads can also correlate with neglect, though they definitely don’t always.
That being said, there’s an age at which plates close. Helmet therapy for a baby’s head has to be conducted early and wearing a helmet has to be consistent. Parents should find out what they need to do as soon as they notice an issue.
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Should I Go to a Doctor for Helmet Therapy?
If you think that helmet therapy could help your baby’s head, you should first see a doctor. Your doctor should look at why your baby’s neck muscles are either stiff or not developing before recommending treatment for the flat spots. Then your doctor will be able to refer you to a specialist to fix the flat areas of your baby’s skull.
What Does the American Academy of Pediatrics Say About Flat Heads?
The American Academy of Pediatrics says that flat head syndrome is not generally dangerous to infants. The skull is still malleable as a child is developing and these spots are more aesthetically worrying than major problems in an infant. But it could be that your infant will experience developmental delays related to these spots or the torticollis (neck stiffness) causing it may be significant. Positional plagiocephaly can happen for a variety of reasons which merits a visit to the doctor. Regardless, the process of treating these muscles and the spots is simple; it’s not call for anything significant like neurological surgery. Nearly all cases will resolve with care, as long as the child isn’t at an advanced age.
Are There Alternatives to Baby Helmets?
As noted, the American Academy of Pediatrics generally merits a flat head as not too worrisome especially if it’s being addressed. Apart from a baby helmet, a parent can be sure to reposition their child. A flat head will not happen unless the child is regularly sleeping in one area of their head. So, switching from the back to the side may be all the care needed to help the baby’s head and head shape.
If this treatment doesn’t work, however, the baby should be brought to a doctor by the age of 14 months. By this time, the growth will be almost complete.
When Is It Too Late for a Baby Helmet?
Ideally, you should start using a helmet to correct flat head syndrome before seven months. But a baby’s head and skull may still be able to be shaped by a helmet as late as 14 months.
Are There Different Sizes of Baby Helmet?
A baby helmet for flat head has to be sized to your child. Your child’s head will be measured carefully by a specialist and a helmet will be made in the shape of their skull, so it does not cause any undue stress.
Is a Baby Helmet Comfortable for My Baby?
Treating flathead syndrome isn’t just simple, it’s also minimally disruptive for your baby. Though it fits snug to alter skull shape, the skull isn’t under significant pressure, and a foam lining keeps everything comfy. A doctor ensures that the fit is correct and won’t inhibit growth, and the children can still sleep in any position they want.
If your infant is regularly sleeping in the same position and developing a flat skull, you should consult with a physician. It’s an easy treatment process, but it has to start early and it has to be regular in order to have the most benefits.
Disclaimer: The content on this site is for informational or educational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat any condition, and does not substitute professional medical advice or consultations with healthcare professionals. Always consult with your medical professional for diagnose and treatment recommendations before making a decision.