The first time that you see a baby wearing a helmet, it can be a bit confusing. Why would a baby need to wear a helmet, especially a child that can’t crawl yet? It’s not as if they can hurt themselves.
This may be the case for older children, but younger babies are still seen wearing helmets.
It could be to help their head form properly. Older babies might wear a helmet for a variety of reasons, such as banging their heads on things when they are frustrated.
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Why Do Infants Wear Helmets?
Seeing a child wearing a helmet can be intriguing. You want to know why a baby is wearing a helmet, but you don’t want to be impolite and ask.
My grandson almost had to wear a helmet before he could crawl. This led to me asking the doctor why other babies wear helmets out of sheer curiosity.
It turns out there are quite a few perfectly understandable reasons why you might see a baby wearing a helmet.
Wearing A Helmet Can Cure Flat Head Syndrome
When you have a little one, you find yourself in a predicament. On the one hand, you’re not supposed to hold them while they sleep, and they should always sleep on their back.
On the other hand, too much time on their back can result in your little one having a flat head.
Once your baby has a flat head, it needs to become round again. As the head grows and the skull continues to harden, certain things can help that. One of them is a helmet.
You only have until your baby is about a year old to resolve the problem of them having a flat head or else they are stuck with it.
That’s why doctors might recommend that your little one wear a helmet. The round shape of the helmet will instantly help your baby develop a nice, round head shape.
While the grandbaby was in the NICU, they were able to prevent this by using a gel-like pillow under his head.
It wasn’t until he got home and no longer had one that he began to develop a flat spot. If you use one of these, it can go a long way in both preventing and treating a flat spot on a baby’s head.
Always remember that pillows are not considered safe for babies, even if they are too small to roll over. Make sure that you only use this when you are in the room with the baby and able to keep them close to you to prevent accidents.
How To Prevent A Flat Spot (Or Help A Flat Spot Correct Itself)
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Sometimes, there is nothing you can do about a flat spot. However, there are some steps that you can take to help your little one develop a round head before they get prescribed a helmet.
The grandbaby’s pediatrician insisted that he would grow out of it.
However, we weren’t so sure and wanted to do whatever we could to help him along the way. These are some of the things that we did, and the baby wound up not needing a helmet.
Start tummy time as soon as you can. You shouldn’t let your baby sleep on their stomach, but you can lay them on their stomach when they are awake.
Tummy time can not only prevent a flat spot, but it can also help your little one develop strong neck and back muscles that they will need for future developmental milestones, like holding their head up and sitting up.
Some babies are going to hate tummy time. They simply scream as soon as you lay them on their stomach.
If this happens, lay down on your back and lay them on their stomach on top of you. You can also pick up some toys to help entice them into enjoying tummy time.
Get A Bumbo Seat
If your baby is a bit older, consider picking up a bumbo seat. There are seats available that are designed like bumbo seats so your baby can learn how to sit up, but they can also have something to play with at the same time.
The grandbaby wasn’t a huge fan of tummy time and needed something to help him learn to sit up aside from sitting on everyone’s lap, so this worked out wonderfully for us. This is the one that I bought, and the baby loved it:
It also has a snack tray, which made it more convenient than it already was.
Use A Baby Carrier Instead Of A Stroller
The goal is to have your baby lay on their back the least amount possible. That means try to avoid laying in swings, bouncy seats, and even strollers. Instead of using a stroller, get a baby carrier that you wear on your front.
They have some great backpack-style ones that are both comfortable and convenient. You can position your little one so that they are facing you, or are facing away from you.
Either way will work out great. Because your baby is in that position, they will want to lift their head up to see around them.
If they are facing you, they will lay their head on you if they need to rest, which will mean that they lay their head on the side of their head instead of the back.
Re-Position Them In Their Sleep
When a baby is asleep all day, they spend most of their time with their head in one position. That’s why most babies develop a flat spot on the back of their head.
The nurses at the NICU saw this coming and told us what they do to prevent it as much as they can in the NICU.
The key is to put the baby in a position so that they’re not laying on the flat spot. In our case, this was on the back of the head. We used to prop him up a little bit with blankets to lay him on his side.
Throughout the day, he slept in the living room so that it was convenient for me to simply turn his head in his sleep. Some babies will turn their heads back, but that’s okay. Just re-position them again after they fall back asleep.
When a baby wears a helmet, it helps them develop a nice, round head. This is often due to them having a flat spot on their head. Preventing this is the best idea.
If that is just not possible (sometimes babies develop this in the womb or have other conditions), then do your best to help it correct itself.
When preventative measures are not helping, you might have to go to physical therapy with your baby or they will be prescribed a helmet.