Okay, here is a popular topic: how do I keep this helmet clean?
Let's talk about cleaning the helmet and general skin inquiries.
I one time had a mom genuinely tell me, "Why don't you prepare us for how the helmet is going to smell?" Well, the truth is, some helmets stink more than others and that's because some babies sweat more than others. Overtime however, I have had parents tell me some specific pearls of wisdom for decreasing the stink. First let's go over some general methods of cleaning the helmet.
The number one, manufacturer recommendation is to clean the helmet with "unscented rubbing alcohol". Most off-the-shelf rubbing alcohols are unscented. Some have wondered if a higher concentration of alcohol is better and research says that 60-90% is effective with 70% being the most effective. Why is that? Well 70% alcohol is mixed with 30% water and allows the alcohol to absorb and disinfect before it completely evaporates. I always caution patients to use a light layer of rubbing alcohol, never saturate the helmet, especially around the forehead and cheeks! These areas of baby's skin are sensitive and can become dried out with too much rubbing alcohol.
Another method of cleaning the helmet is to take baby shampoo on a washcloth, run it under some warm water, and then wipe the inside of the helmet with the sudsy washcloth. Typically it is best to use whatever shampoo you use for your baby. If your baby has very sensitive skin use unscented soap. If you have an extra stinky helmet, I have heard that using "tea-tree" oil based baby shampoo helps eliminate the scent. Wipe until the surface inside the helmet looks clean, wipe any excess suds off with a damp washcloth. Let the helmet air dry or place it in front of a fan. The helmet should be completely dry before placing it back on baby.
Now with COVID-19, there is a shortage on rubbing alcohol! Orthomerica, the manufacturer of the Starband helmet, has a great resource for you on what to do without access to rubbing alcohol. For the full article, click here.
What about redness?
Your baby is going to have some redness, this is normal and expected. Redness can be caused by heat, skin irritation, or pressure. We want to especially look at redness caused by pressure because too much redness can indicate your baby's helmet needs to be adjusted. Helmet adjustments are a part of the process and generally caused by your baby's head growing and changing.
The helmet is a symmetrical version of your baby's asymmetrical head. It is going to be tighter on areas that have been pushed out and have space where your little one's head needs to grow. Hot spots for redness are going to depend on where your baby's head needs shaping. Typical spots for redness include cheeks, the forehead, and over the ears. We recommend applying diaper cream to the red areas prior to putting the helmet back on. Redness should go away after about 45 minutes of removing the helmet. You want to look out for red spots that are about the size and shape of a quarter, these can turn into pressure sores. Photograph and notify your cranial practitioner if these spots are lasting over 30-45 minutes. Do not put the helmet back on if you get these pressure spots.
Other skin irritations may not necessarily be caused by the helmet. It is always good to keep the helmet clean, skin protected with diaper cream or vaseline, and to speak to your pediatrician if your baby develops a rash. They may prescribe you with a cream based on how your little one's skin is reacting.
Share your tips!!! What have you found to be most effective for keeping your helmet clean?