Fontanels or Soft Spots

Fontanels are soft spots found on your newborn's skull; they are the patches where skull bones have not yet met. Fontanels are squishy to touch and seem very vulnerable. In fact, they are made up of a fibrous membrane that protects your baby's brain. There are six fontanels on your newborn's skull, but only two are evident. The larger, diamond shaped fontanel is on the top front of the head while the smaller fontanel is placed at the base of the skull.

What's the Purpose of a Fontanel?
While they seem to make your newborn more vulnerable, fontanels actually make your child's head more sturdy. Without fontanels, your baby's head wouldn't be able to deal with the pressure of passing down the vaginal canal. Otherwise, women's hips would have to be larger or babies would have to be born with smaller brains. In other words, fontanels allow for larger brain capacity.

The Changing Fontanels
Don't be alarmed if you notice that the fontanels on your baby's head change in size. Smaller fontanels tend to get larger, while larger ones often shrink. The fontanels usually close by the time your baby hits 18 months, but as early as 9 to 12 months is perfectly normal. You'll notice that the fontanels close right before your baby starts learning to walk.


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