Why Do Babies Wear Helmets?

Why Do Babies Wear Helmets?

Why do babies wear helmets? It’s a normal question to ask, and there are a few potential reasons. In this blog post, we’ll explain a bit more about medical helmets for babies.
In this article: 📝

  • Why do some babies wear helmets?
  • What causes “flat head syndrome” in babies?
  • How long do babies have to wear helmets?
  • Are baby helmets really necessary?

Why do some babies wear helmets?

As parents, we get to know our babies and their tiny bodies pretty well. Especially their heads when we cradle them to feed or stroke their hair while they drift off. So, if we feel a flat spot on their head, it’s natural to worry about whether it’s normal or if it’ll go away.

In reality, about 47% of babies have some sort of flat spot, known as plagiocephaly. And some of them will need treatment to help correct it.

If you’re worried, then have a chat with your child’s pediatrician. If they think treatment will help, they’ll generally recommend baby helmet therapy (also known as cranial orthosis) to gently correct your baby’s skull back into a round shape.

And there is another reason a baby’s head might be shaped differently, and it happens when the plates of the baby’s skull fuse too soon. This is called craniosynostosis, and can need different treatment – with or without a helmet – to help the head shape.

What causes “flat head syndrome” in babies?

A flat spot can form at birth when your baby moves through the birth canal, or when they sleep in the same position or rest their head in their bouncer or car seat for long periods of time. Their skull is made of soft plates, which can still be malleable. That’s great for giving plenty of space to their growing brain, but it means a baby’s head can change shape quite easily. Don’t worry though, developing a flat spot isn’t dangerous for your baby’s brain.

Some parents feel guilty when they find out their baby needs a helmet, because they think it could have been avoided. But most babies don’t have perfectly round heads, and small lumps, bumps, and flat spots are totally normal.

How long do babies have to wear helmets?

If your pediatrician advises it, then helmets can help resolve flat spots or lumps. When worn before six months old, medical helmets for babies are very effective. And between six to nine months, they still work pretty well.

Helmets are not often worn after a baby is 12 months old.

If your baby does need a helmet, they’ll probably wear it for 23 hours a day, usually during a plan of two to four months. Your pediatrician will want to check it regularly, and readjust it when needed, to allow for your baby’s changing head shape.

It’s important to note that these helmets can be expensive, and insurance doesn’t always cover a helmet treatment plan.

Are baby helmets really necessary?

When we look at a little baby in a helmet, it’s normal to wonder whether it’s painful or uncomfortable for them. It shouldn’t be. But it can definitely seem intense when they wear a helmet for so many hours a day for several months. So, it’s natural to ask if these helmets are actually necessary – and whether there are alternative treatment options.

Your doctor may suggest trying repositioning techniques, or physical or occupational therapy to help any issues and giving your baby’s skull the chance to correct flat spots on its own.

And small things can help. Doing tummy time, and moving your baby’s position when feeding. Or cuddling in different positions, and holding your baby up. Plus, limiting long car journeys with your baby in a car seat will all help to support any ongoing therapy.

Generally, doctors think that babies’ head shapes naturally grow and return to a more “rounded” shape over time, and they’ll only recommend a helmet when they think it’s really necessary. So, if you are finding a flat spot, have a chat with the professionals.

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