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

Find out why there are soft spots on the top of your baby's head and when they will close.
When your baby is born you may notice that some parts of your little one's head are slightly soft. We explain all you need to know about what these soft spots are and why they are there.

What are they?

All babies are born with slightly soft spots over areas of their heads, known as fontanelles. There are usually two of them and they can vary in size.

One soft spot will be positioned near the back of baby's head and is triangular in shape. This is called the posterior fontanelle, and is generally quite small and more difficult to feel.

The other soft spot, known as the anterior fontanelle, can be found on the top of your baby's head and is generally larger and diamond-shaped. It can easily be felt as a softer area of skin on your little one's skull.

Although these are widely known as 'soft spots', there is no need to worry that these parts of your baby's head are more open to risk of injury. The softer areas are covered by a tough membrane which protects them while the bones develop.

Why are they there?

The bones of your baby's head are very soft at birth, and connected together by tissue. When your baby is born the bones of his or her head will not quite be connected together.

This is to allow more flexibility during birth. As your baby's head is the largest part of his body, it has the most difficulty passing through the birth canal - but the softness of the bones of his skull allow your baby to pass through more easily.

When your baby is born the soft parts are still visible, and will take some time to close completely.

When will they close?

After your baby is born, the soft spots will not close right away. Eventually however, the bones of your baby's head will meet and join together, and the soft spots will no longer be felt.

The posterior fontanelle, which is the smaller soft spot at the back of your baby's head, usually closes by the time your baby is about 6 weeks old. Your baby's anterior fontanelle, the larger soft spot on the top of his head, will generally close at around 18 months of age.

Your doctor or midwife should check the soft spots regularly in baby's first couple of years, to make sure the bones of his skull are hardening and joining together normally.

Although the soft spots are protected by a thick membrane, you should still be careful not to put pressure on these sensitive areas of your baby's head. If you have other young toddlers or children, try to discourage them from putting any pressure on baby's soft spots too.

However, remember that gently touching your baby's soft spots while washing or caressing won't do any harm.

If you are concerned your baby's soft spots are not joining together as expected or have any other worries, you should contact your healthcare practitioner for advice.

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