Sometimes babies are born with a misshapen skull that may become permanent. Helmet therapy, also known as helmet orthosis or helmet holding, is a procedure that molds a baby’s skull. A baby should wear a helmet from 4 months until 1 year if their cranial sutures are not fused. Sometimes, it is necessary to correct the skull’s shape to avoid future health problems.
Why do infants need helmets?
If a baby’s skull is not straight, they should wear helmets from 4 to 1 year. A pediatrician will examine a newborn’s skull and recommend helmet therapy if it is too flat. The procedure should be done between the ages of 6 and 12 months. The skull of a baby is still soft and malleable. Their cranial sutures, which will fuse as they grow, will continue to shape the skull.
What conditions can cause a baby to wear a helmet?
Cranial helmets are used to correct the skull shape. Because a baby’s skull can be soft, it is easy to flatten when the baby is lying down on its back. A genetic condition can cause flat skulls. These conditions can be treated by helmet therapy:
Plagiocephaly, also known as a flat head syndrome, is when one side or more of the baby’s head flattens due to constant pressure. When the baby is lying on their back for prolonged periods, this tends to occur to the back of their skull. This condition is known as positional plagiocephaly. This is quite common, as the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that a baby sleeps on its back.
Plagiocephaly isn’t thought to cause any impairments in the baby’s brain development. Helmet therapy is recommended for severe deformations that other treatments have not improved. According to The Congress of Neurological Surgeons, plagiocephaly cases are best treated with physical therapy and frequently changing the position of the baby.
Craniosynostosis is a condition where the cranial bones of a baby fuse too quickly. This can sometimes be a genetic condition. Craniosynostosis, which is an unusual skull shape, can limit brain growth.
This condition can cause an unevenly shaped skull, abnormal head growth, a soft spot on a baby’s head, headaches and learning disabilities. It can also lead to vision loss or wide or narrow eyes. The surgical treatment of Craniosynostosis must be followed by helmet therapy.
How Old Should a Baby Wear a Helmet?
The skull of a baby will begin to harden around the age of 1 year. This means that the helmet won’t be able to shape the skull gently. A cranial helmet is recommended for babies between the ages of 6 and 12 months. During your visits every 2 months during infancy, your pediatrician will recommend this treatment.
How long should a baby wear a helmet?
Babies wear helmets with head shaping for around 23 hours per day. It is possible to remove the helmet while washing your baby or changing their clothes. Although it may seem like too much time, the baby’s skull is only malleable for a very short period. It is important to finish the helmet therapy before the cranial sutures are permanently fused. The average time that cranial helmets must be worn is three months. The severity of the condition may affect the length of the period. To make any adjustments needed during treatment, the pediatrician will regularly monitor the shape of your skull.
Are Remolding Helmets a Cause of Discomfort
The helmet, a baby skull-shaped helmet, isn’t painful and doesn’t cause any discomfort. For maximum comfort, the helmet is made from soft foam and custom-made for each child. It can cause skin irritation and foul odor if the helmet isn’t fitted correctly. A doctor can adjust the fit of the helmet.
What makes Cranial Remolding Helmets different from other Helmets
Cranial helmets differ from other helmets in that licensed pediatric orthopedists prescribe them. A plaster mold is used to create the helmet. You can adjust them as necessary during treatment. These helmets have a hard exterior, but the foam within is soft. This allows constant pressure to be applied to the protruding sides of the head, allowing the flat spot to expand. These helmets are made to shape the skull of babies and not protect them from injury.
Baby’s with soft skulls can facilitate passage through the birth canal. This facilitates brain growth in the first years of a baby’s life. This vulnerability can cause abnormal head shapes in babies, and this must be addressed. Cranial helmets are vital for the treatment of abnormal head shapes caused by Craniosynostosis. The therapy is painless and does not cause discomfort for your child. You must make sure that your child is wearing the helmet according to instructions from the pediatrician.
It can be daunting to have your baby wear a helmet for 23+ hours per day. Parents have many questions about helmet therapy, such as the length of the treatment and the availability of other treatments. These are some frequently asked questions about baby helmets:
What is Helmet Therapy?
Helmet therapy helps to preserve the skull shape of babies. This is also called a cranial orthosis. Helmet therapy can correct a baby’s misaligned skull. This could be due to either a genetic condition or simply because it is constantly on its back. Babies below one-year-old have a soft, malleable skull. The cranial helmet molds the skull to the right shape. When the skull’s shape is too flat, helmet therapy may be required. Plagiocephaly or Craniosynostosis are two situations in which helmet therapy can be used.
How long does helmet therapy take?
On average, helmet therapy takes three months. It can take longer or shorter depending on the severity of the baby’s condition. A visit to the pediatrician every two months during infancy is recommended. They will measure the skull’s diameter. Helmet therapy will be recommended if they discover a flat spot. The helmet therapy is recommended for babies aged between 4 and 1 year. However, it is most effective when the baby’s age is between 4-6 months and 6 months. The helmet becomes ineffective after the baby reaches the age of 1.
Is there a better way to correct the shape of a baby’s skull than helmet therapy?
Helmet therapy is not the only way to correct a misaligned skull. If the problem is due to positional plagiocephaly (positional plagiocephaly), changing the baby’s posture and physical therapy may help treat mild skull deformations. For severe cases, helmet therapy is essential. There are other treatment options:
- Tummy time – Make sure your baby spends time on their stomachs and not just their backs. This will help reduce pressure on the head. If they are not supervised, you should not place them on their stomachs. This helps strengthen their neck muscles.
- Cuddling is a way to hold your baby and take away the pressure from their necks and backs when lying down. While holding your baby, make sure you support their head. This can also be a bonding moment for you and your baby.
- Change your position while breastfeeding – You can place your baby in different positions (e.g., one side or the other) while breastfeeding. Playing with your baby or interfacing with them in different directions will help avoid them laying down for too long.
Do I recommend a pediatrician for helmet therapy?
Helmet therapy requires a recommendation from your pediatrician. Certified pediatric orthotists and licensed physicians can provide cranial helmets. Because they are custom-made, a pediatrician will need to measure your baby’s skull and create a mold. A pediatrician will be able to make adjustments during regular visits if there are any issues with the fitting.