Many babies start life with little or no baby hair, or perhaps a downy layer of fuzz. If that’s the case with your baby, no special hair or scalp care is needed — just wash your baby’s head with the same gentle soap you use for the bath. Within the first year, you’ll likely see hair start to grow in. Once it does, caring for baby’s hair is relatively simple. Here’s what to do.
Comb. Use a wide-toothed comb to work out any tangles before shampooing. For tough baby-hair tangles, try a spray designed to make those knots easier to comb through.
Shampoo. Choose a gentle shampoo and wash your baby’s hair as needed. Babies don’t need a daily shampoo — two or three times a week should do it. Use warm water, not hot, and be careful not to put pressure on the soft spot on top of your baby’s head — that’s where the plates of the skull are still growing together.
Baby shampoos are less likely to sting the eyes, but their pH levels may make them more likely to cause tangles. You might want to switch from a baby shampoo to a mild shampoo when your baby’s hair starts to get long enough to tangle. If you put your baby in a supported, reclining position for shampooing, it’s less likely that shampoo will get in his or her eyes.
Conditioner. Babies don’t really need any conditioner. As your baby gets older and the hair gets longer, your might want to start using a gentle conditioner occasionally.
Trim. Once the hair gets longer, trim it to keep it out of baby’s eyes and minimize tangles.
There are a couple of common problems that can crop up with baby’s hair and scalp:
Cradle cap may look like dandruff or appear as yellow-brown scaly spots. Experts aren’t sure what causes this common condition, though some suspect that hormones toward the end of pregnancy overstimulate the oil-producing glands on the scalp. While it can be unattractive, it’s not contagious and doesn’t seem to bother babies. It usually clears up on its own in six to 12 months. To improve the appearance of the scalp, you can shampoo a little more frequently and gently rub the trouble spots with a washcloth. Natural oils might help loosen the scaly spots too. Massage them into the scalp, leave on for a few minutes, and comb or brush out the flakes. Follow up with a shampoo to remove the excess oil.
Hair loss often strikes within the first six months. That’s because hairs are normally in either a growing or shedding stage. But hormonal changes can affect the hair, and the drop in hormones babies experience right after birth can synchronize the hair follicles, causing them to shed at the same time. The new hair that grows in may be a different color and/or texture than the hair baby was born with.
Taking care of baby hair is simple, and you’ll build good hygiene habits in your child with a hair-care routine that starts early.