Chrissy Teigen has revealed her nine-month-old son Miles no longer needs to wear his corrective helmet.
such a trooper for 3 months of helmet. happy graduation, Miles!! pic.twitter.com/atOIplfHLg
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) March 14, 2019
Why do some babies need to wear a corrective helmet?
Chrissy, 33, first revealed her son needed to wear a helmet to correct his head shape back in December when he was five-months-old.
“My baby bug got his head shaping helmet today,” Chrissy captioned on the pic posted to her Instagram. “Please don’t feel bad for him if you see photos. He is a happy bug and we’re just fixing his flat.”
Emily Hayles reveals most babies who wear a helmet have a condition called plagiocephaly.
“Plagiocephay is a condition that occurs when a baby develops a flat spot on one side of their head or they have an asymmetrical head shape,” she exclusively tells The Healthy Mummy.
“The helmet is used to help the babies head to grow in a more typical, symmetrical head shape.”
What causes babies to develop a flat spot?
Emily says the majority of cases of plagiocephaly are due to the baby persistently having their head positioned one way, such as consistently lying on one side of their head, or spending a lot of time in ‘containers’ such as baby bouncers, rockers or capsules.
She says: “A baby’s skull is soft in comparison to an adult skull – which is necessary because it helps the baby to pass through the birth canal when they are born, and it also allows their head to grow at the rapid rate it needs to in the first year of life – but unfortunately that softness of their head puts babies at risk of developing a flat spot on one side of their heads if they lie or have pressure on one part of their skull for too long.”
Will the baby’s head reshape if using a helmet?
For some babies, the flattening of their skull is mild, and it only affects the back of their head, reveals Emily.
Many of these cases will improve on their own, or with just some simple therapy to help the baby to turn their head to the other side to remove the pressure off the flat spot. But for other babies that have moderate or severe head shape changes, the head shape changes can also include bulging of the forehead at the front, one ear coming forwards compared to the other, and asymmetry in their facial features such as one cheek appearing bigger.
“The use of helmets to treat plagiocephaly is usually reserved for the babies who have more severe head shape changes,” says Emily.
“The helmets are made by an orthotist who measures, scans and custom makes each helmet for each individual baby.”
The helmet works to correct the head shape in two ways:
- The helmet provides gentle counter pressure over the areas of the skull that are bulging excessively as result of the head shape changes. This helps to gradually remodel the head shape over time.
- The helmet will be made to have a space or a gap over the area of flattening which means that there is no pressure on the spot the baby usually lies on, and the skull can grow out into that gap to create a more symmetrical shape.
How long will babies typically wear a helmet for?
Some babies will wear the helmets for 23 hours per day, it is only taken off for bath time so that the baby’s head can be cleaned.
“The babies sleep in the helmets. As the baby’s head grows and changes shape, the orthotist will modify the shape of the helmet to continue to remodel the head shape until it is within the normal level of asymmetry,” says Emily.
“The length of time the baby needs to wear the helmet will vary depending on the severity of their head shape asymmetry, and also the age that they start with the helmet.”
How can you prevent your child from needing to wear a helmet?
Parents can help to prevent their baby developing a flat spot on their head by:
- Ensuring baby has their head turned to a different side each sleep. This prevents them from spending too much time on one side of their head which can cause flattening.
- Giving baby plenty of tummy time when they are awake. For typically developing babies tummy time can start from the day they are born, and can either be on Mum or Dad’s body (eg: chest or lap)or on the floor.
- Encouraging baby to do ‘face time’ – this involves making eye contact and encouraging them actively turn their head to each side. This helps them to develop neck strength and awareness of both sides, so that they are more likely to turn their head to both sides and develop good control of their heads.
However, if a parent notices that their baby prefers to turn their to one side when asleep or awake, then it is best to seek help from a children’s physiotherapist or an orthotist early.
“A children’s physiotherapist can help the baby learn to move their head to both sides which might prevent the need for a helmet, or the orthotist can start the helmet at the ideal age, which will mean the baby does not need to wear the helmet for as long to get correction of the asymmetry,” adds Emily.
“It is important to know that plagiocephaly is usually only a cosmetic condition. It is not thought to cause any impact on the baby’s developing brain. And it is also important to continue to sleep babies on their backs to decrease the risk of SIDS.”
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