The soft spot (anterior fontanelle) is located at the front of a baby’s skull and it is very important. Babies also have a smaller soft spot at the back of their skulls (posterior fontanelle), along with multiple other smaller fontanelles. A baby’s skull is made up of several pieces of bones that are connected together by sutures. There are gaps between these bones and they are called fontanelles.
I usually have parents come in to the clinic and they mention that they are ‘freaked’ out by this piece of their child’s anatomy. They are scared to touch it and it can sometimes be seen pulsating.
The fontanelle may be soft to touch, but it is covered by a sturdy membrane which aims keeps the area safe. This means you can gently touch the soft spot and you will be doing so when bathing your child and washing their scalp.
You may notice changes in the fontanelle when your child is straining to pass a bowel motion, crying or is dehydrated. It may even pulsate with the baby’s beating heart.
IMPORTANCE OF THE FONTANELLES-
- Allows for flexibility of the skull bones when birth occurs through the birth canal.
- Accommodates the growing brain.
- Allows for moulding of the skull bones with growth. Some babies may develop a flat spot on their skulls as a result of moulding.
- Give an insight in to a child’s health and development.
- Can help monitor dehydration.
WHEN DOES IT CLOSE?
The posterior fontanelle closes quite early, roughly around 2-3 months of age.
The anterior and larger fontanelle is closed by roughly the ages of 18-24 months. In saying this, all babies are different and the closing up of the fontanelles can occur at different times.
At your maternal child health visits, your baby will have their head circumference measured and the maternal child health nurse will inspect the presence of the fontanelles.
This blog post is an educational tool only. It is not a replacement for medical advice from a registered and qualified doctor or health professional.
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