What are the soft spots on my baby's head?

Your baby’s skull is divided into 3 parts. The main part, the vault, contains the brain and is made up of 5 main bones with gaps between them. The gaps are joined by membranes called sutures. They also have anterior and posterior fontanelles, referred to as soft spots, which are flexible to allow your baby to pass through the birth canal.

A fontanelle is a membraneous space where two or more sutures meet between the cranial bones of your newborn baby. They will have one on the top of the head towards the front known as the anterior fontanelle, which is diamond shaped and one at the back of the head called the posterior fontanelle, which is small and triangular in shape. The posterior fontanelle is much less noticeable and closes within the first few months of life. While the anterior fontanelle is more noticeable and takes up to 18 months to fully close.

During your internal examination in labour your midwife can sometimes feel the fontanelles and tell which way round baby is lying.

The anterior fontanelle is more commonly known as the baby’s soft spot. When your midwife examines your baby, both in the hospital and at home, they will gently feel the anterior fontanelle as it can sometimes indicate that your baby is unwell. So if for example they become dehydrated, the anterior fontanelle may look like it is slightly sunken. This on its own is not a sign of illness and is only part of an overall examination.

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