You are still basking in the excitement of being a new mummy, holding your precious baby in your arms and you notice the top of baby’s head, just at the crown, is throbbing. Yes, it seems like baby’s heart is also beating through his or her head and you can see it. It is not a cause for alarm, here are 5 things to know about baby’s throbbing soft spot on the head.
Baby’s Throbbing Soft Spot On The Head
Any new mother who has seen this happen to their child will agree it is one of the scariest things. I experienced this when my daughter was born. It is normal to be anxious, but do not be afraid. What you see as baby’s head beating, is called ‘The Soft Spot’ which is also called the ‘Fontanel’.
According to Columbia University Medical Center – Columbia Neurosurgeons “The fontanel, is one of several gaps between the bones of the skull that, in addition to allowing the skull to expand, are constantly producing new bone to keep up with this growth”. This gap or gaps makes provision for baby’s brain which is growing.
What to Know About the Soft Spot
First, you need to know that there are two soft spots on baby’s head. The Anterior fontanel (in front) and the Posterior fontanel (at the back of the head). The posterior fontanel closes first, usually by the time baby is 4 months, it should stop pulsating. The anterior fontanel will close up by the time the baby is about 2 years old. However, you should note that each baby is different and these timelines are a guide. Always talk to your doctor if you have any concerns. [Read: 5 Myths many First Time Mums Believe]
Soft Spot Throbbing
The action of the soft spot can be described as ‘Pulsating’ or ‘Throbbing’. It moves with a rhythm similar to the baby’s heartbeat.
Potential for Injury
You will not break baby’s head if you touch it as the soft spot is protected by a strong membrane. Do remember that your hand will come in contact with your baby’s head several times during the course of the day. This is normal contact such as when washing baby’s head but do not press the soft spot, to avoid injury.
Soft Spot Signals
The pulsating fontanel can tell you a number of things about your baby. For example, if it is indented or caved-in this is a sign of dehydration. If it is protruding or bulging – it may be a sign of head injury, fluid around the brain or an infection. Do call your doctor immediately if you notice it is bulging.
However do note that when your baby is crying or vomits, the fontanel may bulge out a little, so do not be alarmed. You should make sure that your baby has enough water to drink during the day.
Length of Time Before Closure
There are no magical solutions that will make the soft spot disappear. In Nigeria, traditional herbal solutions (like Agbo in the Southwest) or Palm Kernel Oil (Ude Aki in the Southeast) are often applied to the pulsating fontanel. Usage of these and other ointments are only for your comfort as a mother; they will not make the soft spot disappear. It is important to keep baby, free of infections, as their immune system is building up.
I hope this will help you worry less about your baby’s soft spot. Enjoy motherhood!
Contributed by Chinelo Okoli; a Marketing professional who works at a global research agency by day and is a freelance writer by night.
**originally posted April, 2016