For parents worried about or dealing with their baby’s head shape
Warning – this is a long blog entry. You should read it if:
- You have ANY questions about your baby’s head shape, in the front, sides or back. You are not being OVER PROTECTIVE. You know best, and you should read on. Your pediatrician may NOT be the professional with the right answers.
- You don’t know the answers to ‘What is Plagiocephaly’ or ‘What is Torticollis’?
- Your baby is less than 4 months old because you might be able help plagiocephaly through repositioning techniques.
- If you are a DOC parent, than here’s our story. When I was doing my research it was the other parents’ stories that helped me the most…
Cheating tip: if you don’t feel like reading my sob story, skip to the end where I provide ANSWERS/RESOURCES.
The ROAD TO DIAGNOSIS
It was at Lucas’ 4 month check up when I mentioned his head shape to his doctor. I thought something was off because it was so flat in the back, but when he told me that it would be fine as Lucas spent more time on his tummy, I let it go. I told him that Lucas absolutely hated tummy time. No exaggeration, my kid would go into what I call the ‘red devil’ fit because his face and body would turn so red from crying. All we had to do was turn him over and the screaming would start. We didn’t like to upset our child so he stayed on his back. The doc said that “this would pass” as he got stronger. Stronger? He was lifting his head the day he was born. He was already trying to pull himself up using our fingers. This baby was strong and ready. Over the next two months Lucas grew by inches (woo hoo!). He did start pulling himself up early, and was doing so with our help by 5 months. He was thrilled when he was standing, but the ‘red devil’ still emerged at tummy time. I knew Lucas was fine developmentally, but my stubborn child (we’ll blame daddy, ha!) wouldn’t roll over!
At his 6 month checkup we were scheduled to see the other doctor at our practice. We barely made it in the door when she jumped up about his head shape. I got very upset, as any mother would have been. Upset because my instinct was right, because I didn’t push harder two months ago, because I didn’t know there was a real problem – or a solution. But there were answers. For the record (facts I screamed at the doctor as we talked), my child did not sit in a swing all day, or lay underneath a play gym. If anything, his full-time nanny spoiled him by carrying him around way too much! He wasn’t watching television (yet!) and we DID TRY tummy time but were guilty of giving up too soon. Lucas slept on his back as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). He actually slept on one of those breathing monitors because I was so afraid of SIDS.
When I mentioned his crying fits the doctor’s answer was a simple one: let him cry! She recommended we train him by doing 5 minutes of tummy time (play, run, jump, entertain him, but do it), three times a day. Increase it when he can handle the 5 minutes. She also made sure that his neck alignment wasn’t off (Torticollis ) and causing pain or discomfort. In her opinion, it was fine, and this was not a physical or development problem. If it was, there was physical therapy she could prescribe. So what was going on? Our little man knew that we weren’t letting him cry, and he was taking advantage of it! At six months! By the way, after 3 days of these exercises, the ‘red devil’ disappeared and Lucas started to roll over. Three days. Five days later he was sleeping on his belly. So now what? At this point the Doc believed that Lucas could be diagnosed with plagiocephaly. And she believed that the best people to diagnose him were at Cranial Technologies.
I didn’t know what she was talking about until she said, “you know, those kids that wear those helmets? That’s why they have to wear them. To reshape their heads. ” Plagiocephaly is an abnormal head shape in infants and this company has been working on the prevention and treatment since 1986. I had seen kids with the helmets before, but didn’t know why they were wearing it. I thought maybe they had to protect a cut from a surgery, or something else. Maybe a development issue that I just wasn’t aware of.
BLAME and FRUSTRATION
Prescription in hand, I came home upset and incredulous. How the hell did I miss this? If you knew me you would be shocked too. I am a research ANIMAL. I researched strollers and baby carriers for 3 months for the love of God! Why, why didn’t I come home 2 months ago and Google “baby head shape” or something like it? And why, MOST IMPORTANTLY, WHY didn’t the other doctor WARN ME that this might happen. Since when do I listen to doctors anyway? Okay, enough. You can’t change the past. Forward we go, and off to Cranial Technologies (website) we went. Babycenter.com also had some great information, and more importantly, links to other blogs from parents that had used Cranial Technologies.
Most of the information I SHOULD HAVE HAD when Lucas was 4 months old (or sooner) was on CranialTech.com. Really great, useful information that could possibly have stopped the need for this helmet.
1. TUMMY TIME IS IMPORTANT because without it, your baby could get Plagiocephaly. Here is a GREAT BROCHURE that explains why.
2. Before 4 months, parents can try repositioning techniques. Tips for repositioning.
3. Don’t leave this to guess-work. Cranial Technologies will give you a very through and wonderfully free evaluation.
4. Here are pictures of different baby head shapes. See if they seem familiar.
After our appointment with Cranial, Lucas was diagnosed with moderate Brachycephaly. The technician said it might somewhat correct itself now that Lucas was starting to sleep on his side and belly. But there were no guarantees. After a certain age, it would be too late to correct it. I’ll tell you more about what we decided (I am sure you already know where that is going), what other options we found, and what factors led to our decision. I just really wanted to get this information out there for other parents.
For parents considering the DOC band, let me know if you want to hear about Lucas’ first few days with it (not as easy as they tell ya, but not that bad either). Happy to pull that from his journal for you. You can follow the rest of our story under the category “Baby Head Shape”. If I ever figure out the menu system on WordPress I’ll add a page just for this topic. More soon and good luck. Hope this was helpful.