Throughout Jett’s helmet journey, I got a lot of questions about it so I wanted to share the whole process with you today since he recently graduated from his helmet! He wore the helmet for 4 months in total and we are very pleased with his results. Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor and have tried my best to outline his treatment without being too technical. If you are concerned about your child’s head shape, consult your pediatrician.
WHEN WE NOTICED JETT HAD A FLAT SPOT
Before Jett’s 2 month checkup, Skyler and I had noticed some flatness on the back of Jett’s head. We asked the doctor about it and while she didn’t think it was severe, she suggested that we make an appointment with a specialist and try repositioning therapy in the meantime. We made an appointment immediately at CHOC Children’s and tried to reposition Jett’s head when he was sleeping. We also used a special pillow if he was laying down on his play mat or in the Dock-A-Tot. Jett started sleeping through the night at 6 weeks and would absolutely not move his head to either side. He would only sleep on the back of his head no matter what we tried. I’m sure his sleeping position didn’t help, but after looking through photos recently I noticed that he kind of had a flat spot from the time he was born. This actually made me feel a lot better because this entire time I’ve had mom guilt over his helmet and sort of felt like it was my fault. If you’re feeling this same way, please know that it is not your fault! You are doing the absolute best you can for your baby and if your little one ends up in a helmet, it will all work out!
CRANIAL SPECIALIST APPOINTMENT
We finally got to see a cranial specialist when Jett was 5 months old in October of 2018. Jett’s head was scanned in a 3D scanner (that’s painless and takes two seconds). We learned then that the flatness of his head was very severe. His cephalic ratio was 1.02 (.85 is perfect). The specialist showed us a side by side of Jett’s head and what a “normal” head looked like and the difference was incredible (not to mention heart breaking for me). He was diagnosed with flat head syndrome and the specialist at the Hanger clinic recommended an cranial remolding orthoses helmet. Our hope was to get his measurement down to at least .95.
This is when the battle with our insurance company began. In hindsight, I wish we would’ve just asked about payment plans without insurance from the get go and gotten his helmet even sooner. We wasted a month trying to get his helmet approved by our insurance and we were declined…twice. If you’re on the fence about treatment, I would highly recommend not waiting and doing it as early as possible to achieve the best results. Even though Jett’s results were fantastic, I still feel like they could’ve been even better had we started treatment earlier.
THE HELMET SCAN
A month after his initial scan, we made the decision to get his helmet without insurance. Even though Jett was scanned in his initial appointment with the specialist, they have to have the most up-to-date scan of your child’s head to send off to the company that will make his/her helmet.
A week after his second scan, Jett’s helmet was ready to go! We went with a camouflage design because camo matches everything and it was cute and tough just like our little man. At this appointment the specialist made some adjustments to get the perfect fit and gave us instructions for cleaning the helmet and the schedule to follow until Jett was wearing it for 23 hours a day. I’ll be honest, when she put the helmet on Jett it was really hard for me to hold back my tears. The mom guilt was overwhelming. I realize now that we did what was best for Jett, but in that moment it was all really hard to process. I totally balled my eyes out when we got in the car.
The good news was that Jett was un-phased. He could’ve cared less he had a giant helmet on his head from the second that the specialist put it on him which was amazing! The thing that I missed the most was rubbing his little head while he nursed. I didn’t realize then either that Jett would wean himself from nursing before he graduated from his helmet treatment. It just goes to show you that you should never take even the little things for granted because they grow up so fast!
FIRST PROGRESS UPDATE
His first progress update was 6 weeks after he got his helmet. Every other week he would go to the clinic to get the helmet adjusted, but they only do scans every 4-6 weeks. After having the helmet for 6 weeks his measurement went from 1.01-.97! We were thrilled and hoped that he wouldn’t have to wear the helmet for the full 4 months.
SECOND PROGRESS UPDATE
By the time this appointment rolled around, Jett was crawling, pulling up on everything and just a busy little bee. We started to appreciate the helmet for saving his little noggin’ every time he would take a spill! We also noticed a huge difference in the shape of his head by this point in the treatment. His second scan showed even more improvement, scanning in at .93. At that time we were told that he would be getting it off in just a couple of short weeks and were SO EXCITED!
FINAL SCAN & HELMET GRADUATION
His final scan was about a month after his second scan. He had a double ear infection in between these two appointments and the weather started to get really warm, so honestly we weren’t as diligent about helmet wear as we normally were the first 3.5 months. However he was still wearing it 23 hours a day during the week in the last 2 weeks of his treatment! His final scan turned out to be .92 and we were overall extremely happy with his results! We were SO HAPPY to get rid of the helmet. Even just picking Jett up from daycare and seeing food stuck in his hair makes me happy- ha! Not having to clean it every night and make sure he’s wearing it 23 hours a day is just a huge relief.
Overall, we are so happy with Jett’s progress and we would 1,000% recommend a helmet to other parents who are worried about their child’s head shape. It’s funny because during the 4 months that Jett had a helmet, I had so many people DM me on Instagram or that we met who told me that they wished they had gotten a helmet for their child. Every time I heard one of these stories, it just broke my heart because this treatment isn’t something that can be done later in life (it needs to be done before the age of 1). If we hadn’t done the treatment and Jett later in his life asked me why his head was shaped the way it was, I would never forgive myself. We wanted to do what was best for him (and have no regrets) and I cannot express enough gratitude to the professionals who guided us with our decision and the specialist(s) who helped us along this journey! We are so grateful that our perfect little boy now has a perfectly round head!
This is probably one of the longest posts that I’ve published, but I hope that it’s helpful to any parent that is going through a similar situation. Like I said, consult your pediatrician about any concerns you may have as I am not a doctor and am just sharing our own experience with this process. Have a great day, y’all!