7 Things You Need to Know When Your Baby Needs Cranial Remodeling

You just found out your baby needs cranial remodeling. Now what? Check out 7 things you need to know about what comes next.

You just found out your baby needs cranial remodeling. Now what? Check out 7 things you need to know about what comes next.

You spend all your time and energy caring for your baby, and you do the absolute best you can. You’ve probably done everything you can to alternate how you lay your baby in her bed and provided plenty of tummy time, followed all the expert tips. And yet, sometimes, babies get flat heads.

My older child had weak neck muscles, and she literally could not move her head. Therefore, she developed right-side plagiocephaly and we embarked down the path of cranial remodeling (also sometimes called cranial remolding).  Not knowing what to expect, I was very overwhelmed. Here are some of the things we learned along the way that might help as you start your journey.

What You Need to Know About Cranial Remodeling

  1. Understand the terminology. There are two distinct types of skull flattening – plagiocephaly and brachycephaly. Plagiocephaly is a flattening of one side of the back of the skull and may also create a protrusion on the alternate side of the forehead. Bracycephaly is a relatively uniform flattening of the back of the skull and may cause the skull to appear wider than normal.
  2. Ask your pediatrician for a couple referrals for pediatric plastic surgeons or orthotists. You may be referred to a pediatric plastic surgeon first or directly to an orthotist. Ask for more than one referral, and make the appointments for as soon as you can. Make sure you feel comfortable with the orthotist, as you will be working with him or her for at least a few months.
  3. Time is of the essence. The sooner your baby starts in the band, the better. The band “reshapes” the skull by allowing it to fill into the open space in the band as the skull grows. We caught a growth spurt in the first month my daughter was in her helmet, and she had a dramatic change in that first month. Had we waited to start the process, we would have missed that growth spurt.
  4. You will have appointments every 3-4 weeks. The particular type of helmet we had was made by our orthotist (versus the DOC Band or other brand names). At each appointment, the orthotist would take measurements of my daughter’s skull and make adjustments to the helmet (a process including heating the helmet and remolding it). Most babies are in the helmet at least 3-4 months, and possibly longer depending upon growth, age, and other factors.
  5. Pain and redness are not normal. The helmet should not hurt your baby. If you notice any red spots or it seems to be causing pain, make an appointment right away. Fight the urge to put something in the helmet to “reduce” chaffing. The chaffing is being caused by the helmet being too tight – adding a bandage or gauze will only make the tight spot even worse.
  6. Sweaty baby? Ask for air holes. My daughter didn’t seem to care much about the helmet, but she did sweat and get uncomfortable. Our orthotist drilled ventilation holes in a few locations on the helmet, and it made a huge difference! Make sure to clean the inside of the helmet with rubbing alcohol and give your little one a daily bath to keep his head clean.
  7. Graduation doesn’t mean perfection! Chances are good your head isn’t perfectly round, and your baby’s may not get there, either. Don’t expect perfection. We were fortunate to have a wonderful team, and after just 4 months, my daughter graduated from her band with a much rounder head – though I still see her unique head shape when her hair is soaking wet. That said, it’s part of who she is, and it’s perfect for her!

I know starting on this path is scary, and my hope is that having an idea what to expect will help. Please post any questions in the comments, and I’d be glad to share my experience!

Are you a parent who has been through cranial remodeling? Please share your experience, as well!

3 thoughts on “7 Things You Need to Know When Your Baby Needs Cranial Remodeling”

  1. Thank you for sharing this! I actually had never heard of this until about a year ago when a woman I worked with had a child that needed cranial remodeling. These are really helpful tips. It can be kind of overwhelming anytime you have to do something out of the ordinary with your child.

  2. alissa4illustration

    I was just talking about this. My nephew from my husband’s side has a very flat head in the back. He’s now in middle school. When he was an itty bitty his parents wouldn’t pick him up a whole lot. They wouldn’t let anyone else pick him up a whole lot. All because he may get spoiled. What?! How can an infant get spoiled? I could see if they were an older baby, but even then…a baby communicates through crying. They need someone to care for them. I kept having to bite my tongue around them. Now he has a flat head for the rest of his life. I know it can happen to any baby, but it really can happen if they don’t get picked up enough.

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