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Soft Spots 101

You really don't need a hard hat to protect your baby's soft spots  -- the not-yet-hardened bones in his skull. While the rear fontanel closes by about 3 months of age, the front one stays malleable until your child is 18 to 24 months old to allow for critical brain growth  -- so the soft spots actually help make your baby smarter! For now, here's what you need to remember:

They're not as delicate as they look. It's just fine to gently shampoo and comb your tot's hair and scrape off cradle cap scales.

They're also not stationary. You may see a soft spot pulse right before your eyes, rising and falling as blood and bodily fluids pass through it. This is totally normal.

They are clues to illness. A soft spot that remains sunken for more than a few minutes, especially when accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, and/or fever, can be a sign of serious dehydration, so get to the doctor or emergency room ASAP.

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