The Fontanelle

The Fontanelle

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  1. Newborn babies are born with a special area on the top of their head where the bones of the skull have not yet fused together. This area is called the fontanelle. More commonly referred to as the "soft spot" of a baby’s head, the fontanelle is an area often unexplained by professionals and more often misunderstood by parents.

    The Skull Bones
    A newborn’s skull is made of five main bones that includes two frontal bones, two parietal bones and one occipital bone. The bones are joined together by fibrous sutures that can expand slightly and allow movement in the skull during childbirth and the first year of a child’s development and growth. By age two, the soft spot on a baby’s head has completely closed over.

    The flexibility in the skull provided by the fontanelle helps facilitate a baby’s movement through the birth canal. Unlike an adult’s head, the baby’s skull can contract slightly, which allows the head to be reshaped under the gentle pressure of the mother’s birth canal. Some babies are born with a slight cone shape to their skull as a result, but the shape usually returns to normal within a few hours or days of birth.

    Health and Safety
    Contrary to popular belief that the fontanelle area is more susceptible to injury, the membrane which covers the area is actually quite tough and protective. The fontanelle area makes medical exams and testing easier for doctors to perform on young babies. During medical examinations, the baby’s brain is much easier to examine via ultrasound imaging machines because the skull bones do not present the same acoustic barrier to the ultrasound machines that a completely fused skull presents.

    As a new parent, you may notice the fontanelle as a slight depression in your baby’s head. You may also see that the area throbs or pulsates in time with your baby’s heartbeat. This is perfectly normal and should not be cause for alarm.

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