Babies are precious, and it can be hard when they have a medical condition that affects their development. At four weeks old, a baby’s skull is still soft enough to mold in certain areas. If a newborn has an unusual shape or flatness of the head, a cranial helmet may be used to correct this shape. A cranial helmet is used on infants who have developmental delays or other conditions that affect their brain development. The helmet takes about seven months to fit properly, but most children outgrow this condition by the time they are two years old (1).
Infants that are born with a flatter head or misshapen skull
- Infants that are born with a flatter head or misshapen skull are candidates for the cranial helmet.
- The helmet is custom-made for each child and can be decorated, but it must be worn 23 hours a day.
What causes the cranial helmet to be needed?
The cranial helmet is a special type of headgear that can be used to treat a flat spot on your infant’s head. Flat spots often occur when babies spend too long in one position, such as lying on their backs or being held in an incorrect way. They may also develop if you have a premature or low birth weight baby and they are not able to move around as much while inside the womb. When your child is born, this issue becomes more noticeable because the skull is softer and more malleable during infancy than it will become later in life. This means that you need to protect your child from any potential injuries until their skull has hardened into its final shape!
The helmet is used to help shape the child’s head.
You will want to purchase a helmet that is custom-made for the child. It will be fitted on your baby when they are four weeks old, but the correction can take up to seven months. The helmet is worn 23 hours a day and must be worn even while sleeping or bathing. Many parents find it difficult to keep their babies happy while wearing the helmet, so you may need someone else available who can play with them while they wear it.
The pediatrician will determine whether or not your child needs this type of treatment based on an examination of their head shape, as well as measurements taken from other areas of their body (such as arms and legs).
The helmet is custom-made for each child and can be decorated, but it must be worn 23 hours a day.
The helmet is custom made for each child and can be decorated, but it must be worn 23 hours a day.
Parents are also advised not to change the helmet once it’s been made. The fit needs to be precise and the helmet should sit low on your baby’s head.
The helmet is fitted at four weeks old, but the correction can take up to seven months.
The helmet is fitted at four weeks old, but the correction can take up to seven months. The helmet is custom made for each child and fitted by an orthotist. It needs to be worn all day, every day, until it’s time to remove it!
Most children will outgrow this condition.
Most children will outgrow this condition. If your child has been diagnosed with plagiocephaly and you are wondering if you should keep the helmet on their head, the answer is no. The helmet can be removed and it is not necessary for its effectiveness. However, it can still be worn if desired by the parents or caregivers. The helmet should never be left off of a child’s head because it could cause harm to their head shape and brain development.
A cranial helmet is a way to shape your baby’s skull if they develop a flat spot.
A cranial helmet is a piece of plastic that you attach to your baby’s head with an adjustable strap. It’s worn for about 23 hours every day for up to three months, starting when the baby is about 6 months old.
A cranial helmet can help shape your child’s skull by gently pushing their head forward and back over time. It works best if the flat spot isn’t too large or deep—if this is the case, your paediatrician may recommend surgery instead.
The most common type of flat spot on a baby’s head (called plagiocephaly) happens when one side of a newborn’s head grows faster than the other during pregnancy or birth because they were lying in one position while they were in utero (in other words, they didn’t move around as much). The good news is that some babies outgrow their flat spots on their own; others do better after wearing a cranial helmet for several weeks or months at home until the problem goes away completely.
A baby’s skull is not fully hardened, and its soft spots, i.e., fontanels and ridges, i.e., sutures, are still malleable, and the cranial bones have not fused. As the baby grows, their cranial sutures will begin to fuse, and the skull’s shape will not change as easily.
What Conditions Cause a Baby to Wear a Helmet?
The reason why babies wear cranial helmets is to correct the shape of their skull. Since a baby’s skull is soft, it is common to become flat when the baby lies down on its back for extended periods. However, a flat skull can also be the result of a genetic condition. The conditions that can be treated with helmet therapy are:
Also referred to as a flat head syndrome, plagiocephaly is when one side of the baby’s head has flattened out due to continuous pressure. This tends to happen to the back of the skull when the baby lies on their back for long periods. The condition is called positional plagiocephaly. It is fairly common as laying a baby on its back is the safest sleeping position per the American Academy of Paediatrics recommendations.
Since plagiocephaly doesn’t cause any impediment to the baby’s brain development, helmet therapy is usually recommended when severe deformation has not improved through other treatment methods. The Congress of Neurological Surgeons has recommended physical therapy or frequently changing the baby’s position in cases of plagiocephaly.
When a baby’s cranial bones fuse too soon, it results in a condition called craniosynostosis. Sometimes, this can be a genetic condition. Craniosynostosis can restrict brain growth as the unusual shape of the skull will limit growth.
Symptoms of this condition include unevenly shaped skull, abnormal growth of the head, a soft spot on the baby’s head, headaches, learning disabilities, vision loss, or wide or narrow eye sockets. Craniosynostosis requires surgical treatment followed by helmet therapy.
At What Age Baby Should Wear Helmet?
A baby’s skull generally begins to harden after they are 1 year old, and the helmet will become ineffective in gently shaping the skull. It is, therefore, recommended that the baby wear a cranial helmet between the age of 4-6 months. Your pediatrician will advise this treatment during the visits you make every 2 months after birth during the child’s infancy.
How Long Should a Baby Wear a Helmet?
Generally, babies wear head shaping helmets for 23 hours a day. You can remove it while bathing them or putting on their clothes. While this seems like too long a period, it is necessary because the baby’s skull will be malleable only for a short span of a few months. It is vital to complete the helmet therapy before their cranial sutures have permanently fused. Cranial helmets generally have to be worn for 3 months on average. The period may vary depending upon the seriousness of the condition. The pediatrician will frequently monitor the shape of the skull to make adjustments during the treatment as necessary.
Do Remolding Helmets Cause Discomfort?
A baby skull shape helmet is not painful; it also does not cause any discomfort. The helmet is made using soft foam and is custom-made for each child for utmost comfort. However, if it is not fitted accurately or cared for properly, it may result in foul odor and skin irritation which will cause discomfort. The doctor can make adjustments to correct the fitting of the helmet.
What Makes Cranial Remolding Helmets Different From Other Helmets?
Cranial helmets are different from other helmets because licensed physicians like certified pediatric orthotist prescribe them. They are custom-made to the measurements of the baby’s head by using a plaster mold. They can also be adjusted during the treatment as needed. The exterior of these helmets is hard, but the foam inside is soft, exerting consistent pressure on the protruding side of the head so that the flat spot can expand. They are designed explicitly for reshaping the baby’s skull and not to protect it from injury.
Softer skulls in babies facilitate easy passage through the birth canal and facilitate brain growth during the initial years of the baby’s life. However, this vulnerability can lead to unusual head shapes of the baby, which must be treated. Abnormal head shapes due to craniosynostosis can also inhibit brain development, and cranial helmets become vital to the baby’s treatment. This therapy does not cause any pain or discomfort to your child. However, you must ensure that you tend to the helmet as instructed by the pediatrician.
Having your baby wear a helmet for 23 hours a day can seem daunting. It is completely normal to have numerous questions about helmet therapy regarding the duration of the treatment or the availability of alternate forms of treatment. Here are some questions about baby flat head helmets answered:
1. What Is Helmet Therapy?
Helmet therapy is a treatment that helps hold the shape of a baby’s skull. It is also known as cranial orthosis. When a baby has a misshapen skull, either due to a genetic condition or a flat spot from constantly lying down on its back, it can be corrected using helmet therapy. The skull in babies below 1 year of age is soft and malleable, and the cranial helmet helps mold the skull to the correct shape. Helmet therapy can be necessary when the flatness in the skull shape is severe enough to inhibit brain growth and development. The two conditions in which helmet therapy is used are plagiocephaly and craniosynostosis.
2. How Long Does Helmet Therapy Takes?
Helmet therapy usually takes 3 months on average. However, it may take a longer or shorter period, depending upon the seriousness of the baby’s condition. During infancy, a visit to the pediatrician is recommended every 2 months, during which they will measure the diameter of the skull. If they find that there is a flat spot that requires correction, they will recommend helmet therapy. It is provided for babies between the age of 4 months to 1 year, but it is most effective when the baby is 4-6 months old. After the baby has crossed the age of 1, their skull begins to harden, and the helmet will not be effective.
3. Is There Any Method Other Than Helmet Therapy to Correct Baby’s Skull Shape?
Helmet therapy is only one way of treating a misshapen skull. If the cause is positional plagiocephaly, changing the baby’s position and physical therapy can help treat mild deformations in the skull. Helmet therapy becomes essential for severe cases. Some alternate treatment options are:
- Tummy time- Ensure that your baby spends some time on their tummy instead of just on their backs. This will reduce the pressure on the head. However, don’t place them on their stomach unless there is supervision. This also helps develop the neck muscles and strengthens them.
- Cuddling- You can hold your baby and relieve their back and head of the pressure exerted when lying down. Make sure to support their head while holding them. This is also a great bonding opportunity for you and your infant.
- Changing positions while Breastfeeding- Place your baby in different positions, i.e., on either side, while breastfeeding. You can also play with them or interact with them from different directions, so they avoid lying down in the same position for too long.
4. Should I Recommend a Pediatrician for Helmet Therapy?
It is necessary to obtain a recommendation from a pediatrician for helmet therapy. Licensed physicians like certified pediatric orthotist give cranial helmets. Since they are custom-made, the pediatrician will have to take the measurements of the baby’s skull with a plaster mold to make the helmet fit your baby’s skull perfectly. If there are any problems with the fitting, it can cause pain and discomfort to the baby, and a pediatrician can make adjustments to correct the same during regular visits.
We hope this article helped you understand what a cranial helmet is, why it might be needed, and how it works. If your child has been diagnosed with plagiocephaly, talk to your doctor about whether or not a cranial helmet would be the best option for treatment. The helmet is custom fitted for each child (including decorations), but must be worn 23 hours a day in order to work properly. Most children will outgrow this condition by age three or four months old.