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When her second child, Jonas, turned out to be a great sleeper, Shayna Gutierrez was thrilled. "As a mom of two, I was like, 'Awesome! He is such a good baby!'" she told TODAY Parents. "I would feed him and then lay him back down as I healed from his delivery and tended to my 2-year-old."
But Jonas, now 4 months, who was born with a head in the 99th percentile for size, quickly developed a flat spot on the back of his large noggin. "There is a chance that his head even experienced some pressure and shaping in the womb because he was so big," said Gutierrez, and all his good sleeping habits just made it worse.
By his 4-month check-up, Jonas's pediatrician near their home in San Antonio, Texas, was concerned and referred the family to a specialist. It turned out that Jonas has a severe case of brachycephaly, a condition similar to plagiocephaly in which a baby's skull is flattened in the back and causes the head to widen. "His head grew so rapidly that it had started actually pushing his head out to the sides," said his mom. "It is even affecting his face shape and could distort his features if left untreated."
Luckily, there is an easy fix: Jonas was fitted for a helmet last week that will shape and mold his head for the next 3 to 6 months.
Jonas quickly adjusted to the helmet, his mom said, but his big sister Camila, now 3, was very excited about it. "She immediately wanted her helmet and all of our bike helmets," said Gutierrez. "Now she just regularly asks us to wear ours too."
After Camila asked if she and her dad, Gary, could wear helmets with her baby brother this weekend, the pictures her mom posted on Facebook went viral, and people around the world loved the show of family solidarity.
"We are glad that people find it so sweet, and I love that Camila can be exposed to something valuable like inclusion for those who are 'different,' but the truth is we were just being our normal selves on a normal Saturday morning at home and just giving in to the requests of our 3-year-old who asked us to wear helmets," said Gutierrez, who said she enjoys seeing her daughter interact with her brother in such a loving way.
Though Gutierrez said the helmet is hard to keep clean and "stinks pretty badly from his sweaty head in the awful South Texas heat," she admitted the helmet has more than just the benefit of helping shape her baby's head.
"Let's be honest: having two young kids can be tough, so helmets are probably a good idea anyway," she laughed. "Now I feel a little less anxious if Camila throws her toys and hits Jonas or if he takes a dreaded tumble off the couch.
"Just kidding... kind of."