Kids

All about your baby’s fontanelle

If you run your fingers gently across your baby's head, you may feel a couple of soft spots. These spots are completely normal.

If you do not have much experience with newborns, soft spots may make you nervous, but they are easy to care for and generally close correctly on their own. All babies have a “soft spot” on their head called a fontanelle. Your baby’s head will have a few of them – especially at the top and back of the head – where the skull bones have not fused together yet.

The biggest soft spot is the anterior fontanelle on top and slightly to the front of your little one’s head. The second biggest is the posterior fontanelle, situated on the midline of the curved rear surface of the skull. There are also two much smaller ones on the sides of the head, but to most people, these are not even detectable.

Why babies have soft spots

The fontanels give a baby’s head the flexibility it needs to squeeze through the narrow birth canal. After birth, they stay open long enough to accommodate your baby’s growing brain. The soft spots won’t fuse until your baby is about two years old, says Dr Miriam Stoppard in her book New BabyCare. While your little one’s scalp covers this space, make sure that you never press the fontanelle too hard.

You don’t need to take any special care of the skin and hair that covers the fontanelle. Just be gentle over this area when washing your baby’s hair. If, however, you notice that the skin is taut over the area, if there’s a bulge, or if the fontanelle area is abnormally shrunken, call your doctor immediately.  

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