Babies are, of course, adorable and delicate beings and therefore require special care and attention. Surely, you’ve seen babies wearing helmets and wondered why they’re wearing them. They’re likely engaged in helmet therapy, formally known as cranial orthosis, a method designed to treat those cute but sometimes unusually shaped baby heads. In this blog, we'll explain the reasons why babies wear helmets and the conditions these helmets treat.
Why Do Babies Need Helmets?
Babies have skulls that are quite different from adults. Their skulls are made up of flexible plates with soft spots called fontanels and ridges known as sutures. These features allow for rapid brain growth during their early years. However, over time, these cranial bones fuse together, resulting in irregular head shapes for some. To correct this and prevent potential health issues down the road, helmets are often used as an intervention.
What Does Helmet Therapy Treat?
Also known as flat head syndrome, Plagiocephaly occurs when one of the soft skull plates in a baby's head flattens. This often happens when babies spend too much time in one position, like lying on their back. While physical therapy or frequent position changes are initially recommended, if they don't do the trick, a doctor may suggest a helmet, usually for babies around 6 to 8 months old.
Craniosynostosis is a condition where a baby's cranial bones fuse prematurely. This can restrict brain growth and result in an unusual skull shape. Surgery is often required, followed by helmet therapy. Symptoms include an uneven skull, abnormal or missing fontanels, raised hard edges along closed sutures, abnormal head growth, headaches, and more.
How is Helmet Therapy Different from Other Helmets?
What sets these helmets apart from the ones you'd grab for biking or snowboarding? Well, for starters, these helmets require a prescription from a licensed physician. A certified pediatric orthotist, specializing in orthotics for children, takes measurements of the baby's head and creates a custom helmet that can be adjusted throughout the treatment process. These helmets apply gentle, consistent pressure to reshape the skull rather than offering protection from injury.
How Long Do Babies Need to Wear Helmets?
How long does a baby need to sport this headgear? About 23 hours a day, with breaks for bathing and getting dressed. The treatment typically spans around three months, but the duration varies based on the case's severity and consistent helmet usage. Doctors monitor progress and make adjustments during this period.
Is Helmet Therapy Uncomfortable for Babies?
And here's the big question – is it uncomfortable for babies? It shouldn't be. If the helmet fits well and is properly cared for, there shouldn't be any issues. Skin irritation, discomfort, and odor can arise if it's not, but doctors can make adjustments to keep things comfy. It's important to know that these helmets differ significantly from the ones you'd find in a sporting goods store – softer foam interiors and custom-made for each baby, prioritizing comfort.
Helmet Therapy is an Effective Treatment
Babies may have malleable skulls allowing for rapid brain growth, but certain positions and genetic conditions can lead to irregular head shapes. Helmet therapy steps in as an effective method to reshape those little noggins, ensuring babies can grow and develop without future health complications. If you think helmet therapy may be appropriate for your child, please consult a medical professional.
How Tabeeze Can Help Babies Who Wear Helmets
Tabeeze understands parents' challenges when their little ones require helmets for various reasons. Our innovative baby onesies are designed to make life easier for both you and your helmet-wearing baby. With unique shoulder snaps, onesies allow you to dress your baby from the bottom up, so you never have to squeeze their head through a tiny onesie again.