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Is My Newborn Normal?

To help prepare you for those first hours, days, and weeks of life, here's a head-to-toe guide to newborn health.

Your Baby, Head to Toe continued...

Pediatrician Fred Hirschenfang, MD, says you should also be prepared for some swelling at the top of your newborn's head or sometimes even over the entire scalp.

The condition is caused by fluids that are squeezed into the area during a normal delivery. Sometimes, enough fluid collects so that when pressed lightly, you can even see a small indentation. But again, it's nothing to worry about.

"It will resolve pretty quickly, usually before the baby leaves the hospital," says Hirschenfang.

What may take a little longer to disappear, however, is a condition known as cephalohematoma, a collection of blood trapped between the skull and skin lining. It frequently appears on day two of life and looks like an odd-shaped lump on the top of your newborn's head.

As scary as that sounds, doctors say don't fret.

"It happens as part of the normal birthing process, it's not serious and not anyone's fault, and it does go away on its own, usually within a few months," says Hirschenfang. It may get bigger before it starts going away which is normal too.  As long as there are no concerns for any accidents or traumas, a spontaneous cephalohematoma during the birthing period is usually normal.

And while you probably already know about your newborn's fontanel (those "soft spots" on the top and back of the head) don't be surprised if they start to throb with every beat of your baby's heart!

Although this too looks scary, Hubbard says relax; the pulsating is normal, and the "soft spot" is tougher that you think.

"It is supposed to be soft, because it allows for the rapid growth of the brain that occurs in the first year of life. But you can touch it; it's not that fragile," she says. Within 12 to 18 months the soft spot will usually resolve but it can take until the middle of the second year of life to close and your baby's skull will uniformly harden.  There is also a soft spot in the back of the head which is smaller and many times not noticed, this spot resolves within 6 months of birth.   

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