August 11, 2016, at one day old, my youngest son was diagnosed with Craniosynostosis.
The plates of his skull fused prematurely, causing him to be born without a soft spot. This meant that he would need major surgery to create a soft spot in his skull, followed by twelve to fifteen months of helmet therapy. Thankfully he didn’t have surgery until November (at three months old), so he only had to endure one summer as a helmet baby.
Most helmets are prescribed for twenty-three hours a day, seven days a week.
Admittedly, we probably totaled twenty-one to twenty-two hours a day during the summer. Even though it all worked out for us, I do recommend running any changes through your child’s doctor or orthotist first. We always had the helmet for naps and bedtime though, which is when the growth hormone is at its peak.
This is how our son survived a Louisiana summer with a helmet
- Light weight fabrics, and sleeveless rompers – We kept his outfits as airy and breathable as possible. We also rarely put socks on his feet (even during the crazy mild / hot winter we had that year). This was so his body heat could escape through his extremities.
- Shade, shade, and more shade! – Anytime we were outside, we found shade and stayed there. He even endured his brother’s swim lessons in July by sitting in his stroller under a tree.
- Take the hour break in multiple installments – You can take the helmet off for 10-15 minutes at a time. For example, we’d do about 15 minutes for bath time and to clean it, but we’d also take his helmet off while getting everyone buckled in the car, that way he could cool off before our drive.
- … Or, plan a lot of water activities – This way, your baby gets their break and gets to enjoy water. We went to our local splash pad a lot last year!
- Wiping away sweat – Our son was already six months into helmet therapy when May rolled around, so he was used to the helmet being taken on and off regularly. During the summer, we would periodically take the helmet off to quickly wipe the sweat from the inside of it, and from his head. This took 1-2 minutes, tops.
Stay strong, fellow moms of helmet babies! It goes by faster than you think!
The last two months of helmet therapy were the longest for us. Honestly, the whole ordeal was harder on my husband and I than our son. Little ones are so resilient and adaptable! It’s been eight months since we hung up the helmet, and sometimes we forget that it was even a part of our lives. For all of the hard days, we are still so thankful for the technology and medical science available today.
Another bonus, our baby boy loves to wear hats and looks so darn cute in them now, and we got to witness firsthand, how tough little ones are from the beginning.