For most babies, the DOC band does not affect their daily routine at all. Each band is designed and manufactured specifically to fit each child. Most babies move through their daily activities without any disruptions from the band. This includes sleeping, eating, rolling, crawling, and all other developmental milestones.
Parents are instructed on how to monitor their babies’ skin during the first couple days of wear to allow the skin a chance to get used to band wear and there is not discomfort or sense of the band feeling “tight” on the baby’s head. Should parents notice any red spots, they should remove the band and not put it back on until the red spots have gone away at which time the band should be put back on.
I was working for Cranial Technologies when I became pregnant with my first son, James. Before starting as a baby imaging specialist, I would not have known a thing about plagiocephaly or brachycephaly, or have given them the slightest thought during my pregnancy. However, unlike the soon-to-be mamas around me, I worked with babies in the DOC Band® all day, every day, so I already knew a thing or two about positional plagiocephaly.
During my pregnancy, the amazing clinicians in my clinic were kind enough to show me different re-positioning techniques before James had even entered the world. Naively, I told myself that my baby would not need a band because I would do everything to ensure that his head would be perfectly round from birth.
Fast forward eight weeks into my maternity leave, I was slowly
watching my son’s head become flatter and flatter. I was so confused as to how this happened. I had fiercely examined James’ head shape hours after he was born (that’s normal, right?) and believed that he had the most perfectly round head at birth. My husband and I had done everything the clinicians at my clinic had instructed- tummy time, re-positioning, stretches, etc. We carried him upright in our arms instead of cradling him from the moment he was born. Like a drill sergeant, I got on the floor three times a day with a five-minute timer and cheered on my baby’s tummy time efforts. (Again, normal, right?!?) I was more than proud of the head control he developed from all our exercising. Reluctantly, I could still see that I needed to take my baby in for an evaluation.
James was three months old when he was seen for his initial evaluation in the West Houston clinic. Our clinician had recommended James enter treatment in a DOC Band. It was explained to my family James had severe brachycephaly and moderate – severe right plagiocephaly due to in-utero constraint and back sleeping. Somehow, learning James had developed his current head shape while in my womb reassured me. I knew I had not done anything wrong, but the facts were the facts: I was petite in structure, James was a big boy, and he was a wonderful back sleeper. I knew there was no reason to feel guilty or frustrated because there was nothing I could have done to prevent this. Not even five more minutes of drill sergeant tummy time mommy could have rounded out my baby’s head.
As a baby imaging specialist, I was lucky to already know exactly what the treatment process would entail. I knew that it would be painless for my baby, and that, of course, he would look absolutely adorable in a band. I also knew that this had nothing to do with his brain development. I’m ashamed to admit that my greatest fear was far more trivial than the concerns several moms would have regarding the health of their child- I was mostly concerned of the treatment time commitment.
I knew that James’ Doc Band adjustments would be one week apart because I wanted his treatment to start ASAP, but I honestly did not know how we were
going to make the time for this. I had already gone back to work full time, and my husband has a full-time job of his own. I have type 1 diabetes which comes with constant blood glucose monitoring and insulin regulations and endocrinology appointments. James was also exclusively breastfed, and I was pumping at work and at home during whatever time I could find. We had also just started James in daycare and were coincidentally beginning to see the need for several unexpected sick appointments with his pediatrician. She had recently prescribed him albuterol for a persistent cough that would need to be given every six hours through a nebulizer. I was clueless as to how we would squeeze a DOC Band into our already packed daily routine. Little did I know that out of an insulin pump, a breast pump, and a nebulizer, a DOC Band would be by far the simplest addition to our complicated family of medical devices.
My husband and I did our best not to overwhelm ourselves, and took each appointment one week at a time. James did his imaging appointment at the Pearland clinic, which was brand new at the time, and even smiled for me, his imaging specialist, during the entry imaging appointment. The fit appointment was as smooth as could be. James quickly adjusted to the band and didn’t have any problems with redness. He even slept well that first night with the band. James only had seven adjustment appointments until he was finished with his first band. Those seven weeks passed before our eyes, and I can’t exactly pinpoint why. Perhaps it’s because we adopted the DOC Band into our routine with open arms, and we occasionally forgot that he was
wearing it. Skin checks and band cleaning were all there really was to it. As far as weekly appointments, Monday is one of those days that approaches before we all know it. Seven quick Monday appointments later, we were done with the first DOC Band.
James continued treatment in a second band, and his results astounded us. James’ total treatment time was five months between the two bands. In hindsight, I’m grateful that we did not allow the frequency of appointments or 23-hour wear of the band determine our final treatment decision. James’ infancy and time in the band is so short in comparison to the rest of his life, and a round noggin is something he will wear forever.
Savannah Elkinsis a Baby Imaging Specialist at Cranial Technologies since 2016. The Texas A&M University graduate lives with her husband, son, James, and dog, Sandy, in Pearland, Texas.
Depending on the length and thickness of your baby’s hair, a haircut may be necessary. Because each helmet is custom made for each child, a properly fitting band is one of the most important factors affecting the outcome. An in-depth 3D image of your baby is an essential first step to guarantee proper fit of the band. When there is a lot of thick hair on the baby, it adds thickness to the 3D surface representation of the baby’s head, and this may result in a helmet that has a lot of movement. A DOC Band with excessive movement can lead to problems with comfort, skin tolerance, and most importantly, the effectiveness of the band.
Are Baby Positioning Devices Causing More Harm Than Good? by Tara Held, MSPT
I am a pediatric physical therapist with 18 years of experience helping little ones achieve their fullest gross motor potential and teaching families how to understand baby development. I have become a specialist in addressing and correcting head molding in babies, and want to share some information about common baby positioning products you might be using that put your child at risk for developmental delays and positional plagiocephaly.
Rock ‘n Play
Let’s talk about one of the most popular baby holding devices that many of the parents I see are using…The Rock ‘n Play. So many of my clients report that their babies had spent extended amount of time in a Rock ‘n Play, and then noticed head flattening, neck tightness, and motor issues.
How is this product possibly causing these issues? Well, let’s start with normal development…Your newborn should be able to move their head side to side, kick their legs, reach their arms out, and stretch out of the flexed position in which they spent months developing in the womb. This allows them to work against gravity and strengthen their muscles, as well as work out any minor asymmetries in their neck muscles that might have been present at birth. A firm, flat surface is ideal for these exercises. And you definitely should place your baby on their back when sleeping, in order to reduce the incidence of SIDS.
The Rock ‘n Play prohibits these normal movements and holds your baby in static positions for long periods of time, encouraging increased neck tightening and head molding. And even though the surface is padded, pressure is still pressure. It doesn’t take much force to misshape your newborn’s soft skull bones.
Another product to explore is the Bumbo Chair. Although this seems like a great way to “jump start” sitting skills in a baby, it actually does the opposite. Babies are placed in the Bumbo chair before they are developmentally ready, and with poor postural alignment as well. Their spines are rounded, pelvis in a posterior tilt, and head jutted forward…all inappropriate for seated posture and spinal alignment.
Many times, little ones don’t have active head control when put in this chair, so they are basically put into a position where they get no proprioceptive input, vestibular input, or tactile response. To summarize…the baby is passively strapped into a seat with no ability to practice sitting balance, weight shifts, trunk rotation, or age-appropriate strengthening of muscles- all which will provide the necessary sensory and motor input needed to achieve motor milestones.
Safety issues are also a concern, as with any positioning products. Please never leave your baby unsupervised on a high surface in the Bumbo Chair or improperly buckled into a Bumbo Chair.
Does using a baby walker get your baby walking earlier? Not exactly. Again, when overused, a baby walker can have the reverse effect on motor skills, and even cognitive development. When a baby sits or stands in a walker, the tray around them doesn’t allow them to see their legs move, and get the visual feedback needed to learn as they move through the environment. It does not allow natural standing posture, promotes toe-walking, and prohibits normal coordination and reciprocal motion needed for the skill of walking. Being placed upright before your little guy can weight bear on his legs will interfere with the natural progression a baby needs to follow: sit to crawl to stand to walk. And it goes without saying that there are endless physical dangers when left unsupervised in a walker, such as falling down steps, reaching for dangerous hot surfaces, poisonous materials, etc.
“What product out there is safe for my baby?” Well, these products are helpful to a new parent, but MODERATION is the key. The problems start when these products are over-used.
Instead, encourage your baby to play, explore, move, and grow in healthier ways… supervised floor play time with toys placed on either side of your baby or supported above your baby (like a baby gym toy), tummy time activities, side-lying exercises, sitting on your lap or held upright, close to you in an infant carrier, and 1:1 interaction with your little one in any developmentally appropriate position.
Your baby will thank you!
Tara Heldis a clinician at Cranial Technologies, assessing and treating babies with positional plagiocephaly, address neck muscle imbalances, and correct abnormal head shapes. She has been a pediatric physical therapist for 18 years, specializing in treatment of torticollis, plagiocephaly, movement disorders, neurodevelopmental delays, and sensory processing disorders. She has experience in early intervention and school-based settings, hippotherapy, aquatic rehab, pediatric yoga and Pilates, and outpatient rehabilitation.