Fixing Her Flat
It was right around 3 months old when we noticed Millie had a significant flat spot. We didn't worry too much, I took to the internet and spoke to some other moms to find out it was pretty common because it is recommended that babies sleep on their backs to reduce the chances of SIDS. We took it upon ourselves to make sure we were switching up her positioning to encourage her to lay on the other side of her head.
We only saw a slight improvement, so we went ahead and brought it up to our doctor at Millie's four months check-up, she agreed that she did have a significant flat spot and gave us a recommendation for a specialist.
We were in Kelowna at this time, so she sent us to Starbright Children's Development Center. There was a bit of wait to get an appointment, so in the meantime, we did our best at home. She LOVES tummy time, and she had started flipping to her tummy to sleep at night, so just with that, there was a noticable improvement. So much so that when Starbright finally called to book an appointment, we almost passed but decided we better keep it just in case. So glad that we did.
At our appointment, the physiotherapist determined that Millie had tight neck muscles or what is called torticollis. She then took measurements and concluded that Millie had Plagiocephaly or what is more commonly known as flat head syndrome. Luckily this condition is not dangerous to the babies brain or development.
The measurements that the physiotherapist took fell into the range where they would recommend a helmet. We were then given a few options on where we could go to take the next step.
We decided on Synergy Prosthetic and Orthotic clinic.
I want to note that a helmet is not the only solution to this problem, and in a lot of cases it is really up to the parents if they want to go forward with a helmet. Physical therapy or frequently changing the baby positions can help improve the shape of the babies head, and a helmet may not be needed at all.
We ended up choosing to go with the helmet for a few reasons. First, over the last few months, we had been changing her position and she was rarely on her back (lots of tummy time and rolling over to her tummy when sleeping), and her condition still hadn't improved as much as we had hoped it would.
Second, it was causing uneven growth of her face. When the skull flattens on one side, the facial features may be pushed out of alignment. Again, this could have possibly corrected itself, but we did not want to risk it. When talking with one of the doctors, they mentioned there is not a lot of research done in this field, but there are links to asymmetry of the jaw and migraines. Migraines already run in my side of the family, so I wanted to do anything in my power to help her odds of not getting them.
Lastly, we are in the sweet spot in regards to Millie's age. From my research, babies respond best to helmet therapy between the ages of 4-8 months and are not recommended much after age one. Millie being six months, we wanted to capitalize on that and do as much as we can now.
So we knew we wanted to go forward with the helmet and as I mentioned, we were given four options in our area where we could do this. We ended up choosing Pediatric Headshape Clinic. They use a 3-D printer to make their SnugKap, which I thought was pretty cool. Overall they seemed so much more lightweight and breathable than other options we had seen online. And because we would be heading back to Montreal in the fall, we needed a clinic that would be willing to work with us from afar or had clinics on the east coast.
In our first visit, they took a scan of Millie's head, which was super simple. They just put this little stocking on her head and then walked around her with the scanner, that was it! They confirmed that Millie was in the range where they would recommend a helemet. Right then and there we told them we wanted to go forward with it, so they sent the information to their office in Vancouver, and a week later we were back in the office for Millie's fitting.
We started her off with just wearing the helmet a few hours the first day and then worked our way up until she was wearing the helmet for 23 hours a day. We are just taking it off for baths pretty much. She adjusted to it just fine, the first night of sleep she woke up once (who knows if it was actually because of the helmet) but other than that there has been zero change in her attitude or sleep.
A lot of people have reached out about getting her helmet painted, they actually also offered to get it personalized while it was getting made. When these options are super cute and can make this process fun we have decided to keep hers plain, if you know me then you know I like things clean and simple :)
We go to our first follow up appointment this Saturday, they will take another scan to see how she is improving. I will do an update after that on my Instagram stories.