Have you ever been out and about, noticed a baby sporting headgear, and wonder why babies have to wear helmets? No, it’s not a trendy fashion statement, and no, their parents aren’t being overly-cautious.This baby was most likely wearing a helmet as part of something called Helmet Molding Therapy — a fairly common treatment for babies who’ve developed flat spots on their head.
According to BabyCenter, babies are born with soft skulls that haven’t fully hardened to allow for passage through the birth canal and for the rapid growth that takes place in their brain. Because of this, Kids Health notes that many babies develop a condition known as positional plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, in which their head becomes flattened on one side.
The Seattle Children’s Hospital notes that positional plagiocephaly can be caused by several things, such a premature birth or delayed development, but it is most often the result of the baby’s sleeping position. Most babies are laid on their backs to sleep (as recommended to reduce risk of SIDS), but the baby can often develop plagiocephaly if they aren’t turning their heads often during sleep.
Though this isn’t a dangerous condition, and can usually be corrected either on its own or through the use of a helmet, there are several things parents can do to be proactive in reducing their child’s risk for flat head syndrome.
1. Allow Plenty Of Tummy Time
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons suggests allowing your child plenty of supervised tummy time, which helps them build strong back, arm, and neck muscles and alleviate pressure from their heads.
2. Change Sleep Directions
The AANS also recommends changing the direction your baby faces in their crib every so often- this will cause them to change the way they turn their heads when looking at the door or lights. They also suggest moving the crib around in the room periodically for this same reason.
3. Avoid Unnecessary Time In Car Seats and Swings
When in the car seat, swing or bouncer, your baby’s movement is restricted. Limiting play in bouncers and swings and saving the car seat for drives only will give your baby more opportunities to move his head around as well as avoid other risks.
4. Get Plenty Of Cuddle Time
Family Education notes that holding your baby in different positions helps them build their muscles as well as strengthen the bond between parent and child.
5. Change Head Position During Feedings
Whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding, Babble notes that there are multiple ways you can hold your baby to mix things up during feedings.
As with all medical issues, you should consult with a doctor before attempting any risk-reducing tips on your own. After all, they are the experts.