Tips About Your Newborn’s Head

The shape of your newborn’s head may surprise you!

newborn baby in hospital

A Few Hours Old

At Birth

When your baby is first born you may notice the shape of your newborn’s head is not what you expected. In all of the pictures you see, newborn babies have perfectly rounded heads that imitate the natural shape of humans. But when they hand you your newborn for the first time, your baby’s head may have a noticeable ridge along the top of the head, or the head may be markedly oval and not rounded at all. No worries. These unusual appearances are temporary, and not uncommon.

By Design

By perfect design, your baby is born with the bones of the skull separated into primarily five plates that are held together by fibrous membranes. This design accommodates both you and your baby during delivery to allow for safe passage through the birth canal. These separated plates also accommodate the rapid growth of your baby’s brain during the first year of life.

The First Week

Because of these shifting plates, your baby’s head may also assume a variety of unusual shapes during the first week of life. These changing head shapes are caused by the position of your baby’s head at rest, and usually create a noticeably flat area on the side in contact with the sleeping surface. To help return your newborn’s head to a more natural shape, you can gently rotate your sleeping baby’s head so that the pressure of the mattress, or your shoulder, is on the opposite side. Changing the position of the head as needed will help it become more naturally rounded over time. Your back-to-sleep baby may just turn the head back to midline after your attempt to rotate the head to one side or the other, but it’s worth the try.

Babywearing Helps

Holding your baby or having your newborn in a soft cloth carrier will help to keep your baby’s head more rounded too. Because your baby’s head will not be pushing against a plastic carrier, or against a firm mattress for sleep on some occasions, wearing your baby will help to maintain a nicely rounded head.

The Future

Just for fun, notice the adults you encounter in life and the shapes of their heads. It will be easy to appreciate a nicely shaped head for your baby. And, your grown-up baby will be very grateful for a nicely shaped head that can sport any hairstyle, even the currently popular shaved look for men or the partially shaved styles for young women.

For you and yours,

D. Fravert, RN

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