The soft spots found on your baby’s head are called fontanelles. They are divided into two categories on the basis of their placement, namely the anterior fontanelle and the posterior fontanelle.
The skull is one of the most important bones of the human body, and one of the strongest too – a necessity, considering that it shields the brain, the most important organ of the human body. However, if you’ve noticed a newborn baby’s head, you’ll see that the head is relatively soft, so much so that they have soft spots (usually two of them) on their scalp. While this may seem bizarre, the fact is that it is nature’s way of aiding a safe and easy delivery of the child during childbirth.
What Are Fontanelles or Soft Spot on the Skull in Infants?
The head is the biggest part of a newborn baby, and to aid smooth passage through the birth canal of the mother during the delivery of the child, a process called moulding takes place. It is during this process that the fontanelles of the newborn or the baby head soft spot come into the picture.
The fontanelles of the skull help in changing the shape of the new born’s head, whereby the head moulds itself to be able to squeeze its way out through the narrow birth canal. The anterior and posterior fontanelle closures change shape, slightly decreasing the size of the head.
Eventually, the soft spots disappear, once the bones of the skull join together and take shape.
Where Are the Soft Spots Found on Baby’s Head?
The anterior and posterior fontanelles closure or the baby head are found on the top and the back of the baby’s head.
The anterior fontanelle is soft, almost fleshy, and on the top of the head. It closes after about one year after the birth of the child.
The posterior fontanelle is a little less obvious as opposed to the anterior fontanelle. It is at the base of the baby’s head and usually closes after about six to seven weeks after the birth of the child.
The fontanelles of the skull disappear once and for all as the head develops and the skull is formed completely.
A lot of parents find the baby’s soft spot pulsing at times – this is a pretty common phenomenon and there’s nothing to worry about. While the pulsing of your baby’s soft spot is not a cause for immediate concern, you can consult your doctor if the pulsing is too pronounced. This pulsing corresponds with the baby’s heartbeat, so if anything, a consistent pulsing would mean that the baby’s heartbeat is relatively normal.
Why Do Babies Have Soft Spots on Their Heads
A soft spot on the baby’s skull enables the easy passage of the baby during labour. In addition, it also provides an indication of any complication that the baby might have.
When Does Closing of Fontanelles Happen?
The soft spot or anterior and posterior fontanelles closure will take place gradually, with the growth of the child. The skull of a newborn baby is relatively soft and begins to harden only after birth.
The posterior fontanelles close after about six to eight weeks after birth. This soft spot is the triangular area that you will find at the back of the baby’s head.
The anterior fontanelle, on the other hand, takes a little longer to close, what with a duration of about 18 to 20 weeks, which is a good one year after the birth of the child.
What Precautions Do You Need to Take While Handling a Newborn?
There is so much more to handling a baby than just feeding and changing diapers. The one thing that every adult has to remember while handling a newborn baby is to be gentle. This holds true especially while handling the baby’s head.
A new born’s head continues to develop up to about a year after his birth. The skull is not well developed and formed yet, and while the fontanelles of a newborn have tissues that cover the brain, it is still imperative that you handle the head with care.
Make sure your baby’s head is covered, especially during the winter and if it’s cold. A gentle head massage during bath will help too.
Make sure you check the baby’s head for any signs or indications of complication.
Is It Normal if the Soft Spot Looks Different Than Usual?
If the soft spot is slightly indented, it is an indication of the baby being dehydrated. Water is essential for a child, so make sure you keep your little one hydrated at all times. However, if the indentation is too much, it could indicate malnutrition.
A large or wide fontanelle is usually seen in premature babies, but if you feel that the soft spot is too large, then consult your doctor at the earliest as it can be a sign of complications like meningitis, encephalitis or other health issues.
What if It Takes Longer for the Closure of Fontanelles?
The anterior soft spot closes at an average of eighteen weeks, while the posterior fontanelle closes at about six to eight weeks. A delay in the closure of the baby’s soft spot is an indication of disorders like dwarfism, metabolic issues, hydrocephalus and Down’s syndrome.
What if a Soft Spot on Baby’s Head Closes Too Soon?
Premature closure of fontanelles can lead to complications as well. The pressure in the head increases if the soft spots close too soon, and disorders like craniosynostosis, abnormal skull development and head shape are associated with this. Consult your doctor in case of premature closure of fontanelles.
While the baby’s soft spots close on their own in a while without any extra care or effort, it is advisable to watch out for these two warning signs:
- Too Much Depression: This can indicate that the baby is very dehydrated
- A Larger-Than-Ordinary Bulge: In rare cases, this may indicate a swelling in the brain. It can be a cause of concern if it is accompanied by fever and/or lethargy, or if it occurs after the baby has sustained an injury to the head
The soft spot on your baby’s head is nature’s way of helping the child make its way through the birth canal, but that’s not all there is to it. The fontanelles can help indicate any underlying disorders or complications that the child is likely to face, or is suffering. So make sure you’re aware of the baby skull soft spot on your child’s head.