Kids' Health

That Soft Spot On Your Baby’s Skull, Explained

Send this to some big old softie.

Originally Published: 
Flickr / Lau Ardelean

Your baby’s brain is going to be huge. Really tremendous. In fact, it’ll eventually weigh around 3 pounds. And more than that, they’ll probably use it better than you use yours. So let that be the consolation for the fact they’re they’re soft in the head now. Which they are. Literally. Don’t let it freak you out.

Of course, you’ve heard of babies’ soft spots before. And your normal inclination might be to buy the kid a helmet because who knows what could happen in this crazy world! But before you go out and give your little one some helmet hair, check out these top soft spot facts.

The Fontanelle Head

Your kid isn’t born with just one major soft spot, they’re born with 2 (well, actually 4, but the other ones are non-issues). The one you’re most familiar with occupies a small portion of their noggin up front. The other is smaller and in the back of their head. So in this instance the party is up front.

The scientific term for these soft spots is fontanelle. They are formed by the gaps between the bones that make up your kid’s skull. The gaps are there for a couple reasons: they let the head deform as it goes through the birth canal and they allow the brain to grow rapidly. The brain grows way faster than bone, so there would be problems if there wasn’t space in there to do it’s thing. Also why you switched to boxers. Same principle at work.

By 24 months all fontanelles will normally be closed.

Fontenelle Fright

Many parents are affected by an anxiety that they, or the kid, could inadvertently poke through the soft spot. You need to quash that fear. It will most likely not happen. Fibrous tissue covers the gaps. The tissue allows you to comb and wash your baby’s hair and touch your baby’s head while saying, “Ewwwww, their brain is, like, right there!”

This is not to say the fontanelle is completely free of weirdness. In fact, you may see it pulsing. That’s not your baby’s brain trying to escape. And doctors will tell you it’s completely “normal,” but their standards for normality are clearly jacked.

Soft Spot And Sickness

There are times where you might want to be concerned with the state of your baby’s soft spot. Here are two things to look for:

  • Sunken Spot: Extreme dehydration could be indicated by a sunken fontanelle. Especially when accompanied by dry diapers and vomiting. Call the doc.
  • Swollen Spot: A fontanelle that bulges and looks swollen (and remains so), could be a sign of an infection like meningitis. A doctor’s visit is in order.

The upshot here is that you should have a soft spot for the soft spot. It means your baby’s brain is going to be, really, the best brain. Everyone will say so.

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