baby helmet

What Parent’s Need To Know About A Baby Helmet

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My four month old son was diagnosed with Torticollis and Plagiocephaly. It sounds way scarier than what it is. Essentially he has a misshapen head and a large flat spot or indent on the back of his head (plageocephally) or baby flat head syndrome. His neck is also very tight on one side (Torticollis) which means he has a limited range of motion causing a slight tilt and preference to lean to one side. For the past two months, my son has been rounding out his head with the help of a baby helmet. My hope is this article can help ease the uncertainty for parents who are just beginning their helmet journey.

*This article may contain affiliate links. Please read over my privacy and disclosure statement for more information.

Why Do Babies Need Helmets?

The baby helmet is used to reshape and remold a baby’s head to become more rounded and symmetrical. The process is simple and straightforward. Wear the helmet 23 hours a day and the reshaping should take 3-4 months.

Lots of people have misconceptions about what causes flat head syndrome in babies. Infants typically aren’t in helmets because they are banging their head against the crib. There is typically nothing wrong mentally with babies in helmets. It doesn’t mean that their parents didn’t hold them enough or they were in their carseat for too long. Many people are ignorant to what a helmet is and does, while others totally get it!

Sad About A Baby Helmet?

It’s totally normal to feel sad about your baby wearing the helmet, but I promise that it will effect you more than it will them.

Would you be feeling the same sadness if your Dentist told you that your child needed braces on their teeth? Wearing a helmet is really no different than a child needing braces. The main difference is that someone whose parents never corrected their crooked teeth can decide later on in life if they wanted to get braces. Children who need helmets don’t have that option should their head never reshape on their own.

There is a chance that children who have flat spots or misshapen heads will naturally correct itself by age five. There is also a chance that it won’t. The helmet is almost a guaranteed method of reshaping and rounding out your child’s head in a very short period of time.

Aside from cosmetic issues, there are possible long term effects if a child is not helmeted. Not helmeting can result in increased issues such as motor delays, vision issues, balance problems and facial asymmetry according to this article

12 Things To Remember About A Baby Helmet

If you have made the choice or are trying to decide if a helmet is the best option for your child, here is some advice and things I wish I knew about a cranial helmet and some hacks to help you along your helmeting journey.

Things To Remember When Baby Is In a Helmet. Helpful Tips for Surviving babies time in helmet due to a flat spot on babies head.

1. Getting a Helmet Is Time Sensitive-Follow Your Gut EARLY!

My son will be in the helmet for 3-4 months because it was not properly evaluated until he was almost 6 months old. If I would have been persistent with my pediatrician he may have only needed to be in a helmet for 4-8 weeks at the most. The helmet works alongside growth spurts . As the child gets older, the less growth spurts you have to work with. You CAN get a baby helmet put on all the way up until they are 1 year old, however, the older they are when helmeted, the longer amount of time they will need to be in a cranial helmet.

2. It Is NOT Your Fault!

It’s easy to question yourself and wonder if it’s your fault? Did I not hold them enough? Were they in the car seat too often and this is why my babies head is flat? Don’t spend all night googling Rock-and-play flat head, and wondering if you shouldn’t have let them nap in there, because it will be enough to drive you crazy. Plagiocephaly can sometimes happen because of the positioning in the womb.  These things just happen. Don’t beat yourself up. All you can do is move forward.

3. Be Persistent With Insurance

Helmets can be very costly and many times insurance companies will not pick up the cost. Make sure your orthosis’ office helps in filling out the appropriate paperwork. If your insurance denies your claim, see if your pediatrician or neurologist’s office will also submit paperwork.  At first our insurance would not cover the cost until we filed an appeal. Out of pocket cost of a helmet can be upwards of $4000.  Many offices will offer payment plans should your insurance deny you.

4. Can You Prevent A Flat Head On Baby?

There are many options that could help prevent flatness or severity. Discuss options with your doctor such as Physical therapy. This is especially important if your child has Torticollis. I’m convinced that if we would have started physical therapy early, helmeting may have been prevented. We did not start until our son was nearly 4 months old.

baby flat head pillow

They make a device called elephant ears. Check with your pediatrician but these ears can help alleviate pressure on the head and may reduce the risk of flatness while in bouncer seats, car seats, etc. I really WISH I would have know about these way sooner.

Consider a baby pillow for use when baby has to be on their back (again check with pediatrician to make sure these items can be used.) 

Start tummy time as early as possible to help prevent flatness.  It’s extremely important to place your child on their tummies as often as possible to prevent them from lying on their head. As the baby gets older, use a boppy pillow and prop them up on their tummies.

There is NOT an alternative to reshaping or re-molding a child’s head effectively and speedily without using a helmet. Time does help and in many cases depending on severity the flat spot may resolve itself.

5. Baby Helmets Smell

Your child will be in a helmet for 23 hours a day. When you pop that thing off, their poor little heads will smell like sweaty gym socks. The helmet needs to be properly cleaned while it’s off. Rubbing alcohol is what most orthotists recommend. We used alcohol wipes (you can find them in your medicine aisle) which were easy and convenient and nice to travel with.

6. Outfit Changes Are Hard

At this age between messy meals, diaper blowouts, and endless teething drool, changing clothes happens often. The helmet is really bulky and I don’t love popping it off every time we have to change clothes. Buy onesies/outfits that you can easily pull on from their legs up or open wide so you can put them over the helmet. I really like these types of onesies as they can be put on from the bottom up.

7. Your Child Will Thank You

Remember that analogy I had about Braces and a helmet at the beginning of this article? I HATED wearing my braces, but now that I am adult I thank my mom often for making me get them in those awkward teen years. As long as you follow the orthotists’ steps the helmet will be a temporary period of your child’s life. Chances are your child will never ever remember the time in the helmet except for the cool pictures you show them later in life. They will thank you that their baseball cap fits evenly, and they did not end up having vision or hearing problems later on in life.

8. People May Stare

Before I had children, I was ignorant and had no idea the purpose of the helmet. The more and more people become educated the less invasive questions you’ll get in public. I have been extremely surprised by how supportive strangers have been and how they have wanted to share stories about children they know in helmets. I’ve mostly gotten “Why isn’t it decorated, yet” or “Oh my gosh look at that little cutie, my granddaughter wore a helmet too!”

9. Find Support

There are TONS of Facebook groups out there that offer support. It’s nice to connect with parents who are going through the same thing. It’s also a fantastic real time resource if you have questions or want to share your story.

10. It’s Harder On You

I promise the entire journey will be harder on you than it is on them.  My son has been completely unbothered by the helmet. I’m confident that besides the embarrassing pictures I force him to take with his sister, he will never remember the time in his helmet.

11. Embrace The Helmet

My biggest regret is that we went with plain white for his helmet. I had every intention of getting these cute stickers from Etsy to decorate the helmet but never executed the plan. If you have a girl they make the CUTEST helmet bows I have ever seen.  Also in order to get the whole family involved, I bought my older toddler daughter a helmet of her own that she could wear to show support for her brother. Embrace the helmet in every way you can. 

12. Celebrate When It’s Over

The time your child in a helmet will go much faster than you think. When the doctor gives you the go ahead to take the helmet off, celebrate with a party! I’ve seen so many babies in my Helmet Facebook group celebrating with balloons and a diploma. 

So Now What?

You will move on with life. Things will go on as normal. Your child’s head will become more rounded. The Helmet will be off before you know it. It will all be over faster than you think!

If you have questions or want to share your child’s experience with a a cranial helmet please let us know in the comments. For more information check out Starband Kids for the specific helmet we used.

Does your baby have a flat spot? What to know about baby helmets
My Biggest Regret about my son's baby helmet (#11)Flat Spot on Babies Head? Is there anything you can do to help prevent a flat spot and not have to get a helmet? Check out #4 and learn more tips about time in baby helmet.Flat Spot on Babies Head? Is there anything you can do to help prevent a flat spot and not have to get a helmet? Check out #4 and learn more tips about time in baby helmet.

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  1. I love this! I haven’t had a baby who needed a helmet, but I always thought they were adorable. I can’t even imagine why anyone would be judgmental about it…all babies have their own struggles. It would be like someone being judgmental about a baby with Jaundice. Ugh, people.

    This is such a helpful and encouraging post, I love it!

  2. This is such an interesting post,I I’ve never actually seen a child wearing a helmet and definitely not aware of the possible reasons for it. I’ve definitely learnt something from this, thank you x

  3. Aww too cute! It must be frustrating as a parent to have your baby in it but at least it’s adorable. I love the points you made and especially the one where it is not your fault. Too often as moms we put the blame on ourselves and we need to stop it!

  4. My preemies have flat heads. For a variety of reasons we opted not to do a helmet. Primarily because it was the opinion of their neonatologist that their flat head would resolve with age or be of a type that did not impact their life other than cosmetically. And as the grew through their first year it was dramatic how much it changed. One of my guys still has a flat spot but if you didn’t know it you’d never know it. He’s gonna have more problems with his bald spot from in utero.

  5. This is very interesting! Such a great post to share! I dont have kids yet but will defo keep this in mind for when i do! Really reassuring to kmow there are lots of facebook groups out there for support if needed.

  6. Your son is SO precious! You are completely right about the need to connect with parents who understand your situation and I am glad that there are Facebook support groups that gave you comfort. I will definitely be referring this article to anyone I come across who may need it. Thanks for being willing to share Ü

  7. This is such a fantastic post!! Thank you so much for sharing your personal journey and all of these great tips!!

    I held my baby ALL the time. But one day I realized the side of his head was a little flat bc I almost always held him in my left arm. I thought we’d have to get a helmet but it reshaped on its own once I switched arms more. 🙂

  8. I love that when you talk about how people may stare, that the comments you get are mostly positive or about decorating the helmet. That gives me faith in humanity.

  9. As a mom who spent 4 months with a little guy in a helmet, it makes me so happy to see a positive article with such clear and objective facts about helmets. I was also lucky to get (mostly) positive comments from strangers, and the negative ones were more from lack of knowledge about the purpose of the helmet than true mean spirit. I think it’s so great that you’re providing this information and spreading some awareness for all the helmeted little babybugs!

    1. Thank you so much for your sweet comment. There can absolutely be negativity out there about helmets, which is what inspired me to write this article. Thanks for stopping by.

      1. I am a grandma of a new baby that is going to be getting a helmet.. thank you for the great information.. I will be watching him every fri and Saturday so it great to know what to expect

  10. We’re a month and a half into our little guy’s helmet and this article is so accurate! I love all of your points, especially that it’s harder on mom than baby. I’ve been amazed by how many people approach us to share their helmet stories!

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. The whole journey goes fast, and the endless head kissed at the end are the best.

  11. This is great information and very important things for parents to know! Your son is SOOOO cute!! My son had the same issue with torticollis and was fit for a helmet as well, although he didn’t end up getting it. There are so many cute ways to decorate the helmet! Thank you for sharing!!

  12. This is great! Thank you so much to write this so we know we are not alone! My other concern is when we also graduate, hopefully by early March, should we buy a pillow made with memory foam to support his head get rouded on it own? Which brand you will recommend the most, thanks.

    1. Thanks so much. I would discuss the pillow with your pediatrician/PT/Orthosis on what their opinions are. Most likely your child will be more mobile, which means less time on their back/head. The pillow in the article is something we used prior to getting our baby helmet, when my son was on his back.

  13. Hi!
    I just found your site while researching more about this. My 6 month old son just got his helmet a few days ago. I couldn’t agree more with all your points. It really has been harder on me than him. He’s doing great so far {Knock on wood} I don’t know anybody else who’s had a child that had to wear a helmet so love reading other stories. Thanks for sharing your + your son’s journey!

    I never even thought to join any Facebook groups. What are some of your favorites?

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments, Veronica. That helmet will be off faster than you think. As far as the Helmet Facebook groups go, in the search bar type in “baby helmets” and several groups should pop up. Everyone is very supportive and it is so nice to have other parents/caregivers who can relate to what you are going through. All the best!

  14. Love this post! I can totally relate to what you went through. My now 9 month old is in her second month on the helmet but she doesn’t mind. She is probably going to wear it for 3-4 months as well because we weren’t referred until she was 6 months. Outfit changes are definitely my biggest gripe about it LOL! The alcohol wipes thing would be so much easier than using a wash cloth with rubbing alcohol! I didn’t think of it till now, so thanks! 🙂

    1. You are so welcome, those alcohol wipes were so convenient when we were traveling or on the go too! Your little will be out of that helmet in no time!

  15. I needed to read this today! My little one is getting her helmet on Monday. I know it’s not my fault but I am feeling extremely sad about having to go through this process. Our pediatrician did the wait and watch approach. She just turned 9 months old and I wish we would have taken care of this sooner. Thank you for writing this post, my mama heart needed it!

    1. It really is sooo much harder on the parents than it is the little one. Totally normal to feel sad, but she will never even remember the time in the helmet AND she will be out of it in no time 🙂 Good luck, you will all do great!

  16. Thanks so much…my daughter just received her helmet on September 11, 2019 and I’m still trying to get her adjusted to the helmet…so many questions…she sweats etc…Im happy it’s a start to correcting her torticollis and plagiocephaly…

  17. Hello!
    Just came across this as I was scrolling through pinterest and i thought I’d share our experience. Our girl had hers put on at 6 months and only had it for 10 weeks since she had a few big growth spurts. I attached a small square of velcro to the front/side and made bows that had velcro backs to attach to the helmet for matching to her outfits. It was super cute!! When cleaning, I found that alcohol didn’t touch the funky smell. I scrubbed that bad boy with unscented baby soap, a little water and a toothbrush… i had to blow dry it a little bit sometimes if i used too much water. This was ok’d by our orthotist and didn’t cause any damage. I found some kimono style onesies on amazon that snap and completely open which made outfit changes much easier. She did great with the helmet and we kinda missed it after we were finished because it kept her from banging her head on things! Lol

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story and your tips!. I remember saying how much I missed the helmet after it came off, because of him constantly bumping his head on everything afterwards too. It really does go very fast!

  18. Thank you for this. I couldn’t help feeling defeated and guilty when leaving her evaluation appointment. My insurance will not cover any costs of the helmet until she is over 4 months old. So we have to go back in a few weeks to get fitted. I don’t know anyone else who’s baby wore a helmet and didn’t even think about joining a support group on social media. My husband is having a hard time accepting that our daughter will be in a helmet soon. His family is a bit harsh in nature and he’s worried about the judgmental comments or pity remarks. I personally don’t care what anyone else thinks. I’m doing what’s best for my baby and everyone else can shove it.

    1. The online groups were so helpful for me. Everyone is going through the same thing, and can help you in real time. Just try and remember the braces on your teeth analogy! You are doing an amazing thing for your baby, and I PROMISE that the time in the helmet will go much quicker than you think. You got this mama!

  19. We are currently in the process of being assessed and getting insurance approval for a helmet for our 6 month old. I am definitely sad that he has to have one but I know I’d be even more upset if we didn’t do anything and he had self image and self esteem issues when he’s older. Not to mention the possibility of bullying! Thank you so much for this post. I will definitely be joining the FB support groups!

    1. Thanks for sharing with us. Your child will thank you later on for getting the helmet, and I promise the time will fly by!

  20. Thank you for your positivity! My baby gets hers the day before she turns 7 months! I’ve been a VERY squeaky wheel at the pediatrician since she was three months old and they wouldn’t do ANYTHING! I was very discouraged and feel very guilty that I couldn’t help her sooner, or that I should have been even more in their face! I’m worried about sleep but I appreciate your positivity because I see lots of negatives!

    Thanks! 🙂

    1. I am sure you asked all the right questions and did everything you possibly could, and look now you are helping her In ways she will appreciate the rest of her life! It may take a few days to get adjusted to sleep, but it did not affect my son in the ways I imagined it would. You GOT this! Best of luck and just keep staying positive, it will be over quickly!

  21. Hi! My daughter just got her helmet off and I’m wondering what I should expect the next few days. Cranial Tech told us to expect some bumps and bruises, but what I’m more concerned about is two spots on her forehead that appear to be chafing- maybe from rubbing against the sheet in the crib while she is sleeping. Did you experience any of this?

    1. Hi Tracy, I do not remember experiencing any of that with my child. Our biggest issue was the helmet helped as he was crawling and bumping around, and we didn’t have the protective helmet in place anymore! I would give them a call if you have any concerns. Congrats on graduation!

      1. Hi there, our son has just finished wearing his helmet and we’re noticing his body temperature drops down low in the night. Did you experience anything like this?

  22. Thank you! Thank you very much!
    My daughter was evaluated at 4 months that she may need one but her head doctor said she did not need it. Today we came back for follow up and he said that she needs one and also the hearing aids. I am very very sad and concerning but as I read your article I feel that I am on the right track. She is starting to roll but not quite rolling yet. She can not sit up yet. But she moves alot. You leave her there and 10 min later you will find her all the way the other side of the room. My husband will be gone for deployment for 9 months and he won’t be here seeing her with her helmet. He will miss it for sure.
    I have another 2 years old and I will definitely buy her another helmet to support her younger sister! I am trying to be positive as much as I can.
    Thank you very much.

    1. Sp happy this article provided a bit of comfort. Just remember that, you got this! I promise the time in the helmet will go much quicker than you think. And I love that you are buying a helmet for your 2 year old (my older daughter loved supporting her brother!)

  23. Thank you SO much for this article. I just found out last week that my little guy is going to need a helmet. So I’ve been struggling with all the feelings that go along with that. This post was exactly what I needed to read right now and has actually made me a bit excited that my son is getting a helmet. Thank you so much for sharing!

  24. I know I am late to the game here since this is such an old post.
    My 4.5 month old just started his helmet, we are currently on Day 3. I knew since he was two months old that he needed it. But we waited and I kick myself because of that. I was okay up until the day he got it. I have cried a lot. I don’t know what is upsetting me. I think just seeing him wear it and he can’t hold his head up completely yet. I feel like he looks helpless, although I know this isn’t the case.
    Anyway, I needed to hear this today. I am in one Facebook group and plan to remain in it. I am just feeling so down. Trying to stay positive.
    Thanks for this post.

  25. I just found your post on Pinterest. THANK YOU so much for all of this. My son gets his helmet next Thursday and I feel mom guilt every day. Feeling like it’s my fault he has a flat head. Your post has given me so much piece of mind.

  26. Great blog post on “What Parents Need To Know About a Baby Helmet”! I wanted to take a moment to appreciate the author for providing such valuable information and raising awareness about the importance of baby helmets.
    The post is written in a clear and concise manner, making it easy to comprehend for both new and experienced parents. The inclusion of practical tips and advice further enhances the usefulness of the piece. It’s evident that the author genuinely cares about the readers and wants to equip them with the necessary knowledge to make informed decisions for their child’s .

  27. My daughter is in a helmet right now! Yes sometimes the she will get abrasions or rug burns on her head. I have had to go back to the clinic a few times to have it adjusted. Which they did very promptly and wete glsd i came sooner than later. The individual suggested I use neosporin or triple antibiotics for the rash on the side of her head which was kind of kike a rug burn.Was also suggested to use corn starch inside the helmet to help allow the head to slide better since she turns her head back and forth alot. My experience is its harder on her then it is on me. But it won’t stop me from this process bc hopefully she won’t remember it and baby skin does heal fast. And I’m sure she will thank me in her future. Bc what kid wants a lop sided head. Just ask as many questions as you need and take them back if you believe it needs adjusted and they will happily do their best to make it right.

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