How did this happen to my beautiful baby?
We realized that my daughter had a flat head when she was a few months old. Our pediatrician noticed that she also had torticollis. We had the torticollis treated, and worked hard at home to correct the flat head on our own. After a recommendation from our pediatrician, we decided to get help. My baby was diagnosed with plagiocephaly (flat head syndrome) when she was five months old. Here are some things that I wish I had known, and some things that you might be interested in learning.
What causes plagiocephaly?
1. Positioning in the womb. Sometimes the position in which a baby is laying in the womb can cause plagiocephaly.
2. The “sleep on the back campaign. " In 1992 the American Academy of Pediatrics issued instructions for infants to be placed on their backs for sleeping to decrease SIDS. (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) This has decreased SIDS, but it has made flat head syndrome more common.
3. Torticollis. Torticollis is a condition where the baby prefers to look in one direction over another. The baby will look to that direction, and also sleep with their head facing the favored direction.
Can you prevent plagiocephaly?
1. Lots of tummy time can help prevent plagio. Any chance that you get, place your baby on their tummy. When your child is sleeping, it is recommended that they still sleep on their backs even with plagiocephaly. Off set some of those night time hours with tummy time during the day.
2. Positioning during sleep times. Try to alternate sides that you lay baby on for naps and bedtime. Now this is easier said then done, especially during the night. Just reposition your baby before you go to bed.
3. Take baby out of the infant carrier if possible. I know how tempting it is as a mom to let your baby finish that 2 hour nap in the car seat. If you remove your baby you can control which side you lay him on.
What is helmet therapy?
Your child will begin wearing a helmet band to fix the flat spot. Therapy varies depending on the severity of your baby's flat spot. My daughter wore her helmet for four months. They can get positive results from the helmet up to a year old. When you have your initial visit you will learn about how severe your baby's plagiocephaly is and learn of the recommended treatment plan. Every two weeks you will be advised to get the helmet adjusted. As your baby's head grows they will need to carve the helmet out. Listen to what your caregiver tells you. If they recommend 23 hours a day, have your baby wear the helmet 23 hours a day. Your baby will really appreciate the hour off at bath time. You will get quicker results if you follow the nurse practitioner or doctors orders.
How you and your family might be feeling, and what you can do to help.
Having your baby diagnosed with plagiocephaly can be a scary time. I began searching for books to read to our children. I searched in stores and on the internet. I was unable to find any books to read to them. We read a lot in our house, so I felt lost without a children's book on this subject.
Alison's Helmet is a realistic children's book that explains the process that our baby went through. My hope is that I can help children understand what their baby might be feeling when they get the helmet. The book outlines Alison's feelings, her treatment plan, and her positive growth and development while wearing the helmet. Children of all ages can benefit from Alison's Helmet! Adults will also enjoy reading this fun loving book.
If you need additional support as a parent you may wish to find an plagiocephaly support group.
Teri Stark is the author of Alison's Helmet, a plagiocephaly children's book. This book is designed to help children understand what there baby is feeling. You can purchase the book at http://www.helmetsforbabies.com