Babies and head-shaping helmets - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just saw another baby in a helmet today. Whenever I see one, I can't help but feel a bit judgemental towards the parents for, what I perceive to be, something they likely had control over. Aren't those helmets used because baby has spent too much time lying down on a semi-hard surface?

Has anyone that followed AP'ing had a baby need one? Are there other reasons to wear one besides flattened heads?

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#2 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 02:16 PM
 
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I have known two kids that have needed these. One was a friend's foster daughter that spent probably 90% of her first 7 months in a carseat. The other was the son of a girl I know who later found out that her daycare was leaving her son in his carseat all day at the center. I'm sure that there are cases that are not neglect related, but these are the only two I have personal knowledge of.

I have heard that some babies have such large fontanaels (sp?-softspots) that their heads are easily misshapen by normal life. Also some conditions may cause a baby to need one...epilepsy, hydrocephalis, etc
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#3 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 02:17 PM
 
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Wow. That is very judgemental and also dead wrong.

Sometimes the plates of the skull fuse prematurely. This causes the brain to expand the skull in the opposite direction (i.e., the path of least resistance) instead of the baby developing a normally shaped, round head. There's nothing being AP can do to prevent it. There are NUMEROUS other examples of why a child would need to wear a helmet for reasons other than bad parenting : and if you're interested I'd be happy to PM you. But I think perhaps you should re-evaluate why you are getting annoyed by a child with special needs.
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#4 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 02:20 PM
 
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That is really judgemental. Sophie was slung and in arms 90% of the day as a newborn. When she slept in our bed she was usually on her side. Yet despite the APness she has a mishapen skull. Her ped watched it and the helmet was brought up but fortunately it wasn't needed after all. I really think you just need to raise your babies the best that you can and stop judging and worrying about what others are doing.
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#5 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 02:31 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Periwinkle
Wow. That is very judgemental and also dead wrong.

Sometimes the plates of the skull fuse prematurely. This causes the brain to expand the skull in the opposite direction (i.e., the path of least resistance) instead of the baby developing a normally shaped, round head. There's nothing being AP can do to prevent it. There are NUMEROUS other examples of why a child would need to wear a helmet for reasons other than bad parenting : and if you're interested I'd be happy to PM you. But I think perhaps you should re-evaluate why you are getting annoyed by a child with special needs.
I think maybe she was asking to learn, not to be judgmental. She was just stating that she found herself being judgmental, which I'm sure all of us have done at one time or another. The only way to learn is to ask, sometimes, and we shouldn't jump on someone for trying to expand their understanding.
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#6 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 02:34 PM
 
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Wow, it had never occurred to me that the parents might be at fault for the child's head development.

I have a friend who has three children. I'm not sure if she would describe herself as AP, but she's certainly not a neglectful parent. Her first son required a helmet. Her second/third children are identical twins - one required the helmet, the other did not. I somehow do not think that she's APing one twin and not the other.

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#7 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 02:37 PM
 
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Moving this to Parenting Issues...
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#8 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 02:40 PM
 
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My sil's dd *almost* needed a helmet. It's certainly not due to a non AP situation.
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#9 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 02:41 PM
 
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Preemies and multiples are more succesptible to placiocephaly (flattened head) than term infants as well. My DS was born 6 weeks early (though healthy! ) and had slight flattening when he was pretty young. He also had reflux, so he slept in a semi-upright position (swing, car seat, or amby hammock) until he was 6 months old. We did some repositioning (making sure he wasn't on the flat spot), and now you can't even tell there was flattening at all. We carried him everywhere too, it just happened (his skull was softer than a term infant's). A lot of people will choose helmets instead of repositioning though because it's constant work to make sure babe isn't laying on the flat spot. Most kids will outgrow it and self-correct, but many don't want to take the chance so they get a helmet.

Sometimes it's neglect, and sometimes it's circumstance. You can't always tell. The moms with babes in helmets are already feeling awful about it....so please don't give them dirty looks (I used to belong to a inernet group of parents of plagio kids). Have some compassion...I mean the babe is human too, and can see your facial expression.
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#10 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 02:49 PM
 
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Both of my kids have funny shaped heads. Both are AP babies.

Abi developed a very flat head in the back. I'm not sure why since she spent a lot of time in the sling with full control over her head, not having it rest on anything.

All I can think is for the first 6 mos. of her life she had reflux and I often sat her in the carseat carrier to let her settle for 30 mins. after eating. She slept in it at night sometimes, too, for the same reason. But even after we stopped doing that she had a flat head. I think because parents are told to put their babies to sleep on their backs, we are seeing more flat heads. I dutifully put Abi on her side but she always rolled to the back again, even with the positioner.

She narrowly avoided the helmet. She would have gotten one if the flat back was affecting the shape of the front of her head. Even at age 4, if I am standing over her rinsing shampoo off her head I can see that it's still very flat in the back.

Nitara had torticollis at birth (her neck tendons/muscles were pulling her head to the right) and she always rested her head on that side in the carseat, sling and in bed. She developed a flat spot on that side of her head. It was corrected with exercises by 3 mos. old but at 11 mos. she still has a flat spot. It's not that obvious so no helmet for her.

I ran into a baby at CostCo the other day who was wearing one. She was special needs and I got to talking to the grandma since Nitara is also special needs. That girl had something wrong with her eyelids at birth so she couldn't open them well. She was always tilting her head back to see things better and that's how her head got flat, before the surgery to correct her eyelids.

I used to judge a lot, with many things, until it happened to me.

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#11 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 02:57 PM
 
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Yes there are many reasons for needing the helmet other than being left alone all day. I met a baby who needed a helmet because he had a shortened neck muscle which changed the shape of his head.
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#12 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 03:00 PM
 
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Thanks for starting this topic. I just recently heard that a friends baby (about 6 mo's old now) is going to need a helmet.... she was a preemie (about 4 weeks early). I was wondering about how common this was.
Has anyone ever tried CranioSacral therapy for this? It seems like it would be a perfect alternative/adjunctive therapy.
I personally haven't ever seen a baby with a helmet. I have heard of it, but assumed it was something that was no longer done. Thanks for the info!

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#13 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 03:07 PM
 
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My friend's son had to wear one.He's a triplet,and it had something to do with how he was positioned inside.He wore it for a while,but he's now almost 18 months and you can't even tell.In some instances it can be due to poor parenting,but I'm sure in most it is not.I felt bad for the baby,he used to sweat and get horrible rashes,no matter what they did for him.I think they tried repositioning him,but it was too much with the other babies and their older son,plus it may not have worked.

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#14 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 03:08 PM
 
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JoAida, an unloaded question would be "What are baby helmets for?" as opposed to the much more loaded...

Quote:
Whenever I see one, I can't help but feel a bit judgemental towards the parents for, what I perceive to be, something they likely had control over. Aren't those helmets used because baby has spent too much time lying down on a semi-hard surface?
which is filled with judgement and "mainstream vs. AP" undertones, which is what I and some others have reacted to.

I'm all for learning, but when a question is asked as loaded as that, IMO the judgement itself needs addressing, not just answering the question.

I'm glad everyone else has come forward to put the kabash on the idea that it has something to do with not being AP.
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#15 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 03:36 PM
 
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I don't think it's fair to assume that a baby with plagiocephaly got that way due to being left lying on its back all the time. That may be true in some cases, but certainly not all. And I agree with the pp who said that the parents probably feel pretty self-conscious about their helmet-wearing babies as it is.

The only time I was ever judgmental about a baby helmet was when a friend of mine refused to have her son wear one because she was afraid of what others would think. The doc didn't insist on it, but the child really should have worn one. he always slept with his head to one side and as a result the shape of his head became sort of off-center, with one ear slightly in front of the other and his face sort of skewed to one side. It improved a bit on its own as he got older, but I thought it was pretty irresponsible and selfish of this friend to make that kind of decision for her son.
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#16 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 03:43 PM
 
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Hoo boy, that post doesn't really go with my siggy, does it... :
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#17 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 04:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The reason I phrased the OP the way that I did is because that *was* my immediate reaction. I indicated that it was my perception of the situation and I was attempting to explore the reasons why I did feel that way. Do others feel this way about the babies in helmets? ...if so, why or why not?

Thanks to those who have replied, as I appreciate the input and have expanded my knowledge.

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#18 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 04:41 PM
 
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OK I had no idea that they made helmets to shape babies' heads. And upon reading these posts, I can't help but feel a little bit, um, insecure as a mom I guess. My daughter has a pretty big head for her age. And it's flat in the back. I didn't learn about AP until she was about 4 months, but I didn't leave her laying in a carseat or on the floor for 4 months straight either. I thought that laying her on her back to sleep was the only thing you were supposed to do.... by the time I thought her head was getting a little flat in the back and that maybe it would be ok for her to nap on her tummy every once in a while, she'd have none of it. Soooo..... could I be a bad parent for NOT putting my baby in a helmet? When you look at her from the front her head is very wide... and so I wonder is the flattening of the back of her head sort of pushing the sides out making her face appear wider?

Are there health reasons to put your baby in a helmet in cases like mine, or is it mostly for appearances?

And to the original poster..... I don't blame you at all for asking what you did. I don't care what anyone says.... subconciously we all do a little judging. What some people need to learn to do is then step back and say to ourseves "well maybe I don't know his/her whole story..." and be more accepting of that person. Good for you for asking, so that you could learn and no longer be ignorant about it.

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#19 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 04:56 PM
 
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AGrace584, you're definitely not a bad parent for not using a helmet! Most babies get a little flattening due to sleeping on their backs, but some babies' heads become seriously distorted and then a helmet may be the remedy. You can ask your pediatrician his/her opinion.

By the way, don't put your four-month-old on her tummy to nap. Babies who sleep on their tummies are more susceptible to SIDS, especially those who normally sleep on their backs and occasionally go onto their tummies. Really. A lot of babies who die of SIDS are back-sleeping babies who are put on their tummies by caregivers other than the parents. I don't want to freak you out, just wanted to inform.

Just let your baby have a lot of tummy time during the day on the floor, and make sure she doesn't spend a lot of her awake time with her head resting against a hard surface.
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#20 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 07:01 PM
 
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My dd (almost 10 months old) has only been in the car seat while riding in the car and has slept on her tummy : since she was 5 months old or so. Her head looks, and even feels, nice and round to me, but at the pedi visit last week, he remarked that the back of her head was a little flat! Clearly, her situation is not one that woud necessitate, or even benefit much from, a helmet, but it does show that even a baby who hasn't really ever been left on her back can have a flattened head.
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#21 of 50 Old 01-13-2005, 08:42 PM
 
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There is a young boy in my ex's family that wears a helmet. He is 2, I believe. I don't know if he still wears it but he was wearing one because his mom and dad took the "back to sleep" a little too far. He was ALWAYS on his back. No tummy time during the day, ect. If he wasn't being held he was laying on his back. Because of this he couldn't hold his head up until he was about 6-7 months old, couldn't crawl until close to 14, didn't walk until just recently (a little over 2 years old). They are not "bad" parents- they were just over cautious.

ETA- they also heard so much about SIDS and feared it so much that anytime they found the baby rolled over (day or night) they would roll him back to his back.

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#22 of 50 Old 01-14-2005, 03:23 PM
 
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A little girl (about 10-11 months) in ds' daycare just got a helmet. Apparently, she was born with weaker neck muscles on one side so her head always listed to the right. Poor thing has to wear the helmet for at least 5 months.

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#23 of 50 Old 01-14-2005, 03:58 PM
 
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My dd wore a helmet from 7 to 9 months of age. We had to fight hard to get the correct helmet for her. After all of that fighting and stress I am truly surprised that any parent would judge me as neglectful.

Our neurosurgeon said that he doesn't know for sure why some babies need helmets while others don't.

Here are my guesses for why dd needed a helmet; DD crowned for 4.5 hours and was born with a large conehead. I put her on her back to sleep. She was very heavy and therefore sat-up later than usual. DD hated to lie on her stomach.

Now, ds (#2) was born with a perfect little head, sat-up early and loved to lie on his belly. He didn't need a helmet.

When you are looking at a baby who is wearing a helmet, please think of what a tough decision it must have been for the parents. Think of the hours of head molding the poor baby went through. Think of all of the stares and comments that family must get. And please don't assume the parents are neglectful.
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#24 of 50 Old 01-14-2005, 04:18 PM
 
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If I saw a baby in a helmet, I'd assume there was some medical reason for it.

I "know" two families online who's babies had/have helmets. One of these babies has hemophilia and needs the helmet to protect her head from "normal toddler falls." She spent her first birthday in the hospital because of a brain bleed from falling without her helmet on.

The other baby needed a helmet for a few months to regulate his head shape- the mom is VERY attached to her kids and I recall what she went through- drs insisting her kid was "fine" and her KNOWING something wasn't- then debating whether or not to fill the prescription for the helmet. It was most definitely NOT a casual decision and her kids are in no way neglected!!

I think you're seeing more babies with helmets because there's more awareness of them- there's a limited window in which a helmet can reshape a baby's head- so a lot of parents are opting to get a helmet rather than "wait and see" until it's too late for the helmet to have any effect (and most DO have a "wait and see" period first, it just can't last indefinitely.)

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#25 of 50 Old 01-15-2005, 06:59 AM
 
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My dh's half sister had a pretty noticeably lopsided head shape as a baby. They decided to use a hemet and I'm sure it was difficult to have people staring and judging them. It did help her head to reshape to a normal shape that I am sure she will be grateful for as she grows up.
I don't know what the causes were... but I don't think it was neglect.

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#26 of 50 Old 01-17-2005, 02:33 AM
 
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I used to know a little girl who had to wear a helmet because her skull was too soft and a knock to the head that would be no big deal to another child could seriously hurt or kill her.
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#27 of 50 Old 01-17-2005, 11:14 AM
 
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Yup, there are other reasons. I admit that I used to feel judgemental about that, too.

That is, until I had my second baby, who had surgery when she was eight days old for twisted intestines. She had another birth defect too, that caused her to choke so badly that she would stop breathing. The solution was that she had to rest upright in the side lying position. Yes, she was usually in my arms, held carefully in position, except when napping or asleep at night.

So, it was a big lesson to me. She had to go to see a pediatric neurologist recently, and one of my concerns was about the shape of her head, which appears to me to be slightly flatter on the sides than on the front.

The neurologist said that Rosie did not have the flat head problem, but that it was common in babies who had to have surgery or who had other severe medical problems as infants.

That opened my eyes -- what I had assumed to be a sign of parental neglect may have had something to do with a medical condition requiring a baby to lie on its side. Or it may have to do with something else entirely.

Then I wondered why I was so judgemental in the first place.
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#28 of 50 Old 01-18-2005, 06:46 AM
 
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My son wore a helmet for a few months. They thought his skull bones were fused together causing the misshaping, and he might need surgery on his skull, so you can believe I was very happy when they said his bones were ok but he would need a helmet.

He slept on his back and prefered to turn his head to one side. I gave him tummy time, held him a lot, ect but sometimes their heads just don't turn out round. It was getting to the point where it was actuallly distorting his facial features. Sure we could have tried repositioning and other things and MAYBE he would have been fine, but all it took was two months in a helmet and he has a perfectly shaped head.

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#29 of 50 Old 05-03-2005, 01:57 PM
 
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People have touched on many things here and I just thought I would break it down in one post.

The majority of babies in helmets are due to positional plagiocephaly. That is the head is misshapen due to the position the baby lies in...mostly it is during infancy, but sometimes it is in utero. I met a very nice, AP, organic mama whose son was in birthing position fron 26 weeks on and had a malformed head due to it. He wore a helmet.

I met a mom who followed the back to sleep advice and had a helmet for her her son, who had been premature. I don't think she was at all AP, and got the impression the child spent a large portion of his time in a swing, a carseat, etc.

My own son will be wearing a helmet, starting at the end of this month. He will be in it for ONE YEAR !! He, however, has a different, more serious, reason. He has something called craniosynostosis, which is the premature fusion of one or more joints in the skull, causing the head to become misshapen, getting progressively worse with age. There is no known cause, though about 2% of cases are thought to be genetic. (Which ours probably is. DH's bro has symptoms.) Cranio requires surgery to remove the fused 'suture' (joint) so that the skull can grow normally. A great link for information is here: www.craniosynostosis.net To see photos of my son, click on this: www.secureflight.com/jett.html Jett's never been in a baby bucket, is slung the cast majority of the time and in-arms the rest. He's rarely even down for 'tummy time' or anything much...he just doesn't like it.

DarkHorseMama, I totally see where you would feel judgemental about this, and in a majority of cases, your judgement may be right. Just don't say anything unless you know. (Not that you would!)

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Worried about your baby's head shape? PM me for craniosynostosis info!
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#30 of 50 Old 05-03-2005, 09:20 PM
 
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Past VNE hugs to you. I did so much research on craniosynostosis when they thought our son might have it. The xrays made it look as if he did but the CAT scan ruled it out. It was very difficult to imagine the surgery being done. I hope everything goes well for you guys.

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