One of the first questions that most plagiocephaly parents ask when the pediatrician prescribes cranial remolding is how long will my baby need to wear the helmet. Most doctors will hesitate to give a specific time frame, because there is a range. While there is no one answer to this question, there is certainly a typical range for most infants and a number of factors that can help reduce the length of time to treat flat head syndrome.
Factors Impacting Time in Cranial Remolding in Plagiocephaly
There are a number of factors that dictate how long your baby will need to wear their molding band or helmet. The first factor is the severity of the plagiocephaly. Milder forms of the condition lead to substantially less time in a helmet or band. Children with more severe forms will need more time for reshaping to occur. Another important factor is age. Studies have shown that younger babies will require less time in a helmet than older children. A final factor is how many hours a day your baby wears their helmet. It is recommended that the helmet be worn at least 16 hours a day, preferably longer. Some doctors are now requiring their patients to wear the device 23 hours a day, with just one hour allotted for the skin to refresh and the parent to thoroughly clean the helmet. If your baby wears his/her helmet for 23 hours a day, the length of time using the helmet will be less than a child who only wears the device just 16 hours a day.
Monitoring Progress to Gauge Length of Treatment
After the helmet has been fitted and you begin treatment, most children will need to be seen weekly or biweekly to check their progress. These short appointments will give your care provider a chance to take detailed measurements and track progress. They will also make any necessary adjustments to the helmet to keep the process running smoothly. These are great opportunities to talk with the doctor about how your baby’s progress is coming and approximate how much longer might be required.
Typical Ranges for Flat Head Syndrome Treatment
Most children will complete their treatment in four to six months. Babies younger than six months will often complete their treatment in the four to five month range, with some infants needing as little as 2-3 months. Older babies, from 6 to 12 months, tend to take a little longer because brain growth has slowed slightly, which effects skull growth. Babies between one and two can be treated using cranial remolding, however the length of treatment will be extended, typically six to eight months.
While there is no specific length of time at the onset of plagiocephaly treatment, the typical range is four to six months in a cranial molding helmet or band. To many parents this seems like an eternity, but most families quickly find that the helmet is not nearly as troublesome as expected and the time moves quickly with an infant.