Baby skull anatomy
A baby's skull is designed to be soft and flexible for the birthing process. The baby's head is typically the most difficult part to deliver during childbirth (ask any mother).
What is molding?
The baby's skull is made of several plates that can be pushed closer together or further apart during childbirth. This "molding" of the head allows the baby's head to pass through the mother's pelvis. Molding often gives a newborn child a "funny-shaped" head. In some cases, the skull plates will overlap shortly after birth, creating obvious ridges. The head regains a normal appearance after a few days or weeks.
What are fontanelles?
Fontanelles are "soft spots" on the baby's head that are formed by the gaps between skull plates. The brain is protected by tough fibrous tissue in these areas. A baby is born with 6 fontanelles: 2 sphenoidal fontanelles, 2 mastoid fontanelles, a posterior fontanelle and an anterior fontanelle. The anterior and posterior fontanelles are typically the only ones that can be felt by examining a baby's head.
What are skull sutures?
The "sutures" of the skull are where the skull plates meet. They are called "sutures" because of their zig-zag appearance.
When do the fontanelles close?
The posterior fontanelle typically closes within about 3 months.
The anterior fontanelle typically closes between 3 and 18 months of age.
Why does my pediatrician always feel the top of my baby's head?
Pediatrician's are trained to check the fontanelles (especially the anterior fontanelle) of all baby's who still have them. The fontanelle should be soft and flat. A bulging fontanelle may indicate increased pressure within the skull. A sunken fontanelle may indicated dehydration.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 04 August 2009 16:14)