As a new parent, learning that your infant needs to wear a cranial helmet can be overwhelming. Cranial helmets, also known as cranial orthoses, are used to correct conditions like deformational plagiocephaly, brachycephaly, and scaphocephaly. These conditions can cause a baby’s head to develop an asymmetrical shape due to external pressures on the skull. While cranial helmets are highly effective in reshaping the head, managing their use during the hot summer can be particularly challenging. Here are some tips to help you and your baby navigate cranial helmet therapy comfortably during the summer.

Understanding Cranial Helmets
Cranial helmets are custom-fitted devices designed to gently correct the shape of an infant’s skull over time. They are typically worn 23 hours a day for several months, depending on the severity of the condition and the age of the child. While the helmets are crucial for effective treatment, they can pose additional challenges during hot weather due to their insulating nature, which can lead to overheating and discomfort.

1. Monitor for Signs of Overheating
Infants are more susceptible to overheating than adults, and wearing a cranial helmet can increase this risk. It’s important to regularly check for signs of overheating, which include:

Excessive sweating
Red, flushed skin
Rapid breathing
Fussiness or irritability
If you notice any of these symptoms, remove the helmet immediately and cool your baby down with a lukewarm bath or by placing them in a cool, air-conditioned environment. Once your baby has cooled down, you can put the helmet back on.

2. Keep Your Baby Cool
To help prevent overheating, take proactive steps to keep your baby cool:

Dress Lightly: Dress your baby in lightweight, breathable clothing made from natural fibers like cotton. Avoid overdressing, even if you feel the need to keep your baby warm; the helmet itself provides some insulation.
Stay Indoors During Peak Heat: Try to stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day, typically between 10 AM and 4 PM. If you need to go outside, seek shade and use a stroller with a canopy or sunshade.
Air Circulation: Use fans or air conditioning to keep the air circulating and maintain a comfortable indoor temperature. When using a fan, make sure it is not directly pointed at your baby.

3. Regular Breaks
While it’s recommended for infants to wear the helmet for 23 hours a day, taking short breaks can help prevent overheating. During these breaks, clean your baby’s head and the inside of the helmet to remove sweat and moisture. Ensure the helmet and your baby’s scalp are completely dry before putting it back on.

4. Maintain Hygiene
Keeping the helmet and your baby’s head clean is crucial, especially in hot weather when sweating is more common. Clean the helmet daily according to the manufacturer’s instructions, which usually involve wiping it down with a damp cloth and mild soap. Dry it thoroughly to prevent any moisture buildup that could cause skin irritation.

5. Skin Care
Check your baby’s skin regularly for any signs of irritation, redness, or pressure sores. The helmet should fit snugly but not so tight that it causes discomfort. If you notice any persistent redness or sores, consult your orthotist or healthcare provider. They may need to adjust the fit of the helmet.

6. Hydration
Ensure your baby stays well-hydrated. Offer frequent feedings of breast milk or formula, as this will help regulate their body temperature and keep them comfortable. For older babies, small amounts of water may also be given as recommended by your pediatrician.

7. Time in the Water
Water play can be a great way to keep your baby cool during the summer. While the helmet should not be submerged in water, you can remove it for short periods to allow your baby to enjoy the water. Always supervise water activities closely and ensure the helmet is back on as soon as the water play is over.

8. Consult Your Orthotist
Your orthotist is a valuable resource when it comes to managing cranial helmet therapy in the summer. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any concerns or questions. They can provide specific advice tailored to your baby’s needs and make any necessary adjustments to the helmet. Call Stuart Weiner, CPO and director of the Cranial Center in NJ.  Call 800 685 9116 or write us at info AT cranial center dot com.

9. Use Cooling Accessories
Some parents find that cooling accessories, such as cooling packs or moisture-wicking helmet liners, can help keep their babies more comfortable. Consult with your orthotist before using any additional accessories to ensure they are safe and will not interfere with the effectiveness of the helmet.

10. Stay Positive
Remember that cranial helmet therapy is a temporary but important phase in your baby’s development. The treatment is highly effective in correcting skull shape abnormalities and ensuring proper head growth. Stay positive and focused on the long-term benefits, and take comfort in knowing that you are providing the best possible care for your baby.

Managing cranial helmet therapy during the summer can be challenging, but with the right strategies, you can help your baby stay cool and comfortable. By monitoring for signs of overheating, maintaining good hygiene, ensuring proper hydration, and consulting with your orthotist, you can navigate this period successfully. Remember, this phase is temporary, and your efforts will contribute significantly to your baby’s healthy development.

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