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Does My Baby requires a Helmet? Understanding Positional Plagiocephaly

Parents naturally start to worry if a flat spot began forming on the back of your baby’s head. It can be scary not knowing if it will go away. When your baby has a large flat spot on their skull, it’s most often a result of birth — your baby’s skull may have become unevenly shaped while passing through the birth canal — or because they regularly lay flat on their back or if they have tight neck muscles on one side known as torticollis.

When does my baby need a helmet?

The shape of your baby’s head usually won’t cause brain damage or other developmental issues. In fact, most insurances and doctors consider a flat spot to be a cosmetic problem. If your baby has a large flat spot that isn’t getting better by about 6 months of age then the helmet might be beneficial as well as pediatric osteopathy or physiotherapy. For a helmet to be effective, treatment should begin between 4 and 6 months of age. This will allow for the helmet to gently shape your baby’s skull as they grow. Treatment is generally considered ineffective after age of one because the skull has started to fuse together.

What does wearing a helmet involve?

Correcting positional plagiocephaly with a helmet is not easy. You need to keep the helmet on your baby for 23 hours a day during treatment. Most of the time, helmets are worn for several months. Your child’s helmet will have to be adjusted regularly, sometime weekly, to keep up with their growth and changing head shape. Because insurance or NHS doesn’t cover a helmet, it can be expensive to purchase and adjust a helmet regularly.

Other treatment options for positional plagiocephaly:

These techniques can help you reposition your baby and give their skull the opportunity to correct flat spots on their own:

  • Make tummy time a priority. Under supervision to strengthen their back and neck muscles.

  • Cuddle. Holding your baby correctly to avoid pressure on the head.

  • Change things up. Try placing your baby in positions that will force him to turn away from the flat spot on his head. Breastfeed from both sides.

In most cases, your baby’s head shape will resolve on its own or with the help of osteopathy or physiotherapy. Given time and a little effort, your baby’s head will grow and return to normal as they begin moving and doing more. Wearing a helmet is also a good way to correct large malformation or flat spots on your baby’s head.

Videos to help:

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