Caring For Baby's Hair and Scalp
Some babies are born with almost no hair, while others are graced with thick hair from birth. Most babies are in between these two poles, sporting a fine covering of downy hair. If your baby is born with hair, don't be alarmed if it falls out. This is called the 'telogen' stage, and is very common in newborns. Your baby's hair will grow back, and might surprise you by growing back a different colour or texture! Dark haired babies' hair often grows back blonde, redheads turn into brunettes, and curly hair may grow back straight!
How to Wash Baby's Hair
Whatever kind of hair your baby has, use a mild baby shampoo to wash it. Avoid adult shampoos, as these contain sulphates and can sting the eyes. Certain baby shampoos make tangles worse, so look for a shampoo with a ph balance between 4.5-6 (the ph factor is normally found on the bottle). When shampooing, avoid putting pressure on the fontanelle (the soft spot on the top of your baby's head). Brush any tangles out before washing and be gentle when you massage the shampoo into your baby's hair, to ensure you don't damage hair and speed up hair loss. Make sure you wash all the shampoo off your baby's head, as residue can dry out the scalp, making cradle cap worse.
Combing Baby's Hair
Having lots of hair is a mixed blessing for a baby, as thick or long hair goes hand in hand with those dreaded tangles. If hair gets tangled, it can become matted and might have to be cut out. To avoid this, use a wide toothed comb or baby brush on your baby's hair to gently detangle it, starting from the ends and working upwards. You may want to use a detangling spray to make it easier.
Trimming Baby's Hair
If your baby has a long fringe, trim it to keep it out of his eyes. Try to avoid using hair bands, which can damage hair if pulled too tightly. If you want to cut your baby's hair, choose a time when she is contented, has been fed and isn't tired. Let her hold some toys so she is occupied while you get on with trimming her hair.
What is Cradle Cap?
Cradle cap is the yellow or brown coloured flakes that often appear on young babies scalps. Cradle cap isn't harmful to your baby and usually clears up by itself after a few weeks or months. The exact cause of cradle cap is unknown, but it is linked to overactive sebaceous glands. It doesn't normally cause itching or discomfort to your baby, and very rarely needs medical treatment.
If you want to treat your baby's cradle cap, massaging oil into your baby's scalp can help loosen the flakes. Olive oil, baby oil, and petroleum jelly are all safe to use on baby's' scalp. Leave the oil on for at least a couple of hours, or overnight if you can, and then gently remove any loose flakes using a baby brush or a flannel. There are also topical creams and shampoos designed for treating cradle cap. Be careful not to get these in your baby's eyes as they can sting, and as with any product you use on your baby, check the ingredients to see if they contain any ingredients your baby is allergic to. Don't be tempted to pick at the cradle cap, as this could cause an infection of the scalp and hair loss.
If the cradle cap becomes red, inflamed or you notice signs of infection, see your baby's doctor, as your baby may need anti-fungal cream or antibiotics.