Anatomy of the Newborn Skull
Although the skull appears to be 1 large bone, there are actually several major bones that are connected together. The major bones that compose the skull of a newborn include the following:
2 frontal bones
2 parietal bones
1 occipital bone
These bony plates cover the brain and are held together by fibrous material called sutures.
What are sutures?
Sutures allow the bones to move during the birth process. They act like an expansion joint. This allows the bone to enlarge evenly as the brain grows and the skull expands. The result is a symmetrically shaped head. Some sutures extend to the forehead, while others extend to the sides and back of the skull. One suture in the middle of the skull extends from the front of the head to the back. The major sutures of the skull include the following:
Metopic suture. This extends from the top of the head down the middle of the forehead, toward the nose. The 2 frontal bone plates meet at the metopic suture.
Coronal suture. This extends from ear to ear. Each frontal bone plate meets with a parietal bone plate at the coronal suture.
Sagittal suture. This extends from the front of the head to the back, down the middle of the top of the head. The 2 parietal bone plates meet at the sagittal suture.
Lambdoid suture. This extends across the back of the head. Each parietal bone plate meets the occipital bone plate at the lambdoid suture.
If any of the sutures close too early (fuse prematurely), there may be no growth in that area. This may force growth to happen in another area or direction. This results in an abnormal head shape (craniosynostosis).
What are fontanelles?
There are 2 fontanelles (the space between the bones of an infant's skull where the sutures intersect) that are covered by tough membranes that protect the underlying soft tissues and brain. The fontanelles include:
Anterior fontanelle (also called soft spot). This is the junction where the 2 frontal and 2 parietal bones meet. The anterior fontanelle remains soft until about 18 months to 2 years of age. Doctors can assess if there is increased intracranial pressure by feeling the anterior fontanelle.
Posterior fontanelle. This is the junction of the 2 parietal bones and the occipital bone. The posterior fontanelle usually closes first, before the anterior fontanelle, during the first several months of an infant's life.
Online Medical Reviewer: Jasmin, Luc, MDSather, Rita, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2018
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
- Assessments for Newborn Babies
- Baby's Care After Birth
- Breast Milk Collection and Storage
- Breastfeeding and Delayed Milk Production
- Breastfeeding at Work
- Breastfeeding Difficulties - Baby
- Breastfeeding Difficulties - Mother
- Breastfeeding: Getting Started
- Breastfeeding Your Baby
- Breastfeeding Your Premature Baby
- Breathing Problems
- Care of the Baby in the Delivery Room
- Caring for Babies in the NICU
- Chromosomal Abnormalities
- Common Conditions and Complications
- Common Procedures
- Congenital Heart Disease Index
- Difficulty with Latching On or Sucking
- Digestive Disorders
- Fever in A Newborn
- Hearing Loss in Babies
- Hearing Screening Tests for Newborns
- Heart Disorders
- High-Risk Newborn Blood Disorders
- Infant Feeding Guide
- Infant of a Mother with Diabetes
- Infant Play
- Infant Sleep
- Infection in Babies
- Inguinal Hernia in Children
- Male Conditions
- Megaureter in Children
- Neurological Disorders in the Newborn
- Newborn Appearance
- Newborn Babies: Getting Ready at Home
- Newborn Care
- Newborn Complications
- Newborn Crying
- Newborn Health Assessment
- Newborn Measurements
- Newborn Multiples
- Newborn Reflexes
- Newborn Screening Tests
- Newborn Senses
- Newborn Sleep Patterns
- Newborn Warning Signs
- Normal Newborn Behaviors and Activities
- Physical Exam of the Newborn
- Preparing for Your New Baby
- Preparing the Family
- Skin Color Changes
- Substance Exposure
- Taking Your Baby Home
- The Growing Child: Newborn
- The Respiratory System in Babies
- Thrush (Oral Candida Infection) in Children
- Transient Tachypnea of the Newborn
- Umbilical Cord Care
- Vision and Hearing
- Keeping Your Baby Warm
- When to Call Your Child's Healthcare Provider
- Basics About Your Newborn’s Body
- Birthmarks in Infants
- Mom and Baby Bond through Kangaroo Care