What to do for the baby
If you have a tape measure, measure the baby from the top of her head to the
bottom of her heel. Most babies are between 45 and 53 centimeters
(18 to 21 inches). Babies who are not within this range may have problems.
If you have a tape measure, measure the baby’s head,
just above the ears. The normal size for a baby’s head is
35 centimeters (13 to 14 inches). Write down the head
size. A very large or small head can be a sign of illness or
disability in the child.
Head shape, suture lines, and fontanels
The skulls (head bones) of children and adults are solid, but a new baby’s skull is
made of 5 separate pieces. The spaces between
these 5 pieces are called sutures or suture lines. The
baby’s skull also has 2 larger soft areas called
fontanels or soft spots.
These spaces between the skull bones allow the
fontanels skull pieces to move during birth. This helps the
(soft spots) baby’s head squeeze through the mother’s vagina.
Sometimes the skull bones have to overlap for
the head to be born. This is called molding. When
the baby is first born, his head may be be in a pointed or flattened shape. It will
usually become more normal in 1 to 3 days. Here are some of the different shapes
you might see at birth.
Molding is normal.
Gently feel the sutures
with your fingers. The
front suture should stop
at or near the top of the forehead. Notice if the sutures are a normal width or
unusually wide. Also gently feel the soft spots. Are they soft, or tense and bulging?
Do not push on the soft spots — you could hurt the baby.
If the sutures are unusually wide, if
the front suture goes down to the middle
of the forehead, or if the soft spots are
tense or bulging, the baby may have
hydrocephalus (water on the brain).
Hydrocephalus can cause learning
disabilities or other serious problems.
If there are no soft spots, this can also
cause problems as the baby's head grows.
In either case, get medical advice.
Normal suture lines
and soft spots.
Not normal. Could
A Book for Midwives (2010)