Holding your newborn for the first time is a surreal experience. Along with the joy and happy tears you have, you’re also going to be very careful holding your little one because of how delicate and fragile he looks.
One of the soft spots you’ll notice on your baby will be his head. Your newborn will have a really soft head - with two prominent soft spots - one in the front and one in the back. This might confuse or even worry you about your baby, but it is normal for babies to have these soft spots. Here’s what you should know about the soft spots on your baby’s head.
What is it called?
The soft spots are called fontanelles, and they’re at the front as well as back of your baby’s head - called the anterior (front) and posterior (back) fontanelles. There are also fontanelles on the side of your baby’s head, called sphenoid and mastoid fontanelles.
Fontanelles are the soft gap between your baby’s skull bones. These spots have connective fibrous tissue or sutures which connect the skull bones to each other.
New parents often worry about them because the softness in this spot makes the veins slightly visible under the skin, but it is a normal occurrence in newborns.
Why is your newborn’s head soft?
The fibrous tissue in these soft spots holds your baby’s skull bones together, while also allowing them to move apart. This is important so that your baby’s skull can grow and allow the brain to grow too.
Though the spots feel soft, they are protected by a membrane, so simply touching the soft spot cannot hurt your baby, although you do have to treat your baby’s head with great care for the first few months or until the baby is a year old.
How long will the softness last?
The doctor will regularly check the fontanelles in the first years of the baby to make sure that your child’s bones are growing properly, as well as to avoid premature closure of the fontanels. The period during which the baby has these soft spots, allows the baby’s brain to grow and develop. The fontanelles could close prematurely in some rare cases, resulting in a condition called craniosynostosis, which results in an abnormal head shape and impairs brain growth.
But on average, the fontanelles close around the following times:
- The posterior fontanelle (back) closes around 2 to 3 months after birth.
- The sphenoidal and mastoid fontanelles (on the side of the head) close around the age of 6 months, and can take up to a year to close.
- The anterior fontanelle (front) closes last, around the age of 18 to 24 months.
The fontanelles close, accompanied by the bones becoming more rigid.
A Heartbeat In The Soft Spot?
Sometimes, the soft spot in the front might look like it has a heartbeat, but this is normal too, and the reason for this is because the bones have not fused together in this spot yet.
More About The Fontanelles
The fontanelles are also important for your child during birth. They allow the bony skull plates to flex, so that the baby’s head can pass through the birth canal. The feel of the fontanelles also helps doctors determine whether your baby is dehydrated (flat fontanelle) or has too much pressure in the skull cavity (bulging fontanelle).
So don’t worry about your baby’s head being soft, or about the small pulse you feel under his skin. These are normal. After all, doesn’t that soft head make your baby all the more cute and super lovable?
What did you think when you first felt the soft spots on your little one’s head? Comment and see what the other mommies have to say too!