It can be daunting to consider that your young infant may need some help with their head shape, but here are some tips for receiving ideal care as you begin the journey. But first, know that there are many wonderful therapists that can contribute to helping your infant so please don’t fret should you not have access to a practice that offers everything mentioned here.
A practice that dedicates itself to infants and has occupational and physical therapists with a depth and breadth of skill in this specialized area is ideal. That is, 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 should your baby have a particular need. Therapists who treat infants with head shape issues ideally have advanced training in manual therapy such as cranial sacral or myofascial release; positioning and routines that are developmentally supportive; infant feeding; wide experience for infants that were premature or had other medical issues at birth; kiniesiotaping; and hands on experience with fitting and utilizing cranial bands for those infants that would benefit.
It’s paramount that the therapist be in close partnership with the parents with clear explanations; ability to teach what to do at home; and to explain treatment options as they arise. Ideally the therapist has an approach which recognizes that each family and infant has unique needs, and thus individualizes the content and timing, is in close communication with the parent, sometimes with a text or two needed between sessions to clarify. This highly specialized and holistic approach ensures your infant gets exactly what is needed versus just what a particular therapist may be trained in.
Some therapists are good at positioning and baby development but do not have manual therapy training. Some have a philosophy of “avoid cranial bands always.” Others work in facilities that do cranial bands only and do not offer therapy, making services to the infant limited. Others are orthotists who are well equipped to do cranial bands but have little understanding of the other needs many infants have. By going to a practice where all the therapists have experience and advanced training in all the potential treatment options, a culture of doing precisely what is needed for each baby and family’s needs is inherent. That is, no more and no less than what each infant needs, in close partnership with parents from beginning to end.
Also ideally a therapist will see a minimum of 20 babies a week ensuring ideal care with the best outcomes in the shortest amount of time. This level of treatment is not available in all localities and there are many great therapists that don’t cover the whole span. Just find the best that you can within the parameters available to you.