A few weeks ago we had Demi’s 4 month checkup and our doctor casually mentioned that Demi had a mild flat spot on her head. I immediately freaked out (I’m just that way lol) and asked what that meant? Would she have a deformed head? Did I do something wrong? Was this fixable?! She calmed me down and said it was more common than you’d think. It can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it happens in the womb, sometimes a baby simply favors one side of the head and some babies simply lay too much on their head. I knew it couldn’t be laying down too much, because of all my children, Demi is NEVER laying down. She loves tummy time and I literally carry her 24/7. I started thinking about Demi’s sleeping habits and quickly realized she definitely only slept on her right side. I was horrified! I hadn’t even noticed that I could have, should have been moving her head at night. My doctor was not concerned and said most likely she would have flipped it right back. I felt a little better, but still devastated my little baby might have something wrong : (
My doctor said we could wait it out and try repositioning her ourselves by always laying her on the left and making sure we talked to her from the left so she got used to always turning the other way. I was not ok with trying to fix this on my on, especially if it might not work. She said that many times parents opt to get a doc band (aka helmet) to correct the problem. I was shocked because I literally had no idea that the helmets I often saw were meant to reshape a head. I don’t know what I thought they were for, but now I definitely knew. She gave me the info for a cranial specialist and I obviously called for an appointment as soon as we left the doctors office. We made an appointment for the very next morning, and our adventure began!
During our appointment, we learned more than I ever knew about doc bands and what they are used for. The main two reasons a doc band is used are plagiocehphaly, which means “oblique head” and brachycephaly, where the head is uniformly flattened. Demi was dealing with plagiocehphaly, where her right side is flattened, causing the top right to push upward, as well as her forehead forward. It wasn’t noticeable to anyone who simply looked at her, but pretty obvious once we were shown through 3D pictures.
First the doctor put a fishnet stocking on her head with the face cut out, as you can see in the pictures. This definitely helped point out the flatness of Demi’s head and solidified our decision to come check it out. Next they took quick 3D pictures and we waited while they checked the results.
They took us in to see her pictures and explain the measurements they provided. Basically she had a mild to moderate flat spot and it was up to us to decide if we felt it was necessary to get a helmet.
Again we were told we could take her home and try repositioning on own, but also that it wasn’t likely it would help. They checked her head strength and said she was obviously strong and not lacking tummy time. Flipping her head when she slept would most likely result in her flipping it right back, so not much could be done. Billy and I both were 100% positive we would be getting the helmet and didn’t feel like repositioning at home was an option for us.
The office let us know they would call and check if our insurance covered any costs, and said they would call when they knew. We felt pretty positive we would be covered, since our insurance is great, but sadly, we were very mistaken. They did not cover any costs and it would be completely out of pocket. We still knew this was the right decision and made our appointment to get fitted for the band. Demi’s band was considered cosmetic because her flat spot does not affect her development or anything else. I have heard of insurance covering the band if the child needs physical therapy or the flat spot is very severe.
At the next appointment they put another fishnet cap on Demi, but this time no hole was cut out. She looke so silly and sweet with her little nose all squished up : ) More pictures were taken and we were done! There was a time when they made a mold of babies heads, but technology has greatly improved the process. Thank goodness! I can’t imagine having to cast a mold on those poor little babies!
Exactly one week later, Demi’s helmet was ready and we headed in to put it on! We were told ahead of time that this appointment would last about an hour because they would be fitting the doc band and going over how to take care of the band. When I first saw the band I felt a little sad that our baby was going to be starting this whole process, but also excited that it was happening. The band is SUPER light and completely white. You would think another color might hold up better, but what do I know? Next the doctor showed us how it opened up and fit onto her head. It had a velcro strap on the right side that you don’t pull, but close gently. She had Demi lay on her tummy to see how well it fit against her head and neck. She used a little pencil to mark where she thought it went down too far on her forehead and cheeks and also where it rubbed too much along her neck. She said it would take about 15 minutes to shave it down to size. While we waited Demi did some tummy time and happily played with the toys : )
When the doctor brought it back she put the band back on and checked out the fit again. Already it looked much better. Demi seemed completely oblivious that she had anything on her head which calmed me down, because I was so worried that she would be in pain or uncomfortable.
Next she went over all the cleaning rules and timeframes for wear. Basically the first two days we keep it on 3-4 hours then take off to check for redness. There will always be a little redness because it is pushing against her head, but should not remain that way for any longer than an hour. We were given a sheet to mark if any areas were red for too long and told to call if this happened. Once the two days pass without any worry, we must keep the band on for 23 hours each day! Yes, 23 hours! The hour it’s off is for bathtime and cleaning the band. To clean the band you use rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush to rub it clean on the inside. We have to make sure her hair and the band are completely dry before putting it on again. It’s also important no lotion or hair product (who uses hair product on a baby!?) is put on her head because it will trap moisture in the band.
After that we were all ready to go and set up our next appointments! We have to go in every week to check for progress and make sure everything is going ok. Eventually they spread the appointments out further to a few weeks at a time. We were told that Demi would be wearing the band for about 8 weeks. This could change as time goes on. It totally depends on how fast Demi grows, because you need head growth for the band to work! We are so happy with this office and the care they take to make sure each baby and family is completely happy and comfortable.
As we left the doctors office we talked about what Demi would think about her helmet when she is older. I am going to document all these moments so she knows how special she is and that her cool hat was all part of gods plan : )
Overall with this experience, I was shocked, anxious and scared that our perfect baby girl could have anything wrong with her! Now I am relieved and so thankful for diligent doctors that noticed something was up with our PERFECT little one. I feel so blessed that we were able to afford a doc band for Demi and happy we can get her head shaped correctly.
Next steps are waiting for her decorative wrap to be created and then applied to her doc band! I’m excited to dress it up girly and have something she can wear with pride : ) Stay tuned for our post about where and how we were able to create something so special! While we’re waiting for the wrap to be made, my mom and I plan on decorating the band with some fun stickers and rhinestones!
I hope our story was informative and can help other families dealing with a similar situation! If you would like more info on Doc Bands and why a child would wear one, check out Cranialtech.com!