You notice your baby favors one side and not the other. There’s a flat spot on the back of their head. You’re unsure what to do or who to call. It can be daunting to think your young infant may need some help with their neck or head shape. We know this because we see it every day. We promise it’s never as bad as you think it may be. Our goal is to help you through it one step at a time, explaining as we go.
This article helps with understanding the basics of what is happening and make decisions that are right for your baby and family. Keep in mind that many babies need just one or two sessions of therapy. It depends on what is going on for each baby and the skills of the therapist. These tips help you receive ideal care from the very start.
What to look for in a therapist and a practice:
A practice that dedicates itself to infants and has occupational, physical and feeding therapists with a depth and breadth of skill in this specialized area is key. Every infant has different needs and it’s ideal to go to a practice where each therapist is fully trained and can also rely on fellow therapists for all individual needs. Therapists who treat infants with head shape issues ideally have:
- A deep understanding of infant development, positioning, and routines that are developmentally supportive and how to make them doable for a family
- Advanced training in manual therapy such as cranialsacral therapy (CST) or myofascial release adapted for infants in a very gentle manner
- Experience and advanced training in infant feeding when that is part of the issue for a baby
- Experience with many, many infants and parents that brings an understanding of the potential emotional and financial factors a parent is facing
- Significant experience with infants that were premature or had other medical issues at birth
- Hands-on experience with understanding what the ideal timing is if a cranial band (helmet) is under consideration; unless a therapist has a working knowledge of measuring and using cranial bands it can be difficult to ascertain the timing or whether a band is needed at all
- A practice that deeply values close partnership with parents with clear explanations; ability to teach what to do at home; and to explain treatment options as they may arise
- A practice that recognizes that each family and infant has unique needs, and individualizes everything for the specific situation an infant and family present with; is in close communication with the parent
- The option to quickly text or email a therapist to clarify an aspect of the home program or to celebrate an improvement
- A therapist that has training in state regulation and can help the infant stay mainly in a calm, alert state during therapy and teach the parent how to do this at home
- A practice where a therapist’s caseload is primarily infants. Seeing hundreds and eventually thousands of infants makes for a deeper understanding of the nuances of each baby and how to most gently and expediently address what is happening
This highly specialized and holistic approach ensures your infant gets exactly what is needed versus only what a particular company may offer. Some scenarios that offer some help but may not be ideal are::
- A therapist with a base level skill of positioning and baby development, but do not have manual therapy training adapted for gentle use with infants
- A therapist that has experience with their own children and a few others, but doesn’t have a caseload primarily made up of infants and the nuances that make a difference in the care
- A therapist that is pushing their personal belief system such as “eradicate all cranial bands/helmets”. Look for a therapist and a practice that has all tools available so that your baby receives what will help him or her the most. This includes being able to communicate and educate you the parent so that you can make decisions that reflect what you desire for your infant and family
- A facility that offers cranial bands only and does not offer therapy. It can be a piecemeal experience for a family to get therapy at one company and a cranial band at another.
Hopefully this post helps you make the right decision. A note on receiving intervention early. Seeking out therapy as soon as noted is the most effective and least expensive way to address it.
*We understand that our blog posts are read in many different parts of the country or internationally and we know that there are many wonderful therapists who can contribute to helping your infant. Please don’t fret if you do not have access to a practice that offers everything mentioned here! Carolina Kinder Development is the only practice in the nation that offers all aspects of care and this level of expertise. We recommend educating yourself on what sets a therapist and a practice apart in this highly specialized area and then find the best that you can within the parameters available to you. Our hope is to help you make decide whether to drive a little further or spend more. Information is power and it’s our goal to equip you!