This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice.
When Little #2 was two months old, she was diagnosed with Plageocephaly (flat head) and infant torticollis (favors turning head to one side). We were told that unless it was corrected she would need to get fitted for infant helmet therapy by six months old. I personally think those little babies in helmets are adorable, but it's not too fun for baby. We would also have to travel 2 hours every time it needed to be adjusted, so we were very interested in avoiding the helmet completely.
Lucky for us, the specialist that we went to had a daughter with the same thing and he knew of some great ways to avoid helmet therapy. With all the latest recommendations to lay babies on their back due to SIDS, plageocephaly is becoming more and more common in babies. Because of this, I thought I would pass on the recommendations that our doctor gave us.
Update: we went back at 6 months and she did not have to get a helmet. Hooray!
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Tips for Avoiding the baby Helmet
Because babies' head are still moldable when they are infants, it's best to follow these tips when they are only a couple of months old.
TUMMY TIME. Okay, so this one is definitely not our favorite. She hated tummy time. But we made sure to get a tummy time mat that works for 3 different positions and developmental stages so that we could switch things up when she got annoyed. We have owned a few tummy time mats, but this one is our favorite. We weren't going to buy it due to a limited budget, but after the doctor recommended some toys to help with tummy time, we decided it was a “medical expense.” 🙂
Avoid Long Amounts of Time on the Back. Because I also had a busy toddler when #2 was born, I would set her down more than I did with #1. Once we discovered her flattening head, we got creative about some ways to keep her upright without having to hold her 24/7. This is best done with the Bumbo (she could sit in hers by 3 months), and various baby carriers (Something like the Moby when they are infants, and just a regular carrier once they can hold their head up).
Put the crib against a boring wall and place a musical, flashing toy on the other end. After my daughter was diagnosed and as I left the doctor's office, he said…”Doctor's orders: Go straight to Babies R US and get a crib toy!” This is especially important for babies that favor turning their head to a specific side. Rather than placing a mobile in the crib which gets them to look up, place a crib toy onto the railing (preferably one with music, lights and movement), to get them to turn their head the opposite direction than they are used to. This will help stretch out the neck muscles so that they don't favor one specific direction anymore. Make sure the other side of the crib is pushed up against a boring wall so that they will naturally be enticed to look over at the toy instead.
Stretch the Neck Muscles. This tip was my favorite because our baby loved it. Our doctor had told us to hold her in a certain position (pictured below), so that her neck was being stretched anytime she was being held. He instructed us to switch off sides so that she got stretched equally in both directions.
Something we wish we had used before there was even an issue in the first place, was to use a baby noggin. My sister told me about the product, and it's for protecting baby's head shape while they are awake in their swing, bouncy seat, stroller, etc.! This is something I'm considering giving at baby showers just because so many babies are getting flat heads these days! Just make sure not to use it while they are sleeping as they could get their face stuck against the bumper or something!