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We took our healthy daughter for her 4-month checkup and half-jokingly asked the doctor whether we should be concerned about the fact her head is a bit misshapen. It is fairly round in the back left but the back right is noticeably flatter.

To our surprise, she referred us to a cranial plastic surgeon for their opinion and so that we can "be presented with our options while its still early enough to do something"... with the most likely option being a special helmet that helps her skull to grow evenly.

We have the follow-up appointment next week where I'm hoping to get answers to these and other questions, but we'd love to hear answers from anyone else that has heard of this:

  1. Any risks to be aware of?
  2. How common is this sort of thing?
  3. Is there any reason to use the helmet other than cosmetic reasons?
  4. Will my daughter resent us for not getting the helmet for her if she has a misshapen head later in life?
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seems that her potential annoyance at wearing a helmet at this age would be far less than her potential annoyance that you didn't do anything about it for her when she's 16. Granted, this all depends on to what extent of 'mishapeness' we're talking about. – DA01 Jan 22 '12 at 23:08
A friend of ours has a daughter with a noticeable flat spot on the back of her head. Even with longish hair, it can be seen. If you have a simply fix, then I think it's worth fixing. – dave Jan 23 '12 at 20:15
Was craniosynostosis excluded as the cause for the malformed skull? – refro Jan 27 '12 at 10:00
We met with the cranial plastic surgeon and he diagnosed her with 'positional plagiocephaly' as we were expecting. He also offered to write a prescription for one of these helmets as we thought, but he also communicated to us that her plagiocephaly is mild-to-moderate and so it is likely that as she grows older and spends less time on her back that her head will naturally round out a bit. So we're going to skip the helmet for now but also see if it gets better/worse over the next couple months and revisit the decision. Hard to mark a 'correct' answer, but thanks everyone for your thoughts! – lmsurprenant Feb 5 '12 at 2:47
@Imsurprenant How'd it go? – deworde Mar 19 '14 at 16:31

My daughter had the DOC helmet. She got it at 10 months old, and the whole reason we went with the DOC helmet and not the Ballert helmet was because the Ballert people basically had this really crummy attitude about older kids getting the helmet, and we'd only been referred to the craniofacial doc when my daughter was 9 months old.

  1. No, no risks.
  2. More common than you'd think, particularly with infants sleeping on their backs now and the use of baby swings.
  3. Well I was a big fan of the fact that I could walk my daughter into a doorjamb, but other than that, not really. It's kind of nice when they take a leaping dive off the couch, too, but you probably don't have to worry about that at 4 months.
  4. Who knows? I'm sure she'll add it to the list of resentments she'll constantly be forming.

A couple of other things to be aware of. Other people are idiots. If you do opt for the helmet (I highly recommend if insurance covers it that you do), people will approach you and ask you stupid questions like "does she fall down a lot?" or my favorite, the lady who told me "I'll be praying for her" without asking what the helmet was for.

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I'm going to put forward the counter-argument.

Be aware, the evidence to suggest that the misshapen head that babies get from sleeping on their back is going to lead to a permanently misshapen skull is highly contentious, especially in medical systems where there's less of a profit motive, and therefore no real advantage to the medical centre in selling what is at core a £2,000 cycle helmet.

The argument is that this will sort itself out on its own as the skull matures.

If you want to go ahead with this just in case, that's fine, but it's worth doing some research first.

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When the helmet is only cosmetic this can be true. It also could be a form of craniosynostosis. In this case a helmet alone is not enough but surgery is also needed. In the Netherlands (where i live) some forms of craniosynostosis are treaded with endoscopic surgery followed by a helmet to reform the head. – refro Jan 27 '12 at 9:58
True, thanks for the clarification. But this is NOT what's being talked about here. I specifically said "misshapen head that babies get from sleeping on their back". The misshapen head that results from a serious bone disease is, I would suggest, a different thing. – deworde Jan 28 '12 at 10:55
@deworde Note that in the original question he says that the head is fairly round in the back left but the back right is noticeably flatter. It seems this may something different that just getting a flat head from laying on her back. Especially since they were recommended to go to a specialist. Most doctors does not suggest that with a little flatness. – Ida Sep 12 '14 at 18:40

I am writing this because when I first found out my son needed a cranial band (helmet) I was very hesitant and leery about him needing one. I looked for different online resources for help in making a decision. I hope this post helps some of you in the same situation I was in.

My son had torticolis and was going to PT to strengthen his neck muscles. We were told he had a flat spot on the back of his head and his head was asymmetrical. We were told with a helmet, his head could be corrected in three months. After a lot of debate, we decided to get him the helmet.

I have to tell you that it was one of the best decisions I ever made. When we first put it on, he tried to grab out it, but after that, he was totally fine with it for the entire 3 months. We saw a lot of improvement in the first few weeks and it worked great throughout the three months. It didn’t bother him at all. It was just like another piece of clothing to him. He would wear it all night, take it off in the morning for a half hour to get ready, wear it all day until about 5:00. We would take it off to play, take a bath, and get ready for bed and then would put it on for his sleep. The first week his head sweated a lot, but then got used to it. He wore it from November until February. (He wore it from 6 to 9 months)

There were only a few people who asked about it in public and we just said he had a flat spot which the helmet will correct in a few months. We were open with our friends and family and everyone agreed it was the best decision.

He is now 10 months old and his head is practically normal. The best thing is that we never need to worry about it again. I am so happy I did it. I never wanted him to come home from school one day and ask me why other kids are making fun of his head. I never wanted him to ask why we didn’t have him wear a helmet that he would never remember. We never have to worry about it again I would recommend it to anyone!

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Our son had a bit of a misshapen skull, and we were recommended to take him for cranial osteopathy.

The osteopath was great over a course of a number of months (think he had about 5-6 sessions) the plates of his skull were gently manipulated to aid them with their alignment as he grew and they set.

This seemed to do the trick.

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I too would choose the cranial osteopathic route (my gf is an osteopath and both our children have benefited from osteopathic treatment). In the UK, the Osteopathic Centre for Children is a specialist centre for paediatric osteopathy, they run both a clinic and extensive postgraduate training for osteopaths in cranial techniques and their specific application to children. There is a list of graduates of their course on their website so you can look to see if there is a specialist qualified paediatric cranial osteopath near you. If not, ring them or email them for advice. – stuffe Jan 31 '12 at 21:52

Our older son had a big flat on the back of his head and I was worried about it at the time. Then I read that this can happen if a baby sleeps on its back (which he did), and that you can even it out if they sleep on their side more, and that it goes away with time (it did!). He didn't have much hair for the first year, so you would notice the flat spot on our perfect baby boy's head. Now he's 17, all is well. All babies are beautiful. I think this is a case of over-diagnosis. With time it will even out. It doesn't sound pleasant for a baby to wear a helmet, and it could get in the way of development by blocking mobility and hearing, so I would be cautious unless there is a really clear medical reason.

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Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

"it could get in the way of development by blocking mobility and hearing" Do you have any sources for this claim? If so, please add them in to your answer. If not, and this is just speculation on your part, I'd suggest removing it. This community expects answers to be based on personal anecdotes or research, and speculating without either could provide misleading information. – Beofett Mar 10 '14 at 17:05
Please cite your source regarding a cranial helmet blocking mobility and hearing. I haven't read that anywhere and I've done many hours worth of research. – user7067 Mar 19 '14 at 14:36

Our 5 month old son showed a slight flattening on his right side. The laser scan can see it, I don't. (I believe it's 0.6mm above normal.) His frontal lobe of his skull is fine and no deformities. His ears are level and all looks well.

We do neck stretching side to side as per the Doctor's prescription as well as a lot of tummy time. He sleeps on his stomach, and turns his head from side to side. Sometimes he flips on his back when he is waking up, but not for a long period of time.

I don't have 3,000 dollars for a helmet which he would only wear for 3 months. As I'm feeding him, I support the back of his head and move my hand around every 5 min massaging it. We talked to a physical therapist and told him what I was doing; his exact words were, "You are doing exactly what we would be doing. Keep up the good work and your son will be fine." That was a relief.

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Welcome to Parenting.SE, Gary. This is a good description of alternatives that were recommended by a professional for minor flattening, but doesn't really touch on the core questions from the OP -- what are risks of a helmet (beyond cost, presumably), are there other advantages, and so on. Take a look at the tour to get an idea of how our site really works. Again, welcome, and thank you for contributing! – Erica Nov 12 '15 at 15:18

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