When my daughter, Piper, was born, I was handed a beautiful baby with a slightly wonky-shaped head. I was told that she would outgrow it and that almost all babies who are born “naturally” have a bit of a funny shape to their head.
Fast forward to her one-month check-up and her pediatrician mentioned that she had a flat spot on her head, but as long as we kept up with the prescribed amount of tummy time, it should naturally correct itself.
Guess what? It didn’t. And at her 6-month check-up she was referred to an orthotics specialist to see if she should be evaluated for a cranial reshaping helmet…and then I lost my $#*!.
The mom guilt was so strong. So, so strong. I had all kinds of questions – What could I have done to prevent this? Did she not do enough tummy time? For the record, Piper hated tummy time and sounded like she was being murdered every time she did it, so I did the bare minimum recommended amount, because my heart and new Mom nerves couldn’t take it. But maybe that was bad. And seriously, why didn’t I make her do more? And did her Rock N’ Play give her a flat spot? And on and on and on…oh my gosh.
And then there were more questions. Some were selfish: Will everyone think I’m a bad mom? Will people think I just left my kid on her back in her crib for the first 6 months of her life? Some were really worrisome: Will the helmet make Piper unhappy? Will it affect her development?
I did a ton of research to see if a cranial reshaping helmet was right for Piper. I read more about plagiocephaly (the official medical term for a baby with a flat head) than I ever cared to. A large majority of doctors think that growing into adulthood with a flat spot on one’s head will not have any long-term health effects. However, a few studies suggested that not fixing a flat spot could lead to a kid having vision problems or headaches in the future. I also thought about the fact that I have no idea what kind of person Piper will be or what her style will be as she gets older. What if she wants to style her hair in a pink buzz cut someday? Would her flat spot prevent her from being able to do that?
After a few head scans and fights with the insurance company, Piper got her helmet. It came with the instructions that she had to wear it 23 hours per day. And there were so many tears…but only from me. She was totally unaffected by the whole experience. It may be coincidence, but she actually started sleeping through the night once she got her helmet. And she totally loves it. Like, really, really loves it. Like, loves it so much, that if I take it off her, she immediately snuggles with it. No joke.
I also decided that this experience was the first opportunity we had to teach Piper to roll with the challenges that life throws at you. So, while I wasn’t excited by the helmet, I asked my sister-in-law to make a ton of great t-shirts for Piper and I ended up decorating the helmet with watermelons (the perfect Summer look). I had no idea how many companies cater to helmet babies. You can buy decals, bows, t-shirts and all kinds of cute accessories (I got Piper’s helmet decals from here).
And you know what else I learned? It’s temporary. Her time in her helmet is coming to a close soon and it passed by in the blink of an eye. She has a nice, round noggin now and she’s adorable as ever. The doctors assured me that there was very little I could have done to prevent her flat spot, and I choose to believe them. Because the mom guilt? It’s just not worth it…