What are fontanelles? You should know that about it
Have you heard the term before? But what are fontanelles actually? A fontanel is a gap in the baby’s skull. Admittedly, not a nice idea. It is a great invention of nature.
We explain why this is so here!
What are fontanelles?
When you’ve petted your baby’s head, you’ve already noticed how the hard skull suddenly becomes soft in one place. Fontanelles is a clever invention of nature. In fact, newborns do not have a completely closed skull. Sounds weird? But it makes a lot of sense.
The skull thus consists of several movable bone plates. The areas where two of these bone plates meet are called skull sutures.
Fontanelles are the so-called crossing points of cranial sutures, ie the soft spots that you have already felt.
What are fontanelles good for?
As the size of the pelvis changed over the course of evolution, it also became significantly tighter for babies at birth. The (still) open areas on the baby’s head allow the baby to fit through the narrow birth canal at birth.
Another important task of the fontanelles is to enable the child’s brain to grow unhindered. Otherwise it would otherwise be restricted in its size.
Since the baby’s thermoregulatory system has yet to fully develop, you should always make sure that your baby’s head stays nice and warm.
What do I have to consider?
The connective tissue of the fontanelles is very robust and not as sensitive as it might appear. Nevertheless, you should make sure that your baby does not receive any bumps in this area.
Already knew? The large fontanel is actually a good indicator of your baby’s health. This way you can also tell if your baby is dehydrated. If this is the case, the fontanel would visibly sink when lying down.
If your baby has a fever, other illnesses or injuries, the fontanel is either tense or bulging.
As soon as you notice this, you should see a doctor immediately!
How can I tell that everything is okay?
Your baby has a total of six fontanels. The five smaller fontanelles close quickly. The large fontanel above your baby’s forehead, on the other hand, behaves differently. This can be felt very easily with the fingers.
You don’t need to worry about the fontanels. The skull plates of your baby are connected with a robust connective tissue, which provides sufficient protection.
But still pay attention to the following:
- If you hold your baby upright, the fontanel will be flat or slightly sunken
- When your baby is lying down, it will be flat or bulge out slightly
- If you stroke it gently, the area will feel soft
Could you answer all questions with “yes”? Then everything is probably all right. However, if you are still unsure, it is better to contact your pediatrician or midwife.
Caution: If the large fontanel bulges outwards in an upright position, sinks significantly when lying down or feels permanently tense, you should contact your pediatrician immediately.
This could possibly be a serious illness.
When do fontanelles close?
As you already know, your baby has five small fontanels and one large one. The first five close from the first week of life. As a rule, they have completely disappeared by the time they are one year old.
The large fontanel that forms a dimple on the forehead takes a little longer to completely disappear. On average, this takes about 18 to 23 months until the large fontanel is completely closed and forms a unit with the top of the skull.
However, this process differs from child to child. Deviations are completely normal and not a cause for concern.
Your doctor will also regularly check the progress of the fontanelles as part of the preventive medical check-up.
If you see these signs, you should see a doctor
You can tell from these characteristics that something is wrong. For example, if the fontanel …
… clearly collapsed while lying down
Did your baby drink enough today? It could be an acute lack of fluids.
… arches even when the baby is upright.
This could be a sign of inflammation, such as meningitis.
… is taut and does not give in when pressure is applied
This could indicate increased pressure in the skull, which could be a sign of hydrocephalus (water head).
If this is the case, if your child has a fever, vomits or suffers from diarrhea, or you notice other irregularities, please see the pediatrician immediately. He can quickly assess whether there is a health risk for your baby. Basically, your pediatrician or midwife is always the right contact if you are unsure.
Craniosynostosis – What is it?
If the cranial sutures close too early, the skull may become deformed. One speaks of a craniosynostosis, in which the skull can grow crooked, tower-like or triangular.
Surgery can fix this deformation. According to a 2011 study by University College London, children whose mothers smoked while pregnant were 33 percent more likely to suffer from craniosynostosis.
Deformations due to the lying position
Since the bone plates are still very soft, especially in the first few months, it is important not to only load them on one side.
Many parents just lay their baby on their back to sleep for fear of sudden infant death syndrome.
But in the long run this can lead to a deformation of the skull.
The most important thing is that parents always lay their child down in different positions so that the child cannot develop a preferred sleeping position.
What are fontanelles – the most important things at a glance
As you already know, fontanelles have an extremely important task, especially during childbirth: the birth is made easier by sliding the bone plates on top of one another. Otherwise, your baby’s head would not fit through the birth canal.
Your baby has a total of 6 fontanels. Two main fountain and four small ones. In addition, they enable the baby to have unrestricted growth in the brain.
Of course, it can unsettle you when you notice that your baby has a dent in its head.
But this is perfectly normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.
However, it is different for each child how quickly the fontanelles grow closed. If in doubt, you can contact the pediatrician.
Find more articles in our categories Baby & Family et Maternity.
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