As the cold winter days begin to give way to warmer spring temperatures, parents of infants with cranial helmets look forward to getting back outside. While reshaping babies’ soft skulls is necessary, the helmets can feel confining during the long winter months, mainly spent indoors. The spring season offers opportunities to leave the house and provides some welcome relief. Here are spring tips for Infants with cranial helmets.

Enjoy the Outdoors

After being cooped up all winter, infants will appreciate the change of scenery that the outdoors provides. Take them on walks around the neighborhood to see the emerging flowers and greenery. Find a grassy area in a park and let them touch and feel the grass. Go to a farmer’s market and check out the seasonal produce. Just protect their skin under the helmet with sunscreen or a wide-brimmed hat. The fresh air and new sights will delight them.

Check Helmet Fit

As infants grow rapidly, especially under a year old, their helmets may need adjustment with the change of seasons. Schedule an appointment with the cranial specialist to ensure proper fit as the volume inside the helmet changes. Refitting the helmet ensures it applies the proper pressure to influence skull growth as intended.

Cranial specialist Stuart Weiner, CPO, LPO, and director of the Cranial Center of New Jersey, states, “It’s important to keep up to date with your infant checkups to ensure a proper fit.”

Limit Sun Exposure

While getting infants outdoors more in the spring is beneficial, be mindful of sun safety. Helmets do not protect from UV rays. Limit direct sun exposure by strolling in the early morning or late afternoon. Use a wide-brimmed hat over the helmet to shade the face. Apply broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen to exposed skin at least 15 minutes before going outside. Reapply every 2 hours. Seek shade when possible.

Stay Cool Indoors

When summer’s heat arrives, keep infants comfortable even while wearing helmets inside. Draw blinds and curtains during the brightest times of the day. Turn on the fans or the air conditioner. Dress babies in lightweight, breathable cotton clothing. Avoid direct sun coming through windows. Give cooling baths before nap time. Offer frequent cold drinks from a bottle or teething feeder.

Check for Skin Irritation

The constant contact between skin and helmet liner can irritate, especially during sweaty months. Examine the head under the helmet daily for any red marks or abrasions. Treat minor irritations with an over-the-counter skin protectant cream. For severe or worsening skin breakdown, contact the pediatrician and cranial specialist. The helmet fit and amount of wear time may need adjustment.

Allow Bareheaded Play

While helmets should be worn as much as possible to be effective, doctors recommend short periods of bareheaded play in a safe area. This gives the head a break and allows the skin to air out. Lay infants down during tummy time or let them scoot around helmet-free for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a day. Avoid falls, though, since the head will be unprotected.

Weiner says, “Keep the baby clean and dry throughout the day. Remember that when the helmet is off, it doesn’t work. Short frequent breaks are better than many long breaks.”

Watch for Growth Spurts

Helmet adjustments may be needed with growth spurts. During spring, forests experience rapid growth. Use this as a metaphor to observe the baby’s development. Just like trees sprouting new leaves and gaining inches in height weekly, infants can suddenly shoot up, requiring helmet modifications to match their terrain. Check fit after noticing developmental milestones like holding their head up steadily, attempting to roll over, or teething, which can all influence skull expansion.

Switch Stroller Head Support

If the baby has outgrown the inclined seat and restraints on their stroller, it’s time to switch to the toddler seat setup. Ensure the straps hold the helmet in proper alignment and do not push the helmet forward onto the forehead. The stroller manual or manufacturer’s website will guide you in adjusting the harness system. A bike helmet strap cover can prevent rubbing.

Heading outdoors for spring playtime takes some extra planning and vigilance for parents of babies in helmets. But the benefits of breathing fresh air, seeing new sights, and getting vitamin D from sunshine make the effort well worth it. With these tips, families can enjoy the warmer weather transitioning from a cooped-up winter to an active spring.

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