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6 Month Old with Flat Head

My son has a slightly flat head (back right). When looking at him from the front, you can't see any misshappen head at all. It was mentioned to us that me might want to have him wear one of those Doc Band Helmets for 2-3 months. We have been doing stretches recently to help with his tight neck also. He has also just started to roll over to his tummy to sleep at night. I am just trying to figure out if this flat spot will correct itself? It seems like these helmets are a lot of money, and for a minor case-it just doesn't seem necessary. I do not need my kid to have the "perfect" head, I just want to be sure he will be able to fit into hats and sunglasses when he gets older, and that it worn't stand out. Any thoughts or experiences you have would be very helpful. Thanks

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I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but I would suggest taking him to a pediatric chiropractor. I took my daughter (who is now nine months) to see a chiropractor about her lopsided head and the therapy really helped. Chiropractic therapy would probably be very beneficial for his neck as well. If you live in the Plano/Frisco/Allen area then I highly recommend Doctor Melissa Shelton. We really love her! She's wonderful with little babies, and extremely gentle!! I think my little girl was about six months when we first started going and it took a little over a month of going three times a week.

My son, who is now 3 had a very flat head as an infant. We were told by a pediatrician that it would fill out as he got older and it did! He really looks normal and we never used a helmet. I wish you the best!

I don't have personal experience with this, but would highly recommend carrying him in some kind of soft carrier (hostling, wrap, maya wrap). Good for their overall development, anyone can do it (mom, dad, babysitter), also helps with neck control. Plus it's fun to have them so close!

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One of my twins had this issue and my pediatrician reffered us to a chiropractor. The chiropractor was able fix the issue over several appoitments over several weeks. I don't know about all insurances but ours covered it.

We also noticed our DD having flattening of one side of her head also known as Plagiocephaly. She was born with Torticollis a shortening and stiffening of one side of the neck which made her only turn her head to one side. Because of this she had flattening...we didnt notice this until her 2nd month.

We chose to do both PT and the DOC Band. Yes the helmets are expensive $3000 (no ins did not cover due to a clause in our insurance). One side of her face was being pushed forward and this was unexceptable for me!

So we paid the money to offer her the best start in life! The older they get the harder it is to fix it and at six months your pushing it. Since you have a son it might be more noticiable due to short hair if you dont get it fixed.

http://www.cranialtech.com/ does offer a Care Credit card that you can apply for to help pay for the band. So we ended up only having to pay $500 cash at the time and the rest went on the card to pay off.

It was worth every penny!!!!! She does have a little flattening on the back of the head but only I would notice it. Her face and head looks perfect.

I say get the helmet!

I just read a couple of your responses so far. My sister, who has 5 kids, always says those carseat/carriers will flatten the back of a baby's head, because of the way they sit in them. Is he in his carrier or swing a lot? That may be what caused it. You should get a second opinion before you do that helmet, that sounds painful.

I agree that you should consult with a dr, but it is a very personal and very difficult choice. My girl twins were diagnosed with flat heads, and we went to specialists to discuss the helmets. For me it was not the cost that kept me from getting the helmets, it was the idea of torturing the children by making them wear that awful thing 23 hours per day. Our dr told us that much of the reason our daughters' heads were flat was the way that we lay them in the cribs and in their little bouncy chairs; too long on one side caused the flat head. In our case, we then started being very conscious about how the children were sitting or sleeping. We took long towels or blankets and rolled them up to support the back and made them lay on their sides; we alternated sides constantly. We got a little "donut" to put under the head to keep pressure off the back of the head when in the bouncy chair. And after the babies could turn on their tummy it got a ton better. The drs we consulted about the helmets said our daughters' heads were about 4 or 5 on the scale of 10, where 10 was the worst. Our girls' heads did get better without the helmet, though it took a lot of work to be sure they were never on one side too long. You might want to go ahead and consult with the specialists that would actually recommend whether you would get the helmets; that would probably help you make the decision. Feel free to email me with questions.

Does he have tortacolis too, with the stiff neck? Are you getting help from ECI Early Childhood Intervention? The flatness is due to not enough tummy time and being in a swing and or carseat carrer and because of the back to sleep in the crib. It can round out but you may need to do special things like not putting him in the swings or boncys and having him on the floor more on his tummy, and laying him on his sides instead of back. I would say talk to ECI, if your not already.HTH

you need to ask your son's MD--depends on how flat the head is but if a cranial shaping helmet is necessary than it needs to be done before age 12 months and ideally before 9 months. insurance should pay. there is a clinic that does the helmet at Children's and also one off of Hillcrest at 635.

v

We are going through the same thing right now. My 5 1/2 month old has been going through therapy for his neck for about a month now. His head is slanted on the back/flat on one side of the back. I can't decide if there has been any change in his head or not. We are looking into the band, but we're not sure about it either. I don't want to not do it and regret it later, but our doctor keeps telling us "it's totally cosmetic. it's up to you." Will try to update you on what we decide and why.

That is very common to see especially when your child has torticolus (tight neck). This is because your child prefers one position to lay because of his neck. Like all the other posters said, the key thing to do is to try to get your child to lay in different postions. This will be harder for you than others that don't have the neck tightening. But the good news is that you have been working on stretching the neck. The doctor can tell you how flat your child's head is and how hard or easy it would be to correct at home with positioning. I have seen many cases with children like your son that didn't need the helmet and one was not recommended by the doctor. I have also seen others that did. Babies adapt very well to the helmet and usually can sleep and play just fine with it on. Either way, you will be fine. I recommend checking with a doctor and weighing your options. Good luck. You obviously are a wonderful mom to your son.

One of my twin boys is currently wearing one and is possibly going to have to have a second. He had a severe case of torticollis (his right ear basically rested on his shoulder), which we had to get him into physical therapy and do stretches with him. His head was also misshapen and ears out of alignment. His head has done really well so far, he just may need some more time. Anyhow, you are correct, they are expensive and isn't always covered by insurance. I would definitely talk to you ped. and get his/her opinion. Then you can always take him in to Cranial Technologies for a consult (which is free). They are very honest and won't take on your son if they think his head could correct w/o treatment. The earlier you get him in one if needed, the better the result will be. It is a tough decision (we are wrestling with the possibility of a 2nd helmet), just be sure to get as many opinions/info. as possible because this isn't something you can go back fix later. Good luck!

have you consulted your doctor? my nephews head was slightly flat & my sister didnt want him to have to get a helmet & thought it would correct itself but it got worse & she eventually had to get him one. i would consult a dr & have his head scanned they can tell you how severe it is & what they reccommend, it's better to have it corrected at an early age than to wait.

I don't have personal experience with this, but would highly recommend carrying him in some kind of soft carrier (hostling, wrap, maya wrap). Good for their overall development, anyone can do it (mom, dad, babysitter), also helps with neck control. Plus it's fun to have them so close!

Hi S.,

My daughter did wear the DOC band for 7 weeks starting at 5 1/2 months of age. She had torticolis as the result of being breach and wedged up under my ribs during pregnancy. We did the helmet and started neck stretches at the same time. My sister-in-law is a pediatrician and she said the misshape would correct itself as soon as she started sitting up. We did not take her advise since she had not seen her since she was 2 weeks old and did not see how severe her condition was. You could see clearly see that one ear was pushed forward more than the other by at least an inch. If your son's condition isn't severe, it may very well correct itself. I would recommend getting a couple of opinions. We didn't want to wait to see if it corrected itself only to find out it was too late to correct if it didn't.

Good luck.

Hi S.,

My son had a similar problem with a flat spot on the back of his head. We went to two specialist to get opinions, costs, etc and decided to go ahead with the helmet. My son had fantastic results and I have never regreted the decision even though my insurance never covered the device. I just kept thinking that being a boy he may want a really short haircut one day and I just wanted him to be confident with his appearance. All that being said it is a very personal decision and one that if you decide to do you have to commit to having that helmet on 23 hours a day for some time frame. It is really only effective if you follow instructions exactly as they are given. I would also receommend Hanger Prosthetics for the device. My cost through them was $1600 in comparison to the $3000 that cranial technologies quoted us. They also use a computer to scan the babies head so that you don't have to try and keep him still in a plaster mold. Dr Steve at the plano location next to the Medical Center of Plano was great.

Best of luck,
L.

My son wore a DOC band for two months and it helped tremendously. Have you had the free evaluation from Cranial Technologies yet? I found that the staff there were very honest and didn't push us into the decision. My son also didn't have any issues with it and slept just fine and never seemed at all uncomfortable with it. There is also a great group on YahooGroups (Plagiocephaly) that you can post a question like this and people with give you their expereinces, good and bad. As for cost, my insurance didn't cover it, but it did go to the deductible and they worked out a deal with CT, so we basically got a discount. It is worth looking into how much it would actually cost you rather than just looking as the quoted price.

It may make a big difference to your child later in life. It can be inconvenient but this is the only opportunity your child will have to correct this completely correctable problem. Why not give your child every possible advantage on every front? Life can be hard enough without having to go through it with a flat head your Mama could have fixed.

Our son also had a slight case of this, but his was in the front of his head. We had 3 appointments with the doc band specialists and now he is no longer a candidate for a band! We put him in a positioner at night to sleep him on the opposite side and it worked. Repositioning really does work, although our son was a few months younger in the positioner. He is also now rolling over to sleep on his tummy at night. I know how hard it can be to make the right decision because we went back and forth so many times. I hope this helps as I know we did not want our son to have to wear the band and for such slight cases it is a lot of money.

I did the helmet with my first baby b/c her head was pretty bad. We were very happy that we did it because her head looks really great. Our insurance paid 95% of the cost; however, we had to go through hoops to finally get paid. It is better if you start the process earlier rather than later; you have more opportunity to have the problem corrected. We started around 5 months; and she did not have to go into a second helmet. My husband and I read a lot about the process before making a decision. There is a clinical study that you could request of your pediatrician or Cranial Tech. We found it online. Really you don't know if the problem will correct itself or not. It really depends on the child. We waited in the hopes that it would; then finally decided to do it b/c it was getting worse not better. You could take the chance and not do it; then find that by the time his hair grows in it looks okay. However, I have spoken to parents that wish they had done it. There is no 100%; you just have to go with your gut decision. I do think b/c my child is a girl I felt more compelled to do something. I didn't want her to ask me when she turned 14 why I didn't correct her head. I will tell you that you have to be committed 100% to the process in order for it to work. They have to wear the helmet 24 hours a day except for bathing. Also, it has to be cleaned everyday to prevent bacteria from growing. Unfortunately, my daughter had to wear it over the summer and fall months. It was a bummer b/c it was her first year;I was so excited about putting her in hats. Unfortunately, that year her hat was the helmet!! Good luck.

I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but I would suggest taking him to a pediatric chiropractor. I took my daughter (who is now nine months) to see a chiropractor about her lopsided head and the therapy really helped. Chiropractic therapy would probably be very beneficial for his neck as well. If you live in the Plano/Frisco/Allen area then I highly recommend Doctor Melissa Shelton. We really love her! She's wonderful with little babies, and extremely gentle!! I think my little girl was about six months when we first started going and it took a little over a month of going three times a week.

he might need a helmet....ask your pediatrician.

A cranial sacral therapist is the best source of help for your son. Keep him on his tummy as much as possible and please watch for developmental milestones.

www.parentswithpurpose.com

My daughter had the exact same problem at the same age. We opted to do the stretches (for mild torticollis) as well. She is now almost 3 years old and with hair now, you can't see any flatness. However, it did not completely resolve. If you are not concerned with his head being perfect, than it is probably okay to continue with the stretches, rotating his sleep positions and encouraging tummy time.

My daughter had both the neck problem and the flat heat in the back. We went through cranial technologies and she had two DOC bands. When we would take them off she would try to put them back on. The worst part was the neck stretches for the tight neck. I definitely recommend the DOC band. The older they get the harder it is to correct.

Hi S.,

I practiced as a pediatric Physical Therapist before staying home with my children, and I have worked with many children with torticollis and plagiocephaly, with and without DOC bands. I would just like to second what most moms have already said...the sooner the better if you choose to go with a band. The positioning is extremely important, but sometimes just not enough. I worked primarily with Cranial Technologies and I found them to be fair and honest. When I dealt with them, the evaluations were done by physical and occupational therapists, so they can also help determine the extent of the issue. For instance, is it simply plagiocephaly or is it torticollis as well? It can't hurt to have him evaluated and you'll feel better about your options!

My recommendation besides talking to your pediatrician is to purchase one of these pillows:

http://www.amazon.com/Boppy-Noggin-Next-Support-Denim/dp/...

My daughter was born with a bit of a flatter head (we found out it's not uncommon in multiples for that to happen), but around 2.5 / 3 months old, it became more pronounced. Before worrying about whether or not it would get worse, we researched ways of trying to correct it (besides tummy time) and found this pillow.

I started using it a month ago anywhere she lays down -- swing, the bassinet in her playpen -- and I have to admit there is a marked improvement in the shape of her head. I even told the pediatrician about it and she said to keep using it if we notice this big a difference.

Try this pillow first before moving onto more expensive methods of correction (unless, of course, your doctor says otherwise).

Good luck!

If you were told by your doctor that he should wear one of those helmets, then you should probably do that. You don't want him to be made fun of when he gets older.

My son had a DOC band from 9-11 mo. old. He had a bulge on one side of his forehead, a pushed in spot on the back side of his head and his ears weren't even ... labeled moderate. He did great with his band and I don't think he realized it was there. I would definately not say he was "tortured"! We are so thankful that we decided to do the treatment even though it was expensive. He always has his hair cut really short and his head being mis-shaped would be very obvious now.
I think it all depends on how it looks now and if you think your child would be happy with that shape when they are older. Good luck.

The first few months, when baby's head is still (soft) so to speak , if it lays on one side or one position too much it will do this. Has he laid a lot and espicallly on one side? If so you may just try and turn him over a lot, every time you notice him laying on that side.

Our son also had a slight flat head. We took him to cranium technologies and gave us some stretches to do and said that it wasn't too bad and through streches and repositioning at night time it should correct itself. And it pretty much has. He is now almost a year old and it is hardly noticable now. At six months he started to sleep on his stomach, this helps alot.

I would recommend going to Cranium Technologies, the first visit is free and they were really helpful and weren't pushing about selling the band, which is very expensive and insurance doesn't cover much of it. I think you should do whatever is necessary for your children, but that doesn't mean you have to do everything the doctors instruct you to do. The best advice is to follow your insincts. Hope this helps!

One of my twins had a slightly flat head at his 6 month check up. The dr. said if it didn't get better he would refer us to see about a helmet. I just tried to turn him/sit him on the opposite side and it got a little bit better. Now he is 15 mos and you would never know unless you were looking for it. As soon as he learned to sit up and his hair grew a little, it went away.

My son had a very slightly flat head on the back left. It went away on it's own, but I think I figured out the cause and made it go away. My right breast was the one with more milk, so he would nurse on that side longer with the flat side of his head on my bony arm! So I started puting a pillow between his head and my arm and it went away. The Pediatrician never mentioned it again.

Two of my friends have had children who had to wear the helmet. You could try some of these other techniques but, if your child's head does not show significant improvement over the next couple of months, I would not delay in using the helmet. Both of my friends told me that the docs said if their child's head was left the way it is, it could damage their brains as they grow. So, evidently it's not just all about how the child looks. Hope this helps!

I've read some of these responses and it seems like most people recommend the helmet. My son has a flat head in the back. My husband and I were told about the helmet but were also told it was not medically necessary. We decided not to do the helmet since there was no medical reason only cosmetic. Our son is three years old now and when he has a short hair cut you can kind of tell, otherwise it is harder to tell. We made the personal decision not to because of there being no medical reason for our child to have it done. I definitely think it is a personal decision.

It's great to hear that you're not so wrapped up into doing everything a doctor would say that you actually consider other options. I'd say hold that little one as much as you possibly can- wear him around in a wrap! That way he's rarely on the back of his head. Keep up the great work!

My son, who is now 3 had a very flat head as an infant. We were told by a pediatrician that it would fill out as he got older and it did! He really looks normal and we never used a helmet. I wish you the best!

S.,
My son also hat a bit of a flat spot on the back of his head around 6 months. We immediately started more tummy time, changing the position we put him to sleep, alternating sides that we laid him down on, etc. We went to several cranial helmet specialists, but after 9-months of our efforts, his head had made such improvement that the helmet was no longer recommended. In my son's case, his flatness was on the brink, so we were fortunate. Also, during this 9-month period, our insurance company denied paying for the helmet citing every lame excuse in the book to not pay. Good luck if you choose to file for insurance.

S.,

My daughter had a strangely shaped head. There was a bulge on her back right. I went to two band companies and decided to let nature take care of it. She is now 18 months old and beautiful. I think her head has filled out nicely since taking her to the band places at nine months. She has lots of hair which may help her, but she did improve anyway. Good luck! E.

Hey there-
M. son had asymmetry to his head around 4 months. I used to swaddle him and lay him on his side to sleep and he developed flatness on one side. The doc at his 3 month visit said to get a band to fix that because later on in life he would have problems with wearing helmets in sports, have to get special glasses because ultimately, their ears are not balanced either and it goes much further than just a flat head. We ended up going to Star Cranial in Dallas- the BEST experience EVER! I highly recommend it. It took one month for the insurance to approve it and he only wore it for 3 months. If you think about it, that is such a short time for something last will last a lifetime. If you have any questions, email M..

Check with a doctor and change his positions as often as you can. My little guy had a case of it because of nursing lying down and favoring one side. I had to switch sides more often to even his head out. it did improve. Pay attention to when he is on that side, and try to support his body to go the other direction. Good luck!

Hi S.,
My daughter had a little of flat head on her right side too. I noticied the flat head when she was 5-1/2 months. On her 6 mo. check up the Dr. referred me to a Pediatric Neuro-surgeon. He said said that sometimes one of the sides of their head will seal sooner that the other one, so he referred me to the specialist. I was glad to hear from the specialist that the flat head was normal on them and if I wanted to have the helmet the insurance will not cover it. Around the same time I noticed her mattress was kind of hard and decided to put her on a big memory foam pillow (I know they don't recommend it) because she used to suffer from GERD. Since I have been putting her on the pillow the GERD and her head have improved dramatically. So, my recommendation is if the flat head is not something very obvious then try to find the source.

My son wore a helmet from 7 mths to his first birthday. It was not torture for him...in fact he hardly noticed. We had a very postitive experience with the STAR clinic in Dallas, and our insurance covered the entire cost. His head is not perfect, but is much improved.

My sister had a similar problem with her son. I was so worried about him because his head looked so misshapen to me. The doctors had told her that it would be fine and his head would be normal. I didn't believe it.
He's three now, and you would have never guessed that at a year old, he had a problem. He's perfectly normal, and he never wore a helmet.

I am an Occupational Therapist that works with young kids. It sounds like your son has a tight neck, which may be Torticollis. Torticollis is like a muscle spasm in the neck that can gradually get worse until it relaxes and be massaged/stretched back out. Sometimes it takes therapy to help this happen. ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) can do an evaluation at no cost to you, or you can go to a therapy clinic and have him evaluated for his tight neck. They can teach you proper techniques for stretching and positioning and anything else you need to do to get his neck relaxed again. They can also give you an educated opinion about the severity of his head shape and based on how you have been positioning so far, is it likely to change just by changing his position and stretching his neck.

If you are going to do the helmet, the sooner the better! It is possible, but much harder and takes longer to make changes after they are 1 yr. When making a decision, think about how his head will look when he is older with different hair styles - will it look OK short/buzzed (if that is the fashion of the time or if he later wants to go into the military) or does he have to keep it a little longer to hide the shape. Hangar Orthotics does free evaluations and from my experience (with kids I treat going to get evaluated) they give honest feedback and do not always recommend a helmet if it is not needed. Cranial Technologies is another place that makes helmets. I think they also do free evaluations, but I have not had quite as much experience with them.

My son had the Doc Band helmet and it does not hurt them at all. In fact it is very light and he hardly noticed it. This is more than just a cosmetic issue, it can also affect the development of his brain that is trying to grow in that area. Our insurance covered about half the cost and we did the Care Credit that allows you to pay over time with no interest. We went to Cranio Tech on Hillcrest and 635. The people there are very nice and helpful. I would strongly recommend taking your son there as soon as possible so that he won't have to wear the helmet as long.

My daughter has the same problem on the back right side. We had her fitted for a helmet after repositioning her and everything else. The problem is wearing sunglasses and dental work and vision problems and ear problems. With in two weeks of wearing her helmet that is when I noticed that the problem was worse than I origanlly thought. Her head was looking very good and it made me feel wonderful. She is due to get it off Thanksgiving Day and the following week we go back for pitures. They said we will get side by side pics of before and after to really see. I dont need that to know it worked but it will be really cool. It may not be totally nessasary for your baby but it may really be worth it in the long run. It really is not that much trouble for baby. It never really bothered her.

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