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How Our Baby Helmets Are Custom Made for Your Infant’s Flat Head Syndrome

A Gillette patient wears their craniocap.

Deformational plagiocephaly, better known as "flat head", is a condition where a baby’s head has an uneven or irregular shape. Because external forces cause a flat head, it can occur while a baby is growing before and after birth. If the condition goes untreated, it can get worse. Gillette knows and understands just how important it is to help combat this condition and aims to treat it as soon as possible. This is why we became the first to create an orthosis approved by the FDA, known as the CranioCap or “baby helmet”.

What Is the Gillette CranioCap® Orthosis?

The baby helmet, like many orthoses, is there to help correct the shape of your baby's head. The orthotic helmet focuses carefully on the skull by slowly molding it into the open spaces. This process usually takes two to three months for the head to round fully. 

Many might wonder why its nickname is the “baby helmet.” It is because after a baby is 12 months old, the helmet is unlikely to change the shape of the head since most of the brain’s growth occurs during the first 13 months of life. Therefore, doctors recommend that the best time for babies to get a cranial cap (baby helmet) is between 4 to 6 months old.

What to Expect During a Fitting

An orthotist creates a CranioCap.

In order to get a baby helmet, you will need the help of our expert craniofacial specialist for an evaluation. This normally takes between 45 minutes to an hour. The evaluation includes:

  • Special laser technology. This scan will help by creating a 3-D model of the child’s head onto the computer. The scan does not take long, however, since the baby needs to be as still as possible. Sometimes it may be easiest for your child to sit on your lap.
  • After looking at the model on the computer, our Orthotics, Prosthetics and Seating team creates a lightweight baby helmet. This helmet is customized to fit your baby’s unique head shape.
  • The fitting for the CranioCap typically takes around two weeks after the laser scan.

How The CranioCap Helps

Once you receive the helmet, your child needs to see the orthotist one week after the initial fitting and every two weeks thereafter for evaluation and adjustments. Follow-up appointments can take place at our St. Paul, Burnsville, or Maple Grove clinic locations, in addition to outreach sites throughout greater Minnesota. This includes our locations in Mankato, Duluth, Brainerd/Baxter, Bemidji, Detroit Lakes, Marshal, and Willmar.

It is very important to continually monitor the helmet and adjust it whenever needed, as it is very dependent on the correction and fit. For your child to get the best results, they will need to gradually work up to wearing the helmet 23 hours a day. While the helmet can take some time to get used to, parents like Bridget and James Madich, who shared their story with us about their daughter’s plagiocephaly journey, are able to seamlessly adjust to their baby’s new accessory and even personalize it to make it their own. Bridget bought a cute bow from Esty for the helmet to give it some life and color. In fact, decorating the baby helmet is so popular that Gillette has made an entire section of what and what not to use! Check out CranioCap Decorating for more information!

Gillette Children’s knows the importance of developmental health. Creating the nation’s first FDA-approved orthosis for plagiocephaly was just the beginning. We hope to expand this technology and knowledge worldwide, bringing awareness to those who need it.

A Gillette patient wears a CranioCap.