Friday, December 16, 2011

Life's Tough, Get A Helmet

One of the most common searches that drives new traffic to my blog is "baby flat head". I've been really open about Will's brachycephaly, but I wanted to do a quick post for anyone looking for help and support.

First of all: stop the guilt. Right now. I know you feel awful, and you think this is all your fault. But you know what? It isn't. Some kids develop this condition. You did nothing better or worse than the parent of a kid who doesn't have to wear a helmet. What matters now is that you're doing something to help your child. And that's what counts.

When we first brought up Will's flat head to our pediatrician, he told us it would fix itself. But I couldn't shake the feeling that it was more serious than that. So I pushed for a referral to a specialist, and guess what? Will's case was severe. Helmet outcomes are better the younger your child is, so get that referral before 6 months if possible, even if your pediatrician says its fine. The specialist (in our case an orthotist) will tell you if treatment is warranted.

Making the decision to get the helmet is a very personal one. It's a big commitment on the part of the parent, and some insurance companies will not pay for treatment because it's deemed "cosmetic". If you're on the fence, allow me to share some advice that really helped me: I have never once heard of a parent who regretted getting the helmet, but there are plenty of stories out there of parents who didn't helmet and now wished they would have. The window of correction is so small. No one wants to look back and think "if only..."

Helmets come in all kinds of colors and patterns. If possible, get a solid color so you can mix it up with some fun vinyl stickers. This made the helmet process a lot more fun for us. My friend Lisa at Vinyl Wall Decor and More has some super cute designs available. Bling Your Band also does great work.

When your kid gets their helmet, you will probably waiver between thinking it's the worst thing in the world to thinking he/she looks super adorable in it. I would literally go from sobbing about how horrible it is, to taking a million pictures because Will looked so damn cute (see photos below).

Some people will be really rude. I had people tell me I was a bad/lazy/selfish mother. I had people tell me that this wouldn't have happened if I would have done baby wearing (which I did). I had people tell me that they never would have spent that kind of money ($2,800) on a "cosmetic" condition. Going out in public with your kid in a helmet makes you develop tough skin. But I took it as an opportunity to educate people about the condition and teach some empathy.

Despite the occasional rude comment, most people were really wonderful. They told me how adorable Will looked, or made a point to comment on his bright eyes or shy smile. What I really appreciated though, was when a parent would come up to me and tell me their kid wore a helmet too. It was so nice to talk (even briefly) with someone who made it out the other side. I make a point to do the same now.

Talking to other parents who know what you're going through is really helpful. I was fortunate to find a wonderful Facebook support group for parents of kids with plagiocephaly and brachycephaly. It's a closed group for privacy, but anyone is welcome to join. The community is wonderfully supportive. I largely credit this group of women for helping me get through Will's treatment.

Finally, I know it feels like they'll be wearing the helmet forever, but I promise it will go fast. Soon your kid's head will be much rounder, and this all will be a distant memory. I pulled Will's helmet out of the closet last night and smiled. As weird as it sounds, and as much as I hated it at the time, it's hard not to love something that was such a part of him for 5+ months.

Proof you can be adorable while wearing a helmet 
Isn't he darling?!?


  1. I actually have tears in my eyes right now, thank you!

  2. What a wonderful post! Our son is about to get a helmet (at age 12 months). I pray we are not too late to fix his (minor) flat head.

    Our doctor told us it would get better as he learned to sit up/move around...which it did, just not to the extent we wanted it to.

    What a great post to support those about to make the big decision. And while my son hasn't gotten his helmet yet, I know it will be one of the best decisions we made for him.

    I hate that we didn't stand up for our oldest daughter.



Thanks for reading!