Drinking fountains: what they are, when they close and how to control them


  • 1 What a baby's head looks like
  • 2 Drinking fountains: how many and what are they
  • 3 What the fontanelles look like
  • 4 Can the fontanelles be touched?
  • 5 Drinking fountains: when to worry

The head of newborn babies is certainly one of the most delicate points. If you already have children, you will surely have said to someone “watch your head!”. If you are about to become a mom, know that it will happen. Fontanelles in infants require special attention, but don't overdo it.

How a baby's head is made

When the baby is born, the head may appear deformed, often elongated or even pointed. Even if this thing will give you a half heart attack, know that it is all physiological and, within a few days, the shape will become normal.

The skull of newborns is made up of 4 large plates and some softer areas (the fontanelles), where the bones are not yet welded: this is to make it easier for the baby to pass through the vaginal canal at the time of delivery and to allow the brain to triple its volume in the baby's first year of life.

Drinking fountains: how many and what are they

Let's analyze how many and what are the fontanelles in newborns and when they close.

In all there are 6. The front one is located at the top of the head: it is the largest, measuring about 2 by 2 centimeters and has the shape of a rhombus. Typically, it pays off around 18 months. It is through this that, in case of need, it is possible to perform a brain ultrasound.

The posterior fontanel is located behind the skull. Often at birth it is already closed or in any case it is very small (less than 1 × 1 centimeters).

There are then 4 lateral fontanelles (2 anterior and 2 posterior) which close after the 38th week of pregnancy.

What fontanels look like

Of all the fontanelles of newborns, you will have to pay attention only to the anterior one. When the baby is quiet, if you pass a hand over the head, in correspondence with the fontanel you will perceive a slight depression, a kind of depression compared to the surrounding area.

When your baby cries, this fontanel may swell slightly, rise and fall - don't panic as this is absolutely normal. The fontanelles can also be pulsating, and by touching them, heartbeats can be heard, as in the wrist.

Can the fontanelles be touched?

It is usually thought that touching the fontanel can cause pain to the baby or - even worse - some damage to the brain. Let's try to reassure ourselves. The tissues that form the fontanels in newborns are extremely flexible and resistant. So, when you bathe your little one, don't be afraid of hurting him: just rub gently and without exerting pressure. And green light to cuddles and caresses.

Drinking fountains: when to worry

In some cases, the fontanelles can be a sign of something wrong and the child must therefore be examined by the pediatrician. For example, if the front one is very depressed, the baby may be dehydrated. Consult the doctor if the child has a fever and at the same time, the same anterior fontanel always appears swollen, even if the child is calm: it could be the alarm bell of an increase in pressure inside the skull.

It is advisable to consult the pediatrician even if the anterior fontanel closes late, beyond 18 months. There are cases of late family closure, but it could also be a symptom of an altered ossification, due to rickets or hypothyroidism. It is always better to ask an expert.

Text updated on 12 August 2022

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