If you scrutinize the head of your baby, you will notice spots that are softer than the rest of the head. These are called fontanelles. There are two fontanelles that are named on the basis of their positioning on the head. They are the anterior fontanelle and the posterior fontanelle.
Even while skull bones are the strongest, there is a reason why the baby fontanelles are soft. They facilitate safe and easy childbirth. They allow the head to squeeze and move out of the narrow birth canal by decreasing the size of the head. As the baby grows up, these soft spots disappear because the skull bones take shape and join each other.
The soft spots are found on the top as well as the back of the head. The top one is called the anterior fontanelle and hardens when the baby is around a year old. The posterior fontanelle lies at the back of the head and is not very conspicuous. It closes within 6-7 weeks of childbirth.
Here is all you need to know about the soft spots or fontanelles:
You will observe the anterior fontanelle pulsating. This is normal and syncs with the baby’s heartbeat.
The closing is a gradual process that progresses with the growth of the baby. The soft skull gets harder as the baby ages.
Exercising care and precaution is mandatory when you are handling the baby’s head. Here is how you can take care of the spot spots:
• Be gentle when you wash or oil their head, do not rub vigorously.
• You must visit a doctor if the anterior fontanelle takes time to close.
• An abnormally deep or large fontanelle or too much pulsation also requires immediate medical attention.
• A bulging fontanelle is also a sign of a problem, and you must consult your doctor if you observe something like that.
• If the anterior fontanelle looks too deep and the baby has not been drinking enough or shows signs of loose motions, it indicates dehydration, and you must visit the doctor immediately.
• Keep the head covered when the weather is too cold.
• A gentle head massage keeps the fontanelle warm.
• Delay in the closure of fontanelles may be due to conditions such as Down's syndrome or dwarfism, and you should hurry to your doctor if you observe a delay.
• Premature closure of the fontanelle is also a red flag and may lead to skull development issues.
• Take care to avoid any injury on the soft spots
The good news, however, is that these fragile looking spots aren’t that vulnerable. They have a protective sturdy membrane that makes them strong enough to endure gentle touch and handling. If you follow basic precautions and keep looking out for abnormalities, there is nothing to worry.
While you should let them be, it is a good practice to keep looking out for any anomalies as it might indicate several underlying conditions.