So Baby has made it through nine months in the womb, and now she’s a fully grown adult!
No? Not yet?
Even after Baby is born, she’s still got a bunch of growing left to do, and not just in terms of height and weight. Among other things, she still needs to develop her true eye color, a better immune system, and a taste in movies. However, Baby’s most important yet-to-fully-develop feature is without a question her skull.
Skull development in the womb
Early on in gestation, Baby’s brain begins to form from the neural tube, the larval stage of the Central Nervous System. She will continue to develop her brain cells throughout pregnancy and expand her functionality, eventually being capable of regulating body temperature, controlling her heartbeat, and all other involuntary human processes.
Her’s skull remains very soft throughout gestation so that her brain has plenty of room to grow.
A tight squeeze
The bones in a growing baby’s head are not yet fused, so as to make for an easier delivery. You’ll also probably notice two “soft spots” after birth at the front and back of the head, known as fontanelles. When she passes headfirst through the birth canal, her soft skull may get cramped, and mold to be slightly lopsided when she’s born.
Oftentimes, babies who rest their head at the same angle too frequently may also notice some asymmetrical flattening. Swelling of the skin and soft tissues is another common contributor to this “coneheadedness”.
Babies’ skulls don’t generally fuse until about a year after birth, so even if it’s a little lopsided early on, there’s plenty of time for it to even back out. In fact, most babies’ skulls will even out on their own as they get older, and more able to support their heads and necks.
Babies who lie on their backs for most of the day may be at a heightened risk for a lopsided head, so try to get Baby on her belly for a little bit of supervised tummy time each day to vary the head’s point of contact with the ground.
If the lopsidedness does not go away by about six months after she is born, healthcare providers may recommend using a helmet to help apply a bit of pressure to the head and get it all nice and symmetrical, but most babies’ skulls will fix themselves naturally.
- “Skeletal formation.” Penn Medicine. Penn Medicine, n.d. Web.
- N Kaneshiro. “Fontanelles – bulging.” U.S National Library of Medicine. MedlinePlus, 2/5/2015. Web.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Baby’s head shape: What’s normal?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 1/29/2015. Web.