Q: Good day Dr Ketch, Please, why do babies’ front head breathe? Thanks for your response
A: Hi dear, thanks for writing in. And congratulations on your brand new baby!
When a baby is born, the skull bones are not completely fused. This ‘lack of fusion’ allows a baby’s relatively big head to pass through the narrow birth canal during delivery. These soft spots are called fontanels and they also accommodate the baby’s rapidly developing brain during infancy.
In front, there is a diamond shaped spot where 4 skull bones (cranial sutures) intersect, called anterior fontanel and there is a smaller one at the back, called posterior fontanel. These are the more conspicuous ones. There are two smaller ones (one on each side of the head).
It is normal for the anterior fontanel to pulsate with baby’s heart beats. We can also tell about the baby’s health by observing the fontanels. If it is sunken, baby may be dehydrated from vomiting or stooling and if it is bulging, it may point increased pressure in the brain as can occur in meningitis. Please note that this fontanel looks ‘full’ when baby is crying. This is normal J don’t go running to a doctor for this one. Scratch that…always consult a doctor when in doubt!
So, leave these fontanels well alone. Don’t rub any special ointment or anything on them 😀 They are not as fragile as they look (so can be washed and touched) as they are covered by a tough protective membrane but don’t go poking there 😀 The posterior fontanel would close off after about 2 months but the anterior fontanel usually closes off after about 18 months.
I hope this helps.
Have a good night y’all 😀