The trend used to be for babies to sleep on their stomachs. That way, they would not end up with a flat head in the back. Doctors recommended it. Parents followed it. As with many trends, the advice reversed. Parents should no longer lay their babies on their stomachs because it increases the chance for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, aka. SIDS. A flat head is not life threatening. So now, flat heads are back.
While flat heads are not life threatening, they do pose potential health problems for the baby’s future. Therefore, many insurance companies are now covering helmets that correct the problem. The potential problems from a flat head include problems with Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) and facial asymmetry which can lead to problems fitting glasses later on or, it is speculated, that it may be one of the reasons that there is a greater need for orthodontics. We were lucky that our pediatrician noticed that our babies could benefit from treatment.
If you are curious about plagiocephaly, here is a link to an article:
In addition to plagiocephaly, there is also brachycephaly, in which the head shape is asymmetrical. There is an increased risk for brachycephaly in multiples. Our babies were all diagnosed with plagiocephaly and Ryder was also diagnosed with brachycephaly.
To read more about this…
This could be because Ryder was squished in the womb. If you read ‘our story,’ Ryder was baby C. He went from being our smallest, most fragile baby, to currently being our biggest baby. Capri, Grayson and Xayden each had one helmet to treat their plagiocephaly while Ryder had three helmets due to the addition of brachycephaly. We feel grateful to have had the opportunity because this treatment is not available everywhere. Highly motivated parents travelled hundreds of miles a week to give their babies this opportunity.
Also, some facilities require plaster casting of the baby’s head. This is like getting a cast for a broken bone, only it is used on the baby’s head to determine head shape. I met some parents who told me their babies did not enjoy being ‘mummified.’ In our situation, they used 3D imaging which is far less invasive. The helmets came in pure white which looked very clinical.
I had fun decorating three of the babies’ helmets, while my husband enjoyed decorating Ryder’s helmet.
As you can imagine, this led to many questions when we took the babies out. Most people, we found, are not familiar with this issue and assumed that the babies had seizures or another unidentifiable special need. I remember one man asking if we put helmets on the babies to keep them warm. Another person asked if they wore them so we could remember which one was which! I imagine that they were trying to find a polite way to ask.
When it was time for each of them to graduate from the helmets, we had mixed feelings. We were so glad that the problems had been solved, and a little disappointed that they no longer had an extra cushion when they fell.