Is My Baby's Head Okay?
Some of the most frequent comments parents make after seeing their newborn baby are:
“Is my baby’s head ok?”
“Will it always look like this?”
“Do we need to buy a lot of hats?
Well the good news is, more likely than not, your baby’s head is absolutely fine. But, feel free to buy as many hats as you like if your baby is born during winter months, or if you love to shop.
Babies have many different appearances after birth. They may be red, bruised, pale and blue. Their heads may appear long and irregularly shaped. They basically can appear as if they were in a bad fight but lost. Being born is hard work for both mother and baby.
A baby’s skull is very moveable and has bones that have not yet grown together allowing the baby’s large head to pass through the birth canal. Molding is the term often used to describe the elongated appearance of the head. A baby has two soft spots called the fontanels. The anterior fontanel is located in the top of your baby’s head and is diamond shaped and easy to feel. This fontanel will usually close at about 18 months of life and is checked at well child visits. A smaller soft spot is at the back of your baby’s head and is called the posterior fontanel. This fontanel is smaller and you may not be able to feel it at all. It will usually close in about 6- 8 weeks. The fontanels not only serve in allowing the baby to pass through the birth canal, they also allow for the very rapid brain growth that occurs in the baby’s first year of life. The shape of the baby’s head will start to improve within days, but may take weeks or months to return to a rounded normal appearance.
There are certain medical conditions that must be taken seriously if symptoms occur in the newborn period. Sunken fontanels and diarrhea may indicate dehydration in the newborn. Bulging of the fontanels with fever and high pitched cry are a cause for concern for meningitis. Early closure of the fontanels and fusion may require surgical intervention. Contact your baby’s pediatrician if you have questions or concerns about your baby’s fontanels.