What You Need To Know About Baby Hair Care

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Hair care is an often overlooked aspect of a baby’s first few years of life. Today we’ll be discussing a certain condition that relates to your baby’s hair care. It affects 70% of infants up to three months old. Nearly every baby I’ve ever come in contact with has had it at some point. It’s not contagious nor does it bother the baby. It simply just bothers the parents. It’s yellowish and scaly. Do you know what I’m talking about? If you haven’t guessed yet, we’re discussing cradle cap today! Cradle cap, or as I like to call it, “cradle crap” is the bane of a lot of parents’ existence. It sneaks up on you and never seems to go away.

Taking care of a baby is hard enough and having to deal with annoying cradle cap is no fun at all. This is a major point, so listen up. In no way does it reflect how the child is being cared for. Having cradle cap is completely normal. It’s just as normal as baby acne, a clogged tear duct, and spit-up. With that being said, your baby’s hair care shouldn’t be difficult, so follow along to learn how to make simple. 

What Causes Cradle Cap?

Bbay in diaper in between mothers legs.

Baby crawling.

If you’ve never heard of cradle cap, then I’m going to assume you don’t know that many babies. If you’re ever planning to have children of your own, you’ll hopefully never have to deal with cradle cap, but to be completely honest, the odds are high. For all of you who don’t know, cradle cap is a scaly rash that shows up on the scalp of young babies. It’s yellowish, greasy, and super annoying to deal with. 

It’s also known as seborrhoeic dermatitis, pityriasis capitis, honeycomb disease, crusta lacteal, and milk crust. We’re going to refer to it as “cradle cap” for today. It’s most similar to dandruff, but there are clear, defined patches of it. There’s no exact cause for cradle cap but it could be caused by a fungal infection or overactive sebaceous glands. Sebaceous glands are in the skin and produce sebum, which is an oil-like substance. If too much sebum is produced, the old skin cells may not be able to dry and fall off, which forces them to stick to the scalp. The hormones from the mother can stay in the baby’s body for many months after birth which can result in overactive glands. 

How To Treat Cradle Cap Naturally

Womans hands pouring essential oil on cotton pad.

Natural oil for baby’s cradle cap.

If you’re wondering how to treat cradle cap naturally, listen up. Most cradle cap will go away on its own with time, but some parents want it gone sooner. Especially if you have a baldie, it’s not the most pleasant thing to look at. Even when you scrape off the scales, they will most likely return. You may be wondering how to treat cradle cap naturally and you’ve come to the right place. It’s not easy to get rid of cradle cap, since it always comes back, which is why you need to be diligent. 

While you’re giving your baby a bath, use baby shampoo to wash their scalp and hair. After you dry their hair and head with a soft towel, you can apply a few drops of baby oil or even almond oil to their scalp. There are other oils that you can use, but you shouldn’t use olive oil because it may strip the skin of its natural barrier. Massage the oil into the cradle cap. You will then need to wait thirty minutes to an hour for the cradle cap to soften. When you see the scales beginning to come loose, you can brush them out with a comb. If you notice that you’re making your baby’s scalp red, you should stop and repeat the process 2-3 days later. 

When Does Newborn Hair Fall Out?

If you’re nervous that your little one is losing hair at a rapid pace, don’t fret. It’s very common for babies to lose their hair in the first six months of their lives. Hair loss in babies is also called telogen effluvium. Hair is either in a resting phase or a growing phase, but a fever, stress, or hormonal change can cause a lot of your hair to stop growing. Since your baby’s hormone levels drop after you give birth to them, they can end up losing all the hair they were born with. It’s for this same reason that new moms lose a lot of hair as well. 

After babies lose their hair that they were born with, they may grow in hair that’s a completely different color. It’s also common for babies to have bald patches depending on how they sleep and lay down. You may notice that most babies have the same bald patch on the back of their heads. This is mostly from being in the car seat and sleeping on their backs. Over time and after they learn how to flip over, the bald spot should fill in. You can also alternate how you put them down to give their bald spot a chance to breathe. 

How To Wash Newborn Hair?

Baby in the sink having a bath.

Baby having a bath.

Washing a newborn can be very difficult and scary for first-time parents. It’s not an easy task. If you’re wondering how to wash newborn hair, the first thing you need is the right equipment to make sure that your baby is safe. Before the baby’s umbilical cord falls off, you can’t immerse their body into the water. Sponge baths are the way to go. Many do sponge baths in their sinks with a baby bath insert. You don’t need to wash your baby’s hair that often unless they sweat a lot around their head or have cradle cap. Even if you aren’t cleaning your baby’s hair every day, you should still use a damp washcloth to delicately clean his head without using shampoo. 

When you are ready to use shampoo on your baby’s head, you need to carefully get their hair wet by holding the baby in the fold of your elbow to dip their head into the water. All you need are a few drops of shampoo and massage it into your baby’s scalp. Rinse it the same way you got it wet, or by using a small bowl. Dry the hair softly and if your baby has hair, use a soft-bristled brush for it. Your baby’s scalp and head are very delicate so you should be careful not to rub or dry too hard. 


No one needs to tell you that babies completely depend on their caregivers. It’s all they have. Yes, it’s scary to bring that newborn home from the hospital. You may even wonder how you are qualified to do this or why didn’t the hospital run a background check on you? I can’t give you the answers to those questions, but I can try to give you the confidence you need to do this. You can do this. The first three months of a baby’s life are the hardest, which is why most people refer to it as the “fourth trimester”. Keep telling yourself that things will get easier, and know that it does.

Your baby’s hair care is only a small part of a huge picture. Slowly but surely things will fall into place. Whether you’re an expecting parent, soon to be grandparent, older sibling, nanny, or babysitter, you don’t need to be worried about the soon-to-be newborn baby that will be in your life. Giving a baby bath and washing their hair is sort of like driving a car. You need to practice to feel comfortable. Everyone does it, and so can you. 

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