In recent years, it has been demonstrated that using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) channels with short separations to explicitly sample extra-cerebral tissues can provide a significant improvement in the accuracy and reliability of fNIRS measurements. The aim of these short-separation channels is to measure the same superficial hemodynamics observed by standard fNIRS channels while also being insensitive to the brain. We use Monte Carlo simulations of photon transport in anatomically informed multilayer models to determine the optimum source–detector distance for short-separation channels in adult and newborn populations. We present a look-up plot that provides (for an acceptable value of short-separation channel brain sensitivity relative to standard channel brain sensitivity) the optimum short-separation distance. Though values vary across the scalp, when the acceptable ratio of the short-separation channel brain sensitivity to standard channel brain sensitivity is set at 5%, the optimum short-separation distance is 8.4 mm in the typical adult and 2.15 mm in the term-age infant.