“It looks like your baby has a flat spot on his head,” the doctor said, as I laughed him off inside. (My baby? I don’t think so, Doc. If you haven’t noticed in these first eight weeks, my baby is perfect.)
“Let’s wait four more weeks before we decide if he should be fitted for a cranial band, he continued. (Gasp. What did he just say?)
The doctor handed me some pamphlets featuring little cute babies in helmets and explained that “flat head syndrome,” technically known as plagiocephaly, can occur simply because the baby lived in a restrictive intrauterine environment, or from lying on the back of their head too often soon after birth. Um, no to the latter. I’ve held that child every second since birth and inhaled his soul into mine on the reg. There is no lack-of-baby-holding going on in my house. So, thanks, womb.
I headed off to my car to cry. The next 24 hours were a rush of Google searches, parenting blog hopping, and more tears. Four long weeks later, after visiting several specialists and trying every “natural head repositioning” trick in the book, my baby did get fitted for a cranial band, or as I refer to it, a helmet (or HELLmet). He wore his helmet for twelve weeks, and I cried for approximately four of them. But I don’t regret the decision for a moment. If your baby needs a helmet, here are five reasons you’ll both survive:
1. Your baby doesn’t give a fuck.
Yes, your baby will notice the first time they get fitted for the band. Depending on their age, there may be some tears and efforts to remove it. Your heart will break, and you’ll want to help them rip it off. You will hate the technician fitting them because even though you made the choice, the technician is actually carrying out your decision. That asshole.
You will glare at the helmet every day in disgust when you take it off your child’s head for a cleaning — not just because you hate it, but because it’s actually sweaty and smelly too. You might even take it off more than recommended because you feel bad for your baby. This too shall pass. Remember, the more often your baby wears it, the sooner they’ll be done wearing it — meaning, the sooner you can burn that helmet in a bonfire and emotionally move on.
2. It’s so common.
Don’t feel alone in this, parents. There are tons of people to talk to about plagiocephaly. Seriously, in today’s world, hearing “my kid needs a helmet” is just as common as hearing “the weather is brutal out there” and “there aren’t enough hours in a day.” There are online stores and people who make a living strictly off of decorating the helmets. There are support groups for parents — tons of them. Facebook moms group members are there for you and will even show you before and after photos of their kids. In the words of Michael Jackson, “You are not alone.”
3. Time will fly by.
Do you remember the moment you found out you were having a baby? Probably feels like forever ago, right? So will the first helmet fitting. It might not feel like the actual helmet-wearing days are flying, but like all things child-related, you blink, and they’re over. Even though that helmet is getting in the way of your intimate baby cuddling sessions and you curse its existence daily, it’ll be over before you know it.
4. You will be more educated and therefore less judgmental.
Admit it, the first time you saw a baby in a helmet, you stared. You thought about asking the parent what was wrong with the baby. Had he been in an accident? If so, why does he look so happy? Unless you Googled immediately, in time you’ve learned many of the bands you see are simply cosmetic healers. The parents of those babies wearing helmets are (most likely) choosing to fix their babies’ head shapes while they are tiny and have no idea what’s going on anyway. So now you know. Let’s move on and keep our eyes on our own spawn, mmk?
5. You made the best choice for your baby.
You probably already did everything recommended by a doctor to avoid the helmet — holding the baby more (please), sneaking into their crib every hour, and turning their head to the side, massage, reiki, voodoo, essential oils — and nothing worked. You did your best. Now it’s time to give in and fix your baby’s flat spot in a doctor-recommended way. So go for it, and don’t look back. Your baby and their perfectly round head will thank you one day.