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Newborn Basics

Q&A: Soft Spots On A Newborn?

When will the soft spots on my baby’s head close?What do I need to do to protect them?

When babies are born, their skull is made up of many different bones, and soft spots (fontanelles) are the areas where these bones haven't grown together yet. There are two main ones — anterior (ontop, and the main one people refer to as the soft spot) and posterior (on the back of the head, though you might not actually feel this one). You also might feel ridges, where bones are overlapping. Both these things exist to allow your baby's head to mold during the birth process (did you notice your baby's head dramatically change shape during the first days of life?) and then continue to grow while remaining nice and round.

Now, nature isn't dumb — the soft spots are actually very strong and sturdy.You can't hurt your baby's brain or anything else by touching them. In fact, when you shampoo, you need to wash and scrub the soft spot to remove flake buildup — otherwise you'll end up with cradle cap. Yes, soft spots might seem freaky, but there's really nothing to worry about — they serve a good function, and you don't have to treat them any different than the rest of the head. You may notice them until age two or three, though some kids' will close earlier.

By Dr. Vicki Papadeas