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Helmet for flat head? Need advice, please!

I posted this on Ryan's birth month board, but thought some of the moms over here might have had to deal with this.

Since the new SIDS info came out in the 90s, doctors are seeing tons more cases of head flatness, due to being on their backs so much. Ryan has what I would consider to be a mild flattening all over (you can notice it in profile pictures) and he has a slightly more sloping in of a flatness on the back right side of his head (the left side is more rounded) because he favors that side for whatever reason.

The pediatrician basically says it's mild and that we should talk with the helmet people and decide, that he doesn't have a strong opinion. We met with the helmet people this morning and, of course, they say we should do it. They clearly are biased because they're selling a product.

They showed us a bunch of before and after pictures, and they were all more severe cases than Ryan. But this kind of assymetry CAN cause certain issues down the line because the bones and everything grow slightly out of line (so it can cause TMJ, deviated septums, etc). 

Each band is $3800 and some babies need more than one because they are fitted to the head as the corrections take effect. We're currently researching whether insurance will cover it, but likely it won't because many consider it to be a cosmetic procedure.

I don't feel like I can get an unbiased opinion from the helmet people and my ped isn't being particularly helpful. We need ot make the decision soon becuase if we're going to do it, it really needs to be done now before his growth really slows down. The longer we wait, the longer he would have to wear it and the less effective the treatment will be. 

Other considerations:

The helmet is very lightweight. But he has to wear it 23 hours of the day for probably 10-12 weeks. 

It can cause heat rashes, which Ryan is already prone to and gets regularly. Plus, it's heating up already. We're going to hit 96 degrees on Saturday! So I hate to do this to him in the heat, but by the time it cools it, it will be too late to do it.

But I don't want him to look abnormal and I would hate for him to develop jaw issues or something down the road just because I didn't want to spend the money. On the other hand, $3,800 is a LOT of money, and that's a lot to waste if it's not necessary.

Any one have any feedback or advice? Anyone do this? Anyone research it and decide not to do it? 

Thanks so much. Sorry this was so long. I'm sort of obsessing about it at the moment. ;)

Re: Helmet for flat head? Need advice, please!

  • We were told the same thing...Blake had a mild case as well, and the pediatrician suggested that we meet with the helmet people. I had noticed it for awhile, but honestly didn't think it was to bad, but once they pointed it out to DH, he freaked out. He was the one obsessing about it. Like Ryan, Blake favored one side, and it made his head more flat there. But once he started rolling around a lot more, it evened itself out, and looks just fine. It's a tough call, and you have to do what you think is best, but in our case I am glad we waited it out.
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  • Thanks, Candice. I've been reading a lot of comments online about people like you who waited and the heads rounded out on their own. The helmet people freak you out because they say that the longer you wait, the less effective the thing will be. So it makes you feel like you have to do it NOW. We noticed the problem when he was about 3-4 months, so we've been trying to reposition him to put more pressure on the other side since then. I do think it has gotten a little better, but it's still noticeable. Right now, I think my gut is telling me to wait. Thanks for the help!
  • Now, if we had a more severe case, I would have definately done the helmet, but since it was mild, I went with my gut. Wink

    Does he roll around at night yet in bed?

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  • Well, he scoots himself around. We often find him shifted over 90 degrees from where we put him down. One time we found him sleeping on his side. But he's not rolling a ton yet (he'll roll to one side to get a toy and then rolls back).
  • Blake was the same! Late to roll, late to sit, late to crawl, walk..(Although he will talk your ear off about his favorite word "doggy")....But once he really started rolling around at night, is when it got a lot better! Big Smile

     

     

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  • Ok, that makes me feel a lot better. I keep looking at his pictures and the flatness seems so mild compared to all the "before and after" babies they were showing us. It seems like such an extreme measure for such a mild flatness.
  • I'm sorry you are going through this. Here are my thoughts, can you let him sleep on his tummy, or get a sleep positioner and let him sleep on the other side?

     Do you think there is a chance he might have torticollis.

    Do you have any pictures of the flatness? That would help me give you more advice.

    I agree I think most times the DocBand people are going to say you need it, if it is moderate I would do it especially since he is young and could be out soon. If it is mild I'd take every precaution I could and check again in a month or so.

    If it were me and it was mild I'd just monitor and do everything we could to make sure we didn't have to get it. 

    Don't put him in a bouncer, try not to let him lay on his back any other time of the day, even a stroller anything that puts pressure there.

    GL and keep us updated

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  • imageCTri17:

    I'm sorry you are going through this. Here are my thoughts, can you let him sleep on his tummy, or get a sleep positioner and let him sleep on the other side?

     Do you think there is a chance he might have torticollis.

    Do you have any pictures of the flatness? That would help me give you more advice.

    I agree I think most times the DocBand people are going to say you need it, if it is moderate I would do it especially since he is young and could be out soon. If it is mild I'd take every precaution I could and check again in a month or so.

    If it were me and it was mild I'd just monitor and do everything we could to make sure we didn't have to get it. 

    Don't put him in a bouncer, try not to let him lay on his back any other time of the day, even a stroller anything that puts pressure there.

    GL and keep us updated

    We don't believe he has torticollis.

    I worry that having him in daycare isn't helping. I mean, we tell them to keep him off his back as much as possible, and they say they do, but there's no way to really KNOW that they are. 

    Here are some pictures that the helmut people took today. Do you think this is mild or moderate? imageimage

    I'm afraid to let him sleep on his tummy because of SIDS. He is starting to roll a bit, but I'm not confident enough in his strength to start that yet. And I remember reading that sleep positioners were a suffocation risk, too... or do you think he's old enough now that it's no longer a risk?

    Thanks for your help!

  • omg those pictures don't look bad at all. just do what other's said and keep him off his back as much as possible, as much tummy time, jumperoo, etc as possible.i'm pretty sure dominic's head was like that, or worse and the pedi never had any concerns with it. those helmet people really know how to strike fear into new mom's!

    once they can roll on their own, let them sleep on their tummy. there's nothing you can do at that point anyway since they start rolling all over the place at night. if you're still swaddling him for sleeping, i would probably stop. but i wouldn't necessarily lay him on his stomach to sleep until he can do it on his own. i stopped using a sleep positioner with dominic very early on. just used it in the beginning when he really didn't move to alternate sides to try and avoid the flat head

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  • megan fromwhat I see and I am by no means an expert I'd say he's on the cusp.

    I'd give it some time and see if you can get him to sleep on his side that's why I suggested the sleep positioner. At this point he is strong enough to move away from something in his sleep anyway. We had to put L in one because of her reflux so it helped when she slept on her side.

    I'd tell daycare that this is a really big issue and he CAN not be on his back, get the doc to write you a note. Then drop in every once in a while (or DH) if you can and see where he is what he is doing.

    Lots and lots of tummy time as well, GL!

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  • i like the spying on daycare idea!Yes

     

    i was trying to find some good pics of dominic to show you his head, but now that i think about it, by 6 months it had rounded out. i still wouldn't stress toooo much about it, and just work with what you can for right now

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  • Ok, thanks for your thoughts, ladies. We're going to study the pictures some more, talk to my ped again and go from there. I appreciate your help!
  • I am going through this now with my 7 month old daughter. We got the helmet after a neurosurgeon said her case was severe. It didn't look that bad to me. He said if we do nothing it will get better, but we will see some more improvement with the helmet. I felt we should do it since she may be upset when she is older if she looks different. The company who made it could never get it right. Sometimes it was squishing her eyes and causes folds on her eyelinds and under her eyes. When she would roll on her side she would cry. We never made it for  more than a few hours and it made her a sweaty mess. She was wearing summer clothes in the winter. I took her every two weeks to get measured and without wearing it the orthotist said she was halfway where he expected her to be at this point. Now that I am doing more research the studies have shown only a slight improvement with helmets. (You can google studies that were done in Ireland and the UK. I have not found any US studies). We are out $2400 now and we feel the company just couldn't get the fit right and we are considering taking them to small claims court. They company told us that it would be like wearing another piece of clothing. How can that be? It's a hard plastic helmet. My husband didn't want to do it, but wnet along with me b/c I was so upset when the doctor said it was severe. I wish I had listened to my husband. It has been a terrible and expensive lesson.
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