‘Back to Sleep’ and the Flat Head
What is a DOC Band? I have thought long and hard about how I was going to approach this subject.
Over the last few months Lynn and I have been exploring a corrective treatment for Daniel. I thought, “Is this something, which we should keep to ourselves or should we share it with everyone, to promote understanding about the subject?” We have decided to share.
Something is Not Quite Right
A few months ago, I started asking if one of Daniel’s eyes seemed smaller than the other. It was very slight, but it turned out that it was an indicator of something else.
Daniel had developed flat spots on his head, which caused one eye to be slightly smaller than the other and his ears to be slightly out of alignment.
There are a number of causes for this condition, but in Daniel’s case, we believe that the cause was the ‘Back to Sleep’ movement.
What is ‘Back to Sleep’?
‘Back to Sleep’ is the practice of laying infants down to sleep on their backs and not on their tummies or sides. So, when you put your child to sleep, you put them ‘Back to Sleep.’
Since the 1990s, the concept of ‘Back to Sleep’ has been highly effective in reducing SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). However, it has also resulted in 47% of children having misshapen or flat heads; a condition called plagiocephaly.
Yes, I said nearly half of all babies!!!
Plagiocephaly is most common with babies who sleep through the night. As we have proudly told many of you, DJ has been known to sleep for up to eleven hours or more; increasing the likelihood that he would develop the condition.
Is It More Likely with Preemies?
Daniel was born eight weeks early, which also increased his odds of developing plagiocephaly.
According to Alexandria Haigh of Cranial Technologies, “Premature babies have incredibly soft skulls,” adding “The bones in a preemie baby’s skull are much thinner than that of a baby born at full term and therefor,e are malleable.” She continued, “Some premature babies are born with misshapen skulls due to their position in the womb, others develop positional plagiocephaly from their time spent in the NICU.”
Daniel spent the first four weeks of his life in the NICU.
What is a DOC Band?
Children who are diagnosed with plagiocephaly are being treated with an instrument called a DOC Band. Daniel is wearing his DOC Band, for the first time, in the photo above.
The band/helmet applies corrective pressure, which redirects head growth to the areas of concern working towards a more desirable or “normal” head shape.
I always cringe when I hear the word ‘normal.’ Based on conversations we have had with technicians, I believe that normal refers to a desired amount of rounding on the back and top of the head, ear alignment and more.
Each DOC Band is custom made for each child’s needs and is reshaped as treatment progresses. They are lightweight and easy for the child to adapt to wearing. DJ seems to actually like it.
After the first few days, the helmet is worn for twenty-three hours per day. Regular visits to the clinic are used to track progress and to reshape the helmet as needed for optimal success.
Is It Normal?
Like many of you, I had never heard of this condition or the DOC Band before it related to our baby boy and our lives.
That doesn’t mean that I haven’t seen kids with misshapen heads; I have. I just didn’t know that there was something that could be done about it.
The reason I wanted to share our experience is to promote understanding. Wearing a corrective cranial device is a kin to wearing braces for your teeth or glasses for your eyes. It’s similar to a child wearing corrective braces on their legs.
They are corrective measures and not something, of which, you or your family should be ashamed.
These babies are not contagious. They are not fragile. They are normal kids, who are correcting a side effect from a generally accepted practice developed to help keep them alive.
I suspect that the wearing of corrective cranial devices will become more and more common in the near future. When that happens, we will all begin to see babies proudly wearing their helmets out in public.
Why Haven’t I Seen One Before?
Believe it or not, you may have already seen a child wearing a DOC Band and didn’t event notice.
The cool thing about the bands is that they can be custom decorated using paint, decals and more.
We are working on a design for Daniel’s DOC Band now. Lynn has picked out a Disney Pixar theme to remain nameless.
Watch for more pics of DJ in his DOC Band as I tackle my first blog series about plagiocephaly, the DOC Band and DJ’s journey through the process.
* DOC Band is a registered trademark of Cranial Technologies. Trademarks and photos have been used with permission.