One month in and we are delighted by the helmet. Of course, we’d rather not have it, but it works, and quickly. Within a week we could see a difference. If RB had that head shape at the start we wouldn’t have got it. Even though his measurements are still considered to be severe his head looks more traditionally shaped. After two weeks his head width reduced from 99% to 96% of its length, instead of the average 80%; his front left to back right diagonal reduced by 3mm to 16mm longer than his front right to back left diagonal. What we didn’t expect is that his head is flatter on top, as what had pushed up at the back is slipping back to where it should be. Nature may have done this too. Now we’ll never know, though I’m confident it wouldn’t have happened this quickly. (This all sounds very dramatic. To help you see what I’m talking about I’m breaking my normal rule of no photos of RB. They’re at the bottom of the page).
We’ve been less bothered by the helmet, and by the attention of others, than we expected. Though proactively explaining the helmet to people helps everyone move on to more interesting topics. He still seems to be his cheery and curious self. He still makes friends wherever we go. His intelligence doesn’t seem to have been hampered so far. Though as I write this he’s bashing his new bell off his helmet…
There have been some side effects (that we know of). RB gets irritated by it when he’s tired, but that doesn’t last long as it’s then nap time. His head gets a bit hot and sweaty, but luckily it’s winter and so it’s not too bad. His sleep suffered and he woke in the night for the first week or so. This may have been a coincidence. It may have been the after effects of our sleep disrupting holiday (bloody bright daylight waking us all up from 6am). However, (without jinxing ourselves), in the past few nights he’s back to sleeping through (with a dream feed when we go to bed).
Don’t get me wrong, we can’t wait til we take it off for good, but it’s not the traumatic experience we worked it up to be. In fact, he had to sleep without it the other night as he had a temperature (that’s a strict rule, to stop him overheating) and I wished he could sleep sitting up. If we choose to try for a second child, and we’re lucky enough to have one, we’ll be much more proactive to try to avoid a helmet again. We’ll use Lila Kuddis pillows in pushchairs and we’ll use a SleepCurve pillow from day one. However, as long as everything stays equal, if we end up needing a helmet, we won’t fear it the way we feared this.
I heard a story because of the helmet that will stick with me. A lady asked why he wore it, and I explained that flat head has dramatically increased since parents were told to sleep babies on their backs on hard mattresses, without pillows. She knew about SIDS. She said they had a cot death. It was strange wording. Maybe a self-defence mechanism. ‘A cot death’. Her baby died at three months old as a result of her following the advice to sleep her baby on her front in case she was sick in the night. That is a traumatic experience. I fear RB dying in his sleep every day. I wonder when I’ll stop checking he’s still alive when he’s having a peaceful nap. I hope this fear remains a neurotic parent fear, and is not a real risk. I’m not saying that the helmet is a tradeoff against cot death. Babies sleep on their backs without getting a wonky head. But it did put it in perspective. What’s a few months of a helmet, really?
The day we had his helmet put on:
Two weeks later (we’re told the lines are normal and are where his head plates are moving):