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Road to our Baby’s Round Head – DOC Band Decorating

8 Sep

While some parents find it absolutely adorable to keep the DOC Band Helmet a blank canvas, I knew I was going to have fun decorating it. We waited until his second appointment (3 weeks) to make sure that there would be no major changes. While I waited I recruited the help of my brilliant neighbor/graphic designer to help me think of some ideas.

I decided I didn’t want to go too ‘baby’. Our little guy is a bit on the rough side, and we wanted something that fit his personality. I remembered that his papa told me that he was nicknamed “Shine-a-saurus” in high school because of his size, and that gave me an idea. We would create a “Lucas-a-saurus” helmet. I also decided on black and white because I was afraid too many colors would be difficult to match with outfits. Yes, I know – I’m nuts. I was also afraid to paint the helmet because (a) what if I got sick of the color and (b) I’m not crafty and would mess it up.

A Shorter Route to Decorating your DOC Helmet

Before you read all this and think that you just don’t have the time, let me give you the quick option. Go to Michael’s or similar and find any rub-on transfers. They have amazing pre-fabricated designs that you can play with. One baby at Cranial Tech had these on his helmet and they looked amazing! It will save you A LOT OF WORK. I just didn’t find anything that I loved, and decided to go with a custom design. I would still recommend the mod podge final steps below if you go this way.

Not including the ink, I spent about $20 on the supplies. We bought all of our supplies at Pearl Art Center near the Cranial Technologies offices in Paramus so that I didn’t have to pay for shipping. These links are meant to show you the exact products we used. We used (1) Inkjet printer (2) Grafix Rub-onz Film & Adhesive Film print at home transfer paper (3) Scissors (4) Mod podge (4) Foam paint-brushes

Decorating the DOC Band Helmet:

1. Search Google Images for ideas. We searched for ‘cute dinosaurs’ and ‘cute dinosaur stickers’. Finally found images I wanted on a paid site, but had access through my designer friend. There are tons of free resources out there, including free coloring pages that you download, crop and save.

2. Download and save the images to your computer at the highest resolution possible (sometimes you don’t have a choice on the resolution, but most download in a very acceptable size). Recommend you create one folder to save all the pictures in. It will make it easier for printing later.

3. Open the pictures using Microsoft Office Picture Manager. I find this has the best printing options for me, but Picasa or similar programs may work for you.

***Make sure that you select ‘mirror’ printing in your print options so that letters and “humps” go in the direction that you planned out. I made that mistake – – cost me a sheet of the Grafix paper.***

***First print on plain paper, cut the images and plan your layout.***

4. Select the images that you want to print the same size. To get the size effect we got for the dinosaurs, print in “wallet size”.

5. Select the smaller sized images that you want to print. To get the size effect that we got for the dino prints, select “contact sheet”. You can select the number of times that you want the image to print. I printed 15 prints.

6. To print your baby’s name, find a font treatment that you like. Search for free fonts online. Download and install the fonts you like, and ‘write’ the name in MS Word (or similar). Print the name in different font sizes. Our “Lucas-a-saurus” was about a 14 point font.

7. Once you are ready to print on the Grafix paper, cut the images but NOT TOO CLOSE to the edge. Those are the instructions that come with the Grafix paper. I made that mistake and had to reprint a bunch of them. That was lost sheet #2!

8. Follow the instructions carefully for how transfering the images. Remember step 6! Don’t go to step 9 for at least two hours.

***warning: I am NOT crafty and it took me two dumb tried to get the transfer to work. If you haven’t done this before, test it on something else. I used ruined sheet #2 to test this process!

9. Once you are finished, lightly brush on the mod podge. It may look like it isn’t going to be clear, but it really does dry clear. I put the helmet in front of a fan, and let it dry for an hour. I repeated this process again the next day, and did two coats.

***I should do another coat. I can see that the mod podge is starting to wear down, but I plan to replace the design at some point for Halloween, so I’m not going to bother.***

CT would probably yell at me, but I did end up keeping the helmet off for more than an hour, probably closer to 2 1/2, the night I decorated it. I wanted to make sure everything was SUPER dry before Lucas got his little hands on it. Though none of these items are toxic, better safe than sorry. Besides, this was a lot of work.

So I hope this was helpful. Though I’m not crafty, I am pretty good with printing, cropping, etc. so if you need any help at all, follow the blog and leave me a comment. I will gladly help out a fellow “helmet head’!


Road to our Baby’s Round Head – First Sore

3 Sep

First let me say that I absolutely think the stocking used over the baby’s head when they take measurements is hysterical. Lucas looks like he’s ready to go break into someone’s house and steal the latest Baby Einstein video or something.

So, we thought our visit last week went well. As usual Cranial Technologies (CT) took us on time and we were in and out. They couldn’t find Lucas’ head mold but promised to get to the bottom of that before the next visit. We were in and out in about 15 minutes. Good news for mommy…. until the next morning.

Lucas woke up with his first bad sore from the DOC helmet. I was mortified – it was pretty bad. He’s been a little red here and there, but it has always passed. The sore was about the size of a quarter and bright red. As instructed in the past, we took off the helmet and waited one hour to see if it would fade. We also applied hydrocortisone and rubbed it in really well to make sure Lucas wouldn’t get it on his hands. I was hoping he had slept on it wrong.

Three hours passed and it was still there. When I looked inside the helmet I noticed a pretty bumpy ridge in one of the areas they adjusted over the left ear temple. I called CT and they squeezed me in at the end of the day. Instructed me to keep the helmet off. There really was no choice in the matter. As soon as I had put it back on him earlier, the sore came back immediately.

When we arrived the technician was surprised to see us and apologized for the inconvenience. They really are super nice at the Paramus office! Problem fixed, except now it seems like the helmet is a bit too loose. That will have to wait until next week.

So, lessons learned last week:
1. Take a close look at the helmet and feel around with your own hands before you leave. It will give you a chance to address any doubts. Look for any ridges that might feel a little too much like a speed bump!

2. Check baby’s head first thing in the morning, especially day first few days after a new adjustment, to make sure that that he doesn’t have red spots from sleeping on it the wrong way.

3. Keep that hydrocortisone cream handy. It cools the sore spot and stops them from making it worse by scratching at it.

More soon!

The Road to a Baby’s Round Head – Part 2 – About Week 1

21 Aug

It’s Working!

Lucas has now been in his DOC band helmet for four weeks and we can see a very big difference, particularly above his ears where he was very wide. He also had a deep ridge in the back of his head and that is absolutely gone. The back still looks flat, but we can see that it is starting to fill in at the bottom. The technicians were very happy with the results after only three weeks.

Looking Back – The First Week

Looking back over the last few weeks makes me appreciate how much he has gotten used to wearing his helmet, particularly at night. The first week was miserable. The folks at Cranial Technologies warned us that he would get hot, but we didn’t expect what we went through. I’m not going to downplay it – it was bad! Every kid is different, and our son tends to be a ‘hot’ baby. The first night we took the helmet off after about 3 hours because he was so upset. He woke up completely soaked down his back, and there was really no consoling him. That night I thought we’d never get through it. I think we slept a total of 4 hours.

Sleeping with the DOC band helmet

During the first few days we followed the guidelines (take off every couple of hours to check for sores) and every time we took it off, he was soaked. No sores the first week. I called Cranial Technologies and they told me that it just takes some time for their body temperature to adjust. The second night we broke our rules and let him sleep in bed with us. That made it easier for me to feel for sweat, and when I started to feel it drip out of the helmet, I would take it off for an hour or two (yep, in the middle of the night). I’d set my iPhone timer so that I could wake up and put it back on. I am not going to say it was easy, but by the 4th night he was not leaking sweat out of it anymore. By the fifth day he was definitely sweating a lot less. We also really chilled down the room to 70 degrees and didn’t put him in pajama pants. He is still only sleeping in an onesie. It’s made a big difference. I’ll try throwing a blankie on him but he only kicks it off. Now that he’s adjusted, we are sleeping with the room at 73 degrees and with the ceiling fan.

I was pleasantly shocked by the fact that the helmet had absolutely no impact on him during the day. He completely ignores it. Once in a while when he’s tired he’ll tug on the part by his ear, but only because that’s how he always tells us he’s tired. Funny side benefit – now that Lucas is crawling and scooting, the helmet has saved us from many, many bruises! The helmet does droop down a lot when he’s drinking his bottle, so we just make sure to adjust it so that it doesn’t get in his way. One other thing – parents have to be careful! We have been scraped and banged by our son’s head a few times, and it hurts!

When we went back for our first adjustment (the first time its in a week) they had to do some pretty major cutting in the front of the helmet because it was coming down too low over his eyebrows, and it was hitting his left ear every time he got on his belly to try to crawl. I kept thinking that the helmet wasn’t’ the right size, but Cranial Technologies reminded me that they have to leave room for three months worth of head growth. If you think about how much they grow every month, the size of the helmet made more sense.

A few days after this first adjustment we ended up back at Cranial Technologies. Lucas was getting fairly large red spots at his temples that weren’t disappearing, so we went back and they adjusted it again. That fixed the problem, and we haven’t had any issues with sores since then.

I waited to decorate his helmet until we went for his 2nd week’s appointment, just to make sure that they weren’t going to drastically change anything else on the outside of the helmet. After that second appointment, we went right to Pearl Art Center and bought our goodies. More on decorating the DOC band helmet in my next entry!

Hope this gives everyone some sense of what the expect after they get the DOC band helmet. Best of luck to those considering it or just starting out!