The ‘Perfect’ baby head

I don’t go casually throwing out random advice on a regular basis, because I know how much I hated receiving it.. but if there’s one thing I wish I was told when Holden was born- it would be to ROTATE YOUR KIDS HEAD.

That reads really funny out of context but it will make sense as this post goes on.

Like most vaginally born babies, Holden was born with intense cone head.. I literally could not even look at it- it just freaked me OUT. After a few days, it morphed into the normal super-round perfect baby head shape.

Unbeknownst to me (because I didn’t know to look for it), Holden was constantly sleeping on one side of his head. The more he slept there, the more he got comfortable ONLY sleeping with his head turned one way.. and soon… a flat spot wore onto the back side of his head.

Once I noticed it, I couldn’t stop noticing it and it became a source of incredibly paranoia and stress to me.

I did what I always do in a state of baby-panic, I googled! …And asked girls on the mommy-board I post on. The more I saw and read, the more differeing opinions I got. Some people told me it would absolutely correct on its own, and others said it absolutely would NOT- and that he needed a corrective helmet.
If you’ve read the Jenny McCarthy book, then you know exactly what i’m talking about because her son had to have a corrective helmet (his was also much more severe).

I started looking at websites with pictures of children with incredibly flattened heads to the point where their eyes became misaligned and their forheads protruded and freaked myself out to the point of tears. Thoughts of “The Elephant Man” came to mind- and people asking Holden to take off his mask.. only.. he isn’t wearing a mask!

Of course, at Holden’s next pediatrician appointment I asked what I could do.. if it was bad enough to need a helmet, and she did her best to calm me down. She said it wasn’t bad at all and she’d seen so much worse, and just to ‘rotate his head’ while he was sleeping to make sure he wasn’t constantly on that spot since he couldn’t sit up on his own yet. I wasn’t sure what to believe, since some pediatricians just never suggest corrective helmets for children at all.. but I went with it, being that I like our pediatrician and value her opinion- and because I was pretty damn sure our insurance would never cover a $1600 corrective foam helmet for Holden… and because the thought of my kid wearing a helmet for however many weeks was absolutely horrifying to me.

For MONTHS, any time Holden was sleeping i’d move his head off of the flat spot. I’d creep into his room at night and move his head.. if I heard him stir i’d go back in to check and make sure he hadn’t rolled back onto it. It became a complete obsession. For good reason, but I think I really hyped it up in my mind. It was all I saw when I looked at him, I think at one point it was all I talked about. Who doesn’t want their kid to be ‘perfect’?

I noticed it getting better little by little, but still nowhere near what a ‘perfect round head’ should look like.. and then I stopped and thought
“Well.. i’ve never looked at an adult and thought ‘damn that guys head is flat!'” and i’m positive there are many adults out there with the same shape head as Holden (ahem.. Thomas), the same shape head I was completely freaking out about. I’m sure if I shaved my head, it wouldn’t be perfectly round.. ’cause I seriously don’t think my Mom was putting much thought into it.. she was probably too busy coiffing her huge curly 80’s do.

No, this didn’t stop the paranoia, and I still continued rotating his head in his sleep (it became an art.. how to turn a baby head without waking him) until he became mobile. If I had to do it all over again.. i’d have rotated his head sooner to make sure he didn’t wear a freaking flat spot into his skull in the first place (as creepy as it is, it’s literally like wearing an ass spot into your couch), and had the same thing happened- i’d be rotating the same way I did.

Is his head ‘perfect’ now? No. What is a perfect head anyways?

It’s definitely much better.. enough for me to not be stressing out over it anymore. It could just be that he has poofy hair to hide it, out of sight out of mind, right?

I still glance at it and am sad that I didn’t stop it before it started- maybe if I did my Dad wouldn’t be calling him (in different words) a “fat head.”

Posted on November 13, 2008 by Holdin' Holden 6 Comments
Holdin' Holden

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  • Is that a “free vision exam” commercial? That’s kinda funny with him being that close to the TV. 😛

    Ally had a bald spot from laying on her back too much during playtime. Since we co-slept and breastfed, she was always on different sides in bed but she still ended up with that spot just from playtime!! So happy they have hair now(even though it isn’t a lot lol)!

  • hah, yes it is! ALL of the pictures I have of him staring at the TV have funny little ad sayings on them. Weird coincidence??

    Holden had a big ol’ bald spot AND a flat spot. Fun times for him!!

    He lost most of his birth hair, full head of black- GONE!

  • It did take a lot to keep his head switching from one side to another. It was easy when he was in his bassinet next to the bed. But, ti was much harder when he got moved into his own room.

    I never believed that his head was all that bad off. You were way worse about it than I. I knew it would eventually work its way into a roundish head.



    you confirm my psycho-suspicion.

  • The hubby makes fun of Em’s “misshapen head” ALL the damn time. She definitely has a flat spot and I even knew all about making sure she didn’t sleep on one side. I guess it’s one more thing a parent can feel guilty about when there’s probably nothing that could have changed it! I’m sure both our babies will look like they have normal heads in the future, but perhaps they shouldn’t shave them. There’s always someone like Rob Halford of Judas Priest who shaves his head one day and you go, “Wow….you really shouldn’t have done that.”

  • Thank you for this encouraging post. Its put a lot of my worries to rest and assured me that Im doing the right thing by not opting for a helmet for my firstborn. I too wasnt aware of plagiocephaly before giving birth, as birthing classes never talked about this. 1.5 months into his life, and I see a flat spot onto my son’s right side of the head. Panic struck and I googled to find all symptoms of Plagio on him- the corresponding skull had begun protruding slightly and the ear had moved slightly forward too! To say that I almost died in guilt, would not be an exaggeration at all. All I could think about was flat head syndrome and it became an obsession to see the back of adult heads everywhere I went. Funny how we never would otherwise notice the back of someone’s skull.

    But like you, I couldnt bear the thought of putting my son into that contraption device and tried repositioning…correction ‘manic repositioning’. More than anything else, I would make sure he slept sideways on the opposite side of the flatness (the rounded side). I know side sleeping has risks of SIDs but with careful monitoring and co-sleeping, one could avoid risks. Besides it helped with his occasional reflux too.

    Anyways, Im happy to say that after 3 months, his head has indeed rounded out. The flat portion is almost negligible and his ears and forehead look perfectly aligned to me.

    I have concluded that unless the problem is quite severe, helmet therapy is unnecessary. A lot of attentive repositioning is all that is required. Hope some panicked mother benefits from my story 🙂