When you become a mother, everyone warns you about “things”. People tell you that you’ll have sleepless nights. They say all babies grow at their own pace, and not to compare to others. And it’s well known that babies don’t keep. Nobody warns you about the hard decisions though. The decisions that impact not just your baby, but your entire family. The expensive decisions, the decisions that could alter their life, or the decisions that are just down right hard to swallow. Nobody warned me about that part of motherhood….
When Connor was just a couple month’s old, my parents were visiting and my dad made a comment about Connor’s flat spot on his head. I shrugged it off like it was no big deal. Soon after that though, I realized in every photo we had of Connor, his head was facing the same direction. When he was sleeping, his head only faced that same direction as well. A pattern was forming. I briefly mentioned something to our [awesome] pediatrician, but he assured me not to worry. Most babies grow out of it/as long as we kept an eye on him, it would be fine. A couple months later though at his 4 month appointment, I knew his head hadn’t gotten better. His flat spot was more noticeable than ever, the stretching exercises we found on YouTube weren’t working, and truthfully, Jake and I began to worry. Connor’s flat spot and tight neck was the very first thing his doctor mentioned at that 4 month old appointment. Due to COVID, I was at the appointment by myself, and I knew what the next step was. With tears in my eyes, falling on to my mask, our pediatrician recommended moving forward with Cranial Technology, and getting Connor a helmet. At that moment, I felt like I had failed as a mother. Over three months ago I shrugged off my dad’s comment, I convinced myself that it wasn’t that noticeable, and that my child would never be THE child with a helmet. Maybe I hadn’t failed as a mother, but I was naive to think I was too good to put my child in such a thing.
After a tearful phone call to my mom, a few more tearful late night conversations with my husband, and a cranial consult later; Jake and I knew that we had to do what was best for Con. And that was to get him fitted for a helmet.
Before we made the hard decision as a family to move forward with a helmet, I googled and googled, and googled some more about others’ experiences with it. I found a few personal blogs from mothers that eased my mind. In writing this post, I hope someone else finds this, and it comforts them into making the best decision for their family. Thankfully, helmets are more common than you think, but I wanted to answer some basic questions others have had, to normalize it even more.
DocBand Helmet Q&A:
Q: What exactly is the helmet for?
A: The “DocBand” AKA helmet, is to put slight pressure in certain areas of the baby’s head, to allow a flat spot to catch up in growth; reshaping the head into a more symmetrical look. Disclaimer: While reshaping, there is absolutely no harm in the brain, developmental aspects of the child. It’s completely safe!
For Connor specifically, we wanted the helmet to not only fix his severe flat spot, but also adjust his growth in this forehead, his jawline, and ear alignment. Without the helmet, his entire face would have become lopsided.
Q: Was the DocBand helmet recommended by your pediatrician?
A: Yes! Now I don’t believe your pediatrician HAS to recommend it for you though. All consultations at Cranial Technology are free, and they are wonderful at making it very clear that the final decision for your baby is up to YOU! No pressure from anyone.
Q: How long is the helmet worn for?
A: Helmet wear all depends on your baby’s age when starting. The younger you start them, the less time your baby will likely have to wear their helmet. (Due to the speed of growth when they’re so little.) Because we started Connor at a pretty young age (5 months), he was scheduled for 8-10 weeks.
Q: So after 8-10 weeks, your baby’s head will be perfect?
A: Like anything else, each child grows at a different pace. With Connor specifically, the majority of his growth did indeed happen in 10 weeks. A second band was recommended from the certified DocBand tech, but as a family, we chose not to move forward with another one. There was an immense improvement with Connor already, and honestly, we weren’t looking for perfection…. just “more normal” if you will. To us, his head is perfectly imperfect.
Q: Can you take the helmet off throughout the day?
A: The helmet is to be worn 23 hours a day, with a one hour break to bathe the baby, and wipe down the inside of the helmet. The helmet can’t get wet either, so we took it off during our beach vacation or at the pool. Other than that though, we were pretty strict with keeping it on him. The more he wore it, the faster his head would start to reform.
Q: Was Connor bothered by the helmet?
A: Honestly, he wasn’t bothered for one single minute! As a mother, I was so worried that he wouldn’t sleep well, cry often, and just look uncomfortable. But even from Day 1, it never phased him. Eventually we got so used to it, we forgot it was even on him. I didn’t want to admit it at the time, but I was more self conscious going into it… thinking others would judge.
Alongside his biweekly appointments to readjust his helmet, Connor also had biweekly physical therapy for his torticollis. This was to stretch and strengthen his neck muscles, so he wasn’t constantly laying and looking only to his right. Without PT, his helmet wouldn’t have been nearly as effective.
It was the fastest 10 weeks ever… and honestly, I sometimes miss that stinky styrofoam helmet. But without a doubt, working with Cranial Technologies was the absolute best decision we could have made for Connor. I would 100% recommend it to anyone/would do it again for my future children.
Just know that whatever decisions you make for your family, are the best decisions. You’re not alone, and you’re not failing. You’re doing the best you can <3 XOXO,