Last Reviewed: April 2017
If your baby's fontanels ("soft spots") are bulging when he's calm or sunken in all the time, call your doctor right away!
What Your Newborn Will Look Like
Head shape and appearance
Your newborn's head will likely be flaky or a little misshapen - definitely not the perfectly shaped head you've seen in baby books!
But don't worry - these characteristics are normal.
Plagiocephaly ("Flat Head")
For the first 12 months of life babies' skull bones are soft, thin and flexible and can be moulded very easily. If babies spend too much time in one position they can develop a flat spot on either side of their head or the back of their head. This is caused from regular pressure on one spot of a baby's head. These flat spots won't affect your baby's brain development.
Flat spots can happen if your baby is lying on his back in the same position (e.g. sleeping) or if his head is resting against a flat surface (e.g. crib, stroller, swings). There are ways you can help stop flat spots from happening.
Preventing "Flat Head"
Remember to change the position of your baby's head when you put him down to sleep on his back. The idea is to give your baby a different view of the room and encourage your baby, while sleeping on his back, to turn his head to look at different things when he wakes up.
Here are some other things you can try:
- Tummy time - doing this several times a day with your baby will not only prevent "flat head", but will help your baby develop (e.g. learn to hold her head up).
- Move mobiles and crib toys to different sides of the crib (Don't forget some household items make great inexpensive toys such as; paper towel tubes and colourful plastic containers).
- Change your baby's head position from side, to back, to side especially if she has one side she spends a lot of time on.
- Limit the amount of time that your baby spends in car seats, infant seats, swings and strollers (Babies should not be restrained for more than one hour at a time while awake).
- Change positions when feeding, carrying, holding and playing with your baby.
- Once your baby has good head control, increase your baby's time in an upright position.
For more information and to see a picture of "flat head" visit About Kids Health.
Moulding happens when the bones in the skull shift as a baby's head squeezes through the birth canal.
Moulding might cause the top of your baby's head to look stretched out or pointed (cone head). This is temporary and usually goes away a few days after birth.
Fontanels ("Soft Spot")
Fontanels are two soft spots on your baby's head caused by the skull bones separating during birth.
The larger fontanel is diamond-shaped at the front of the head; the smaller fontanel is triangle-shaped at the back of the head.
Watch how fontanels fuse together.
Source: Mayo Clinic
Both soft spots will disappear as the skull bones fuse together - the front spot between 12-18 months, and the back soft spot at around six months.
It's normal for a baby's fontanel to temporarily bulge while he's crying then return to normal once he's calm and sitting head-up.
If your baby's "soft spots" are sunken in or bulging when your baby is calm, call your doctor right away!
More head shape and fontanels information
Stanford School of Medicine