You have made the decision to commit to the helmet and help your baby fix their flat. Now the big question is, how long do they have to wear this thing?
First, we want to go back again to why we are wearing the helmet. When babies are little they are still developing their strength and mobility. This leads to difficulty moving in and out of positions independently. Sustained time in similar restricted positions can lead to flattening, as the head grows in the path of least resistance. For more information on what may lead to a flat head see our post _____
This idea of developing strength and mobility is important when we start to consider length of time in the helmet. Generally, we have found babies complete helmet therapy in 3-5 months. However, there are many factors that allow our practitioners to develop an individualized treatment plan for each family.
These factors include:
2. Head Circumference
Let's start here. Your baby has been doing amazing in their helmet and you have seen significant improvement. You might be wondering, why do they have to keep wearing it? How perfect does their head need to be?
When our practitioners consider ending treatment we want to be confident our babies do not lose the progress they have made. This leads us back to where your baby is at developmentally. If their soft spot is still open we want to ensure they do not spend extended time in restricted positions. Some things we might ask:
-Are they still preferring one side?
-Are they a belly sleeper or a back sleeper?
-How often are they doing tummy time?
Based on the answers to these questions your practitioner will give a clear treatment plan and we may suggest wearing the helmet like a retainer until the soft spot is closed.
As we have mentioned in previous posts, we recommend scanning early. The sweet spot for beginning therapy is between 4-6 months. This is because we are trying to catch as much head growth as possible and the head will grow about 75% of its total size by your babies first birthday! Our practitioners utilize the growth charts shown below to help guide the helmet process and determine how much growth must occur in the helmet. When the head grows, the helmet works its magic and gently directs that growth towards the flattened areas. This leads to improved symmetry and a round head. If your baby already has a larger head, you may want to consider starting the helmet process sooner because we want the rest of their growth spurt to occur with the helmet directing the growth.
The helmet works by holding specific areas such as the forehead, cheek, head, or ear to prevent continued outward growth or asymmetry. If these asymmetries were moderate to severe at your evaluation your baby will need more time in the helmet for full correction. We will continue to take scans and show you exactly where they are at during each appointment to adjust the timeline accordingly. Once your baby's goals are met we will decrease or discontinue wear time.
So how long is helmet therapy?
The majority of our patients meet and exceed their goals after 3-5 months of helmet wear. All of our patients show significant improvement within the first 3 weeks of wear. Your child's journey is as unique as they are! Just know that they will mostly likely not being wearing the helmet the full time for 3-5 months, we prefer our patients to have dedicated developmental time without their cranial orthotic once they have met goals.
Curious about how your child's development, circumference, or severity would impact their time in the helmet? Schedule a consultation today 702-697-7070