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 beating. Yes, it seems like baby’s heart is also beating through his or her head and you can see it.
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’. It 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.
THINGS TO KNOW
1. 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 baby is 2 years old, at the latest. Note that each baby is different and these timelines are a guide.
2. The action of the soft spot can be described as ‘Pulsating’ or ‘Throbbing’. It moves with a rhythm similar to baby’s heartbeat.
3. You will not break baby’s head if you touch the soft spot. The soft spot is protected by a strong membrane. Remember, your hand will come in contact with your baby’s head several times during the course of the day, like, when washing baby’s head, adjusting baby’s head, etc. However, do not press the soft spot, to avoid injury.
4. The pulsating fontanel can tell you a number of things about baby. If it is indented/caved-in – sign of dehydration. If it is protruding/bulging – it may be a sign of head injury, fluid around the brain or infection. NOTE: when baby is crying or vomits, the fontanel may bulge out a little, so do not be alarmed. Make sure baby has enough water to drink during the day.
5. There are no magical solutions I know, that will make the soft spot disappear overnight. In Nigeria, traditionally prepared herbal solutions (like Agbo in the South west) or Palm Kernel Oil (Ude Aki in the South east) are often applied to the pulsating fontanel. Usage of these and other ointments is for your comfort as a mother and will not make it 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!
By Chinelo Okoli
Chinelo Okoli is a Marketing professional and works at a global research agency by day and is a freelance writer by night. She is married with a daughter. She also shares original content on her blog: www.neloshalo.blogspot.ng