As-real-as-it-gets Chrissy Teigen is back at it again, reassuring us one Instagram post at a time that even celebrities are not immune to the trials and tribulations of real life. This time she’s comforting moms with her openness over the fact that her son six-month-old son, Miles, will need to wear a foam-form helmet to help reshape his skull into normal symmetry. Just last night she posted an adorable photo of Miles wearing the helmet, which helps treat the condition known as plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome.
“My baby bug got his head shaping helmet today! Please don’t feel bad for him if you see photos. He is a happy bug and we’re just fixing his flat,” she wrote on Instagram.
In a matter of minutes, the post had over 40,000 likes, and less than 24 hours later, it’s up to 1.3 million (and counting) — a pretty impressive feat, even for this social media sensation. The reason it’s gotten so much feedback (both positive and negative, of course) is likely because we hardly see parents posting photos of their baby’s wearing this self-correcting helmet at all, even though it’s incredibly common.
“I have seen these helmets, but I am not sure why babies need to wear them,” one follower commented.
The condition affects as many as 1 in 5 babies, says Jen Trachtenberg, MD, a renowned parenting expert, Manhattan-based pediatrician, and creator of Pediatrician In Your Pocket. “Parents often feel that it’s their fault that the flattened area occurred, be it from delivery or whatnot, and they worry that the condition won’t resolve itself and that the head will become even more misshapen,” she explains. Others feel the helmet isn’t necessary, an extreme measure even, and that the baby will be uncomfortable wearing it.
While some fans criticized the decision, Teigen was keen on showing other parents that the helmet is nothing to be ashamed of and is a common form of therapy. “Good morning trolls! Just a friendly reminder that you do not indeed know absolutely everything,” she Tweeted to critics. And her positive posts worked, prompting other parents to share stories and pictures of their baby wearing the helmet, creating a sort of community of moms supporting one another — something that’s hardly seen on the social media platform these days.
When mom-of-two Tiffany Nye first got the news that her now two-year-old son had to wear a helmet, she was petrified. Not only had she had never read or heard anything about plagiocephaly, but she didn’t know a single person whose child had the condition. “Once my son got the helmet and people saw us out and about, they would comment on how they knew someone who had a helmet at some point, so I began to realize that it’s more common than I thought,” she tells Glam. “They let us pick out any color for the helmet and you can also design it to make it look cute, so it doesn’t seem so bad — plus, he looked so cute in his helmet!”
Helmets suck. I mean, not as much as having a wonky head, but I’m so glad these days are over! Godspeed, all you mamas and your helmet-headed kiddos. pic.twitter.com/kXIcjZs0Nf
— Ashley J (@rien713) December 4, 2018
It’s important to note that, in addition to flat head syndrome being incredibly common, the need for babies to wear such helmets is merely cosmetic and not to correct a dangerous condition, says Michael Muhonen, MD, pediatric neurosurgeon at CHOC Children’s in Orange Country, CA. “There is no evidence that the flat spots affect the brain,” he says. “They usually occur on the back of the infant’s head and are more pronounced on the one side. Treatment of plagiocephaly will depend on your baby’s age, symptoms, and how severe the condition is.”
In most cases, Dr. Muhonen explains that frequent repositioning away from the flat side of the head will quickly correct plagiocephaly, so the cranial molding helmet isn’t always necessary. Teigen later tweeted that Miles had been seeing a physical therapist before opting for the helmet and will continue doing muscle work in addition to wearing the protective headgear. In the meantime, we can expect to see him suited up for another three to six months, which is the average course of treatment.