What's A Soft Spot And What Are The Dangers Associated With Your Baby's Soft Spot?
Your baby's soft spot or fontanelle is very delicate and should be treated accordingly.
Now that your newborn baby is here, you may wonder about the soft spot on your baby's head; and why you should treat it with care. You have probably heard that the soft spot is very important and that mismanaging it could lead to problems for your baby. But what's a soft spot?
But before we go into the possible dangers with the soft spot, there’s a need to understand why your baby’s head is soft at birth and the functions of this part of their body.
What's a soft spot and what does it do?
Your baby’s soft spot shows where the skull has not closed completely at birth. These soft spots are called fontanels. It might interest you to know that your baby has one soft spot at the top of their head and another one at the back, making it two soft spots on one tiny head.
- Your baby’s brain will still grow after birth, so these spots allow for the brain to expand rapidly after they are born
- A baby’s head is able to pass through the birth canal because the soft spots make the skull flexible enough to mould and change shape as it navigates the tight birth canal
Neonatal experts say that the bigger, diamond-shaped soft spot situated at the top of the baby’s head can be as wide as 2 inches. The closing process starts around when the baby is six months old; and closes completely when the baby is 18 months old.
As mentioned before, there is a second soft spot at the back of the head; so you should be aware of soft spot on baby head dangers. The soft spot at the back of the head is a lot harder to find; but is triangular in shape and only about half-inch wide.
Your baby’s fontanels will often pulsate in time to his heartbeat, so you shouldn’t be scared when you see this happening.
Dr. Tia Hubbard, nursery paediatrician at the University of California at San Diego Medical Center, tells you not to worry, and that soft spots are tougher than you think.
“It is supposed to be soft because it allows for the rapid growth of the brain that occurs in the first year of life. But you can touch it; it’s not that fragile,” she tells WebMD.
The soft spots have such unique coverings. The thick fibrous membranes form a protective layer to protect your baby’s growing brain.
Protecting baby's soft spot from danger
Your baby’s soft spot has a protective layer; but this covering notwithstanding, you and other caregivers should try not to bounce the baby roughly or shake them. Ensure that no one—curious children included—pokes the baby’s fontanel.
What's a fontanelle? How to know when something is wrong
If you find that the baby’s fontanel bulges out, maybe there is a lot of pressure on the baby’s brain. This could become a life-threatening condition, so you definitely need to take the baby to the doctor.
Some babies would tilt their heads to one side frequently, and this could be as a result of an underlying problem. To rule out a muscular condition called torticollis, you should take the child to see a paediatrician. In most cases, doctors treat this with physical therapy; to stretch the muscles and help the baby change the position of their head without discomfort.
In some very rare cases, a baby may develop craniosynostosis. This is a condition where two or more plates in the baby’s head fuse together. This can change the shape of the baby’s head; because the brain is growing and disfiguring the baby’s head because of a lack of space. Medical experts will recommend surgery to separate the plates that had fused together.
The head is a very sensitive part of your baby’s body, and so, you should handle it with care. The soft spot will close on its own without any problem; but it is important to make sure nothing disturbs it. If you notice anything out of the ordinary about your baby’s fontanel, please take the baby to a doctor immediately!
Resources: What to Expect