Everything You Need To Know About Head Shape Helmets and Flat Head Syndrome Prevention For Your Baby

Ahead of our baby Benjimin’s One Year Birthday (!!), it feels like he’s been hitting milestones left and right these days—including graduating from the Head Shape Helmet program he has been on for the past six months!

I first shared about Benjimin joining the Helmet Baby Club (not a real club lol) back in August 2023. In that post, I included details about what head shape correction helmets are, how much they cost, why parents might consider or need them for their baby, and more useful details.

Since that post I regularly get messages from new parents asking for more information about Benjimin’s helmet and progress, as they’ve learned their baby may require some head shape support as well. 

It was always my intention to elaborate on details from that helmet post over on my blog, and it looks like Benjimin graduating from his Head Shape Helmet is the perfect time to do that!

Below I’ve outlined all the possible information I think a parent (grandparent, or curious friend/family/onlooker) could possibly want to know about Head Shape Helmets for babies—with a caveat that I am not a head shape expert, simply sharing my perspective as a parent whose baby wore the helmet for six months. 

My hope is that this educational head shape helmet post will help  do a few things:

  1. Assure parents that it’s totally common for your baby to need head shape correction 
  2. Inform parents how they can be proactive to avoid needing a helmet to begin with
  3. Inform parents on why we are very pro-helmet to correct baby’s head shape and the benefits that come with helmet-use if it turns out your baby does need it
  4. Destigmatize the use of helmets for head shape correction—lots of onlookers still don’t know why babies wear them and we always got questions about it when out and about

If you still have questions after reading this post, feel free to email or message me on social media! I am very happy to answer questions based on my experience. 

Benjimin getting his head scanned for his helmet!
Benjimin trying on his first head shape helmet!

Everything You Need To Know About Head Shape Helmets For Your Baby

I hope you find my blog about head shape helmets / flat head helpful! If you did, share it with a parent!

1. It’s not a protective helmet (but it does feel like it protects!)

Head shape correction helmets are actually corrective braces meant to help correct head shape specific to each baby. Although they are not meant to be protective helmets that guard your baby’s head if they fall, helmet baby parents will tell you that they certainly do help with that lol. 

We actually felt like the helmet gave Benjimin a ton of confidence by lessening the impact of blows from falls. As a result, we found he became much more of a risk-taker and much more likely to try walking, climbing, etc. Much more likely to get up and keep going if he did experience a little fall.

I wonder if Benjimin would have achieved some of these motor milestones as early as he did if he didn’t have the helmet cushioning him (to a degree) throughout most of the first year of his life. 

2. Babies who need helmets are usually diagnosed with something called Plagiocephaly or Brachycephaly (a.k.a. Flat Head Syndrome).

Use of head shape correcting helmets is usually recommended from a medical perspective, because babies are diagnosed with something called Plagiocephaly or Brachycephaly, otherwise known as Flat Head Syndrome. It’s a thing! This is where one or more areas of the baby’s head has been flattened likely due to laying on their back too much, or turning their head to a certain side too much, in their early months of life. Plagiocephaly refers to flatness on one side while brachycephaly refers to flatness on the back that affects the shape of either side of the head. 

If left unchecked, for more severe cases, Plagiocephaly, Brachycephaly, Flat Head Syndrome, can cause medical issues and pain for your baby as they get older. There may also be other reasons for a flat head (like issues in the womb for instance), but the most common reasons for a helmet is usually related to some degree of Plagiocephaly or Brachycephaly. 

3. Cosmetic Concern vs. Medical Issue

Flat head affects quite a bit of babies but most of the time it corrects itself without any helmet intervention (more on that below). The less severe Flat Head Syndrome or misshapen head that may work itself out on its own is categorized as more of a cosmetic concern. But in Benjimin’s case it was determined that his flat head was pretty severe, and if left untreated, would likely lead to medical issues in his jaw, ear, etc. A few parents shared with them their child’s flathead led to issues with hats and sports helmets—even a child who had/has a flat head reached out to say that he wished his parents had gotten him a helmet because he feels like his flat head affected him negatively growing up and to this day—heartbreaking. 

You can see his flat head from this pre-helmet photo.
This was considered severe!

4. Sometimes the flat head can be corrected naturally.

As a baby’s skull is still soft and easy to mould for up to 18 months after birth, there is technically plenty of time for a baby’s head shape to correct itself. We are told that the brain naturally pushes the skull out to fill flat parts, so for many babies, flat head resolves without intervention required. Typically by around 4 months when babies are sitting up more, or naturally turning themselves to sleep on their tummies, the pressure alleviates from whatever specific sides or back of head that the flatness may have occurred. 

5. Early prevention is always better. 

Technically we could’ve waited to see if his head would correct without the helmet, especially as he did start sleeping on his stomach naturally around four months old, but as mentioned, early prevention is always better—especially for more severe cases of Flat Head—and the younger your baby is when the helmet is put on, the less they notice or care about it! 

There are easy ways to prevent flat head – doing lots of tummy time, baby wearing, avoiding too many hours in a stroller, car seat, swing, etc. Turning baby’s head when sleeping so that they get more equal time with head turned in both directions. 

We travelled a lot with Benjimin in his early months —including a lot of car rides and even an epic road trip. While these things were wonderful lifestyle things we got to do with our new baby, we admit all the time sitting in car sets and strollers likely contributed to the Flat Head. 

Even when we went to get our consultation, we were told that we *could* wait and see if the head would round out on its own, but we really didn’t want to take the risk, and also liked that the younger the baby is they less likely they’ll fuss about the helmet.

We did notice close to when Benjimin was almost done with his helmet, that he was starting to touch it a lot and not love when we put it on him.

6. The number of babies with flat head has increased a fair bit over the years.

There are more babies with Flat Head Syndrome these days, but less babies suffering from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. This data coincides with the release of now-widely accepted parenting recommendations that babies be placed asleep on their back only. 

When I talk to people about flat heads and corrective head shape helmets, I always mention that the ‘Back is best’ sleeping recommendation has significantly reduced Sudden Infant Death Syndrome but significantly increased Flat Head Syndrome and that’s totally fine because at least flat head is reversible, unlike the other one.

7. Babies who wear helmets usually have to wear it for a period of 4-6 months and for up to 23 hours a day give or take.

It’s a lot of helmet time! When you first get your helmet they ease you into it so for the first couple of days you slowly increase the number of hours baby spends wearing it, but then I think by like the fourth or fifth day they’re in it pretty much all hours of the day except when you take it off to clean or when they’re getting a bath. Babies are expected to sleep with the helmet too.

I think this duration of helmet wear is harder on the parents than it is for the baby. And again, depending on how young baby is, they probably won’t even notice. Benjimin really didn’t notice his helmet until he was closer to a year old, just as we were preparing to graduate away from helmet use. 

Also we were told that if we wanted to take the helmet off for family photos or special occasions, that’s totally fine too. There was some flexibility, but you generally want to keep it on as much as possible because of how much you paid for it / how much you want it to work. 

8. The helmets are pricy. 

Fully transparent, our helmet cost close to $3,000 CAD. Many insurance companies do cover a portion of the cost (our insurance thankfully covered up to 80%) and I think you can look at payment plans too. The cost of our helmet actually pays for up to two helmets because likely during the duration of the helmet wearing, your baby’s head is going to grow and a new helmet will need to be added before the head fully corrects. The cost also pays for regular appointments / check-ins / head progress / measurements. We went in for an appointment pretty much every 3-4 weeks, every 2 weeks in the beginning. 

If you don’t have the insurance, that might play a factor into whether you get a head shape correction helmet or whether you just work harder to ensure baby is doing lots of tummy time, sitting up, not laying on back for too long, baby wearing, etc. Those are good things new parents should be aware of anyway—but it’s hard! They lie for so much for their first bit of life. You’re not a bad parent if you can’t stay on top of all the baby head moving recommendations. And you’re not a bad parent if you can’t afford to get your baby a helmet—but if you can make it work, based on our experience, it makes such a huge difference.

9. Our paediatrician referred us to a headshape clinic but you don’t need to wait for a referral if you’re concerned. 

Our paediatrician was the one who referred us to a local headshape clinic around Benjimin’s five-month birthday. We had certainly noticed his head seemed to getting flatter, and had asked the paediatrician about it at earlier appointments but it wasn’t until around the five-month mark that he noted Benjimin’s Flat Head seemed severe enough to need correction. 

As mentioned above, early and natural intervention where possible is always better, so the first things your doctor is going to recommend is that you do more tummy time, turn the head, baby wear, etc., rather than immediately recommend you get a helmet. 

We were referred to Rokband Pediatric Headshape Clinic, which has several locations in Canada and is quite popular and well-used in Edmonton. But there is also a Head Shape Clinic at the Stollery Children’s Hospital (or likely at your local hospital, depending on where you’re reading this from). I am not fully sure if doing it at a hospital clinic is cheaper than doing it with Rokband, but Rokband did share that there are other helmet / headshape options out there and gave us a pamphlet outlining the different ways that Rokband’s helmets and program is better.

Namely, these days you can find and order generic head shape helmets but the custom solution of Rokband’s, along with their regular check-ins and head measurements, is effective for many reasons. 

If you’re worried about your baby’s headshape, you don’t have to wait for a doctor to refer you. Be proactive about asking your doctor about your baby’s headshape, and also sign up for a free consultation at Rokband or your local hospital/headshape clinic. This isn’t an ad for Rokband, but we certainly enjoyed our corrective headshape experience with them.

Our happy boy didn't even notice his helmet.
The helmet actually really suited his face lol.

10. The process to make the helmet and how it works is pretty cool.

Benjimin’s corrective head shape helmet is custom printed for his specific head shape. They use cool head shape scanning equipment to measure the head and create a digital mould that is then 3D printed to suit his head. At regular check-ins, headshape specialists measure and overlay new images of your baby’s head onto the previous scans so you can see the headshape improvements that are happening The helmets themselves have gaps inside which allows the brain to push the skull out in the right directions from the flat areas. Depending on where you get your helmet, you might be able to choose colours (we chose white so it wouldn’t clash with his outfits lol). It’s also very common for parents to put fun stickers on the helmets. Rokband also does name engraving!

 11. It’s not a bad thing.

A ton of people’s initial reaction when they learned that Benjimin needed or was wearing a corrective headshape helmet, is “oh no!” or expressing sadness. To which I always say, helmets are not a negative thing and parents shouldn’t feel bad if their babies need it! As I mentioned, statistically, the number of babies who are getting Flat Head Syndrome is increasing because parents are doing the safe thing of putting baby to sleep on their backs. Maybe you’re also a super busy parent so circumstances have it that your baby is sleeping in a car seat, stroller, or swing a little more than what is recommended. These things happen and everyone’s situation is different. No judgements from me—except it’s so great that you are looking for more information about corrective headshape helmets and trying to decide if that’s a good choice to support your baby. 

Wearing a helmet isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a thing! 💛

Road trips likely contributed to Benjimin's Flat Head.
We loved his helmet for many reasons!

We absolutely have no regrets about getting our baby a Head Shape Helmet, and having him wear it for about six months of his life. 

In fact, we recommend it. Obviously, doing all the natural proactive, preventative things is the #1 recommendation, but if you find yourself in a ‘should I get my baby a head shape helmet’ situation, our answer is, if you can afford it, if your insurance can cover it, if you can make the cost of it work—then it’s really such an incredible tool to help your baby.

As parents, we are always thinking of the future and how the choices we make for our baby now will impact their lives down the road, and we just feel really good about how the helmet not only corrected Benjimin’s flat head—leaps and bounds—after just six months, but I feel as an unintended happy consequence, gave him a ton of courage and confidence and honestly added to his cuteness (and he was already super cute to begin with!). 

The sooner you get it diagnosed and corrected, the better and easier the whole process is as well.

We got a helmet graduation boy!
Huge milestone!
That’s it! That should be everything you need to know about head shape helmets and correcting Flat Head for your baby, but if you have more questions, let me know in the comments, email, or on social media. 
I hope you find my blog about head shape helmets / flat head helpful! If you did, share it with a parent!

There were also some great comments and questions in my Instagram post about Benjimin’s helmet below, if you’d like to click through for even more context and experiences from other parents: 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Linda Hoang (Brown) 💛 (@lindork)


If you live or work in the Edmonton, Alberta area, or care about Edmonton content, sign up for my hyperlocal newsletter to get weekly recommendations on things to do, eat, and know this week (in the Edmonton area), plus more exclusive content. You can sign up for a free or paid subscription. 


(You’ll get the option to select free or paid after you enter your email). 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

If you're Edmonton area, subscribe to my newsletter for hyperlocal recommendations on what to do, eat, and things to know this week!
If you're Edmonton area, subscribe to my FREE newsletter for hyperlocal recommendations on what to do, eat, things to know this week, and more!