Did you ever wonder if you should have helmeted sooner? While we strongly recommend starting helmet therapy between 4 and 6 month of age, it is possible to helmet at 3 months. We typically only recommend it for the following reasons:
1) Head Severity: Cranial Remolding Helmet at 3 months of age is recommended for severe plagiocephaly that is effecting 3 quadrants or more of the head. If your child had:
extended hospital stay in NICU/PICU
severe torticollis from positioning in utero
they might already have severe plagiocephaly that is interfering with motor development. When babies have severely asymmetrical heads, they tend to have difficulty getting off of the flat spot to rotate their neck from side to side. This causes the head to get even flatter and more asymmetry to develop. This can lead to an ear shifting forward, malocclusion of the jaw, and tear duct blockage. When this occurs babies are unable to independently move through the developmental milestones. While repositioning at this age can reshape the head, it is beneficial to helmet at this early age to prevent further delay or to prevent further flattening.
Not sure if your baby has severe plagiocephaly or not? Get assessed with a free evaluation as early as possible. This is helpful to track your babies cranial growth and progress with repositioning attempts.
2) Underlying Condition: If your child has an underlying condition or diagnosis where we know they are going to be spending the majority of time on their back then you may want to helmet as early as 3 months. Some babies with congenital conditions tend to be fully dependent on parents for positioning. If they are not independently driven to move off the flat spot or they are developmentally delayed, a helmet can prevent deformation from occurring.
Some diagnoses that benefit from early Cranial Remolding Helmet include:
Congenital Birth Anomalies
Congenital Heart Defects
Prematurity <32 weeks
Reflux / Delayed Gastric Emptying
If you have a baby that is struggling with tummy time and has an underlying condition, you would benefit from downloading our TummyTime Toolkit! We have 3 cases studies from babies near and dear to our hearts and how they powered through tummy time.
3) Preference: If you as a parent feel you prefer your child to get in and out of a helmet ASAP, you may prefer to start as early as 3 months. Many of our families that have had previous children in helmets decide to helmet their new babies as early as 3 months. Not only do the babies tolerate it better, their heads correct faster and completely!
This because the helmet work by holding parts of the head that have been pushed out and allowing space for growth in the helmet where they head is flat. Babies are growing rapidly at 3 months! They literally grow into the mold in as little as 3 weeks.
Take for example one of our recent helmet graduates, Karis (which means grace). Miss Karis started early, at 3 months old, with a severity of 10 mm. Now on many older kids we consider 10 mm to be a moderate asymmetry but 10 mm on a small, 39 cm head is more severe than 10 mm on a larger 45 cm head. Karis's mom had experience with her older children having helmets and decided she wanted to start Karis sooner than later. We measured Karis at 2 months old and when she was measuring at the same severity at 3 months old, her mom decided to move forward with the helmet. After three weeks of helmet wear Karis had grown 22 mm in circumference and her severity moved from 10 mm of asymmetry to 3.4 mm (see measurement blog). Her pictures below demonstrate her growth from 2 months, 3 months, and now at 4 months. Note how the helmet allowed her to grow on the back right and front left into the mold of the helmet.
Her mom wanted us to share her story in case any of your out there are wondering if it is better to start sooner than later. Thank you!
Whether you chose to helmet at 3 months or 12 months, the decision should be made by a well informed caregiver and your baby's healthcare team. We are happy to guide this decision, whether you choose to try positioning and monitor the head shape, or to get the helmet over with. Always remember that cranial remolding helmet is a noninvasive treatment for plagiocephaly and no one should be shamed for their decision to helmet, or not.
There is never a problem with coming in early for more information. Our StarScanner is safe for baby and allows us to track progress over time. Many of our parents that come in early for repeat measurements until they make their decision report feeling more comfortable with their ultimate decision of cranial remolding helmet or not. For more information, call (702) 697-7070. We offer free evaluations, and serve the babies of Las Vegas and Reno, NV and now Omaha, NE.