Should my baby use a helmet for his flat head?
A pediatric neurologist recommended our son wear a helmet for his flat head, but I've heard that the condition can correct itself. What should we do?
Submitted by Team

It's not surprising that you've heard dissenting opinions, since there's some controversy surrounding the use of helmets to treat positional plagiocephaly (also known as flattened head syndrome). Babies' skulls are naturally soft to allow their brains to grow, but this leaves their heads vulnerable to being molded when they lie in the same position for long periods. Because it's now recommended that babies sleep on their backs (this can significantly reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS), the number of babies developing flattened head syndrome is definitely on the rise -- but positional plagiocephaly is easy to treat and is usually corrected by the time a baby turns 1.

Whether or not you decide to use a helmet should depend largely on your child's age and the severity of the problem. For babies under 6 months, the condition will often correct itself with 30 minutes of tummy time each day for a few months; this keeps your baby out of the position that's causing the misshapenness. (It's important that you continue to put your baby to sleep on his back, although your doctor may encourage you to gently reposition his head once he's lying down.) For babies older than 6 months and those with very severe cases, wearing a helmet may be useful. It can often correct the problem quickly and does not cause any harm to the child.

The helmets are usually made of plastic and look a lot like a kid's bicycle helmet. Depending on his condition, your baby may wear the helmet for a month or two to as long as six months. Most doctors will instruct you to leave the helmet on for 23 hours each day, removing it only for bathtime. Although this may seem like a lot, the problem will be corrected much faster if you follow instructions. Most babies are not bothered by the helmet and easily adapt to wearing it.

Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.

Answered by Team
Community Answers (4)

We used the Lazy Lambert ErgoPillow for our baby, and it definitely helped to shape his head. I guess it depends on the severity of the case, whether or not a helmet is necessary. There are helmets out there that are made with extra care for cuteness. Hopefully you have a doctor you trust, and you can take his or her advice without confidence.
Submitted by mhammerarbeit

my cousin has a bay boy with Down's and he had asymmetric and flat head, they used helmet 23hrs a day of 24.. and his head shape is perfect now. I remember they used to go to spec lab to reshape it (in Czech rep) as his head was growing few times. He was 9m when they started.
Submitted by x743834

my baby has plagiocephaly from the first months,now he is almost 6 months and the flat side is not corrected by itself despite the efforts of the physiotherapist then we decide to use the il is not guaranteed that those under 6 months recover naturally.
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