We sat at his 9-month-old “Well Baby” check-up with a brand new pediatrician. Our family had recently moved and I was just lining up doctors and dentists for our family. Hunter sat in my lap, impressing the doctor with his waving and clapping. He even managed to call me, “Mama,” and I beamed with pride at my little boy. I know it’s silly to feel like your child is “advanced” before they even reach their first birthday, but that doesn’t stop a mom from getting excited when all of those early benchmarks are so easily checked off.
Then, I placed Hunter on the ground so that he could give his grand finale. Without a warning, my little boy stood up and walked right across the room to the doctor. He practically jogged over, his hands out-stretched, ready to stiff arm anything that got in his way.
Nine months old and my son was a walking baby. The problem, however, was that he was also falling and hitting his head on a daily basis.
Why is it that babies always smash their heads in the same spot? Over and over again, he hits the top right-hand side of his forehead. At this point, I’m seriously worried about a concussion. How do you tell if an infant has a concussion? All they do is sleep and puke and seem slightly dizzy.
So when my son showed off his walking skills, I couldn’t help but look up at the doctor and ask, “Is there any way we could get him a helmet?” I was half-joking. Almost joking. The pediatrician chuckled as if it was super funny. I explained, “I never had this problem with my first. He’s just fearless. And I’m kind of concerned that he’ll give himself a concussion.” Again the chuckle. This time I really wasn’t joking. “No… seriously.”
With that paternal and slightly condescending tone that must be taught med school, our pediatrician assured me that my little guy wasn’t falling that far when he slipped and knocked his head on the floor. He said that unless Hunter was falling down the stairs, I really didn’t have to worry about a concussion. It wasn’t going to happen just from the bumps and bruises that come with a baby walking.
I listened to the doctor’s words and tried to assure myself that my little guy wasn’t going to knock himself unconscious. At the same time, in the back of my head, I was thinking about the helmet we almost bought to help with my son’s mild case of plagiocephaly. That’s where an infant’s head had a flat spot and it’s often treated with the use of an orthopedic helmet. Hunter’s case wasn’t serious, so we hadn’t gotten him the gear. Now, I was kind of wishing we had.
My first child was an early walker, too. By her first birthday, she could make her way across the room. But Hannah seemed a little more careful. She at least held on to furniture or used a toy for stability. With her, I was mindful, but I didn’t have nightmares about skull fractures.
Hunter is a completely different story. There’s just no hesitation. And he doesn’t even bother with toys that you’re supposed to walk behind and hold on to. The kid is a Lone Wolf! He doesn’t want any help.
My son might not need a helmet to keep him safe from head trauma, but the device would still have a medical purpose if we got one. It would bring my blood pressure down.