(This is a personal experience. Consult with your doctor before treating your child with any of the information in this blog)
“Your baby has a flat head”, the pediatrician told me.
I have heard of this many times and have friends who their babies had this and needed the helmet so I knew where this was going.
I don’t think that anything is wrong, shameful, or embarrassing about babies with flat heads needing a helmet, in fact, I find them adorable.
But, when it came to the time of the pediatrician telling me that my son needed the helmet, I had many more questions.
I never really knew why other babies were wearing the helmets exactly. I knew it was “flat head” but I didn’t know what caused it, what the repercussions were of not fixing it, etc.
So, questions ran through my head immediately.
“Doctor, If I’m remembering correctly, I was advised to allow my baby to sleep as much as he wanted and that most new born babies sleep about 15 hours a day. I was also advised to have my baby sleep on his back because back is best…so, is there something I should have been doing differently to have avoided this?” I questioned.
My son’s pediatrician reassured me that it wasn’t really anything that I did wrong but it is a pretty common issue (if you will) due to babies sleeping on their backs.
I asked him if he could give me a little more time to work with my son before we made a final decision to get a helmet. I don’t know if you know but they are generally about 3-4 thousand dollars, a 23 out of 24 hour commitment, 7 days a week, and can be months of wearing it.
It sounded like a very big adjustment to make for Pano and a very big commitment for all of us. No excuses to pull it off when he’s crying, no wanting him to take it off when he’s dressed up, no wanting him to sleep more comfortably, etc.
I knew that Pano was finally getting to the age/size that he was going to be able to sit up more in his exersaucer/jumpy and he was fitting in his high chair so I’d have a fair chance at making it better before our next visit if he would agree.
When I went home, I immediately laid down the law to my 4 month old son and told him, it’s time to go to work son… no more of the life of relaxation for you…we are doing more tummy time, more time in the exersaucer, jumper, high chair, etc. Lucky me, this was right before Christmas so I boycotted holiday shopping in the malls pretty much so that he wasn’t sitting in a car seat all day putting pressure on his head. Online shopping was my saving grace and we kept my little guy up as much as possible.
I also decided to look into “flat head” babies and I wanted to know everything about why it’s so important to do the helmet and when it was considered too late.
That’s when I stumbled across Cranial Manipulative Therapy. The success stories were unreal. I read different peoples experiences saying that their child’s head was shaped up to how it was supposed to be in a hand full of treatments….whhhhhhaaaaattttt? I had to find a doctor who could do this. I didn’t care if I had to drive two hours away. I liked what I saw and read.
So, I called a few different places that said they did something like that and I wasn’t really convinced that they were as sure they were as experienced with babies. Everyone promised a lot but something was telling me no. Until I ended up making an appointment with a doctor who was right in my town. Chiropractor, Ryan Glynn met with me and confidently explained to me what his plan was to do specifically for Pano, about how long it would take, why he was doing it. I knew I was in the right spot.
I do listen to everything and I do understand but I am no doctor so in my own terms I will say that basically what the doctor is doing is reshaping the head with gentle touch manipulating the skull and connective tissue. Working on the changing facets with his hands before they form to their permanent spot. What the helmet does for 23 hours a day, he’s doing exactly where it needs the work more intensely for about 15-20 min. each visit.
And all he asks of me is to do these head massages basically to my little man a few times through out the day. Sometimes I can do it for 10 min. at a time 3 times a day if he’s distracted (bath time is the longest I can do it because he likes when I wash his hair) other days I have to do it more often for shorter amounts of time because that’s all he will allow me to do. But, pretty easy request from the doctor, right?
We have been going to therapy for almost two months, 3 visits each week and there is an undeniable difference in my sons head shape!
He’s got about 3 weeks more and we just dropped it down to 2 visits each week and I am relieved at how the treatments are working and feel confident that we will not need the helmet.
I was mostly excited because Doctor Ryan Glynn is working on the exact places that need work. A helmet would just be applying pressure to the whole entire head. He also is working on it for more than just cosmetic reasons but explained to me how vital it is for every part of the skull to develop correctly because it can have learning side effects if not. My son’s flat spot is more on the side than the middle back and the doctor explained to me that where that is can effect speech, chewing, learning disabilities, and more.
I also noticed that since he’s been working on his flat head, his neck is moving more to both sides and his body is becoming more centered. He always fell asleep with his head cocked to one side, favored one side for everything really. It puts my heart and mind at ease knowing that we went this route and did everything that we could to give him the best head start to growing, learning, developing.
What you should do if you’re told your baby has a flat head
Research-know what that means. Read about it, learn about it, and figure out a plan that seems best to you for your child, you are the parent. No one will know what’s best for your child than you.
Find a doctor-When you’re not in the medical field at all and a doctor either explains nothing to you or talks to you in a way that you question if they’re even speaking English, that’s probably not the right fit for you.
It’s not only your right to know what a doctor is doing to your child but your responsibility as their parent. You are their advocate, their voice, their decision maker. You need to have all the information before you just jump in trusting the first person you find on the internet.
Know your investment-How much are these treatments and/or helmet going to cost and for how long will they need it, are there any side effects, do they take insurance, etc.
Be 100% committed-it’s a short window of time that you’ll start hearing that your baby needs a helmet to the time that everything is pretty much formed to where it’s going to be. If you’re like me and only have a couple of months to get the job done, be 100% committed. Don’t make excuses why you can’t go, your baby doesn’t like it, the good doctor is far away, the doctor only has morning appointments available, etc. blah blah…this is your child’s well being, do whatever you must.
Be just as committed to what the doctor asks of you outside of his or her office.
Take Photos-I took photos the first day the pediatrician told me that Pano had a flat head and I needed to work on it. I took photos one month after working on keeping him off his head, and then 2 months later after he had been in therapy for about a month so I can compare, the chiropractor can, and the pediatrician.
The flat head epidemic is not a very serious thing, it’s usually cosmetic but it can be more than just cosmetic sometimes and have more negative effects later on. To me, it wasn’t worth the risk if there was something I could do to prevent those concerns. It’s been a pretty easy schedule of appointments, they’re quick, and affordable (especially with insurance). The work we have to do at home is easy as well, I usually stand behind my babe while he’s in his exersaucer and will do it, sit him on my lap when he’s sleepy and sing to him and do it, bath time is good, and sometimes he doesn’t want me to and he just has to deal with it because I’m his mom and I’m doing it with love and for what’s best for him.
Has anyone else tried this way of fixing a flat head? Or try other ways they were successful with?
If you’re from the suburbs of Chicago or even greater Chicago land area, I highly recommend Glynn Chiropractic in Libertyville, Il.
I hope this helped someone out there that was like me looking for answers!
Find joy in all of your journey,
Spoiled Milk Club