Some babies are born with a full head of thick, luscious hair, while others are born with just one or two strands. Most babies fall somewhere in the middle, sporting a modest covering of downy hair. While you might not care about the type of hair your little one has a parent, you must wonder how to go about caring for your baby’s hair.
Washing your baby’s hair
Babies have delicate hair and a sensitive scalp. Here is what you need to know about washing it.
- When can you start washing your baby’s hair?
You can’t introduce hair washing too early in your baby’s life. In fact, babies typically have their hair cleaned in the hospital to remove meconium and other fluids. Premature babies can even benefit from a gentle shampoo.
If you’re hesitant to wash your baby’s hair after you’re back home from the hospital, start with one or two washes a week. Even if your baby is bald or has only a few strands of hair, it’s still important to give his/her scalp a gentle wash to get rid of excess oil.
If you feel that your little one might need a little cleanse before the next hair wash, consider using a washcloth and water. Simply wet the cloth with warm water and wring it out, then gently wipe your baby’s scalp/hair.
- How often should you wash your baby’s hair?
You don’t need to clean your little one’s hair everyday, unless your baby sweats too much around his/her head. Your baby’s hair secretes very little oil, plus they have delicate skin that dries out easily, so you don’t want to wash it too frequently to avoid stripping it of the essential oils it needs to stay healthy. Washing your little one’s hair two to three times a week as you give them a bath should suffice.
On the other hand, if you don't wash your little one’s hair frequently enough, oils and dead skin may build up on the scalp, which might result in a condition known as cradle cap.
- What is cradle cap?
Infantile seborrheic dermatitis, or cradle cap as it is more commonly known, is a condition that commonly develops in babies. Cradle cap is not particularly worrying as it is neither harmful nor contagious.
If your little one has this condition, you might notice yellow, brown, or white thick, crusty scales on the scalp that look like dandruff. The scales get flaky and fall off, sometimes with hair strands trapped in them. In some cases, the cradle cap could spread to the nose, armpits, cheeks, and in the diaper area. If this happens to your little, contact your pediatrician for further advice. While cradle cap is unsightly, it does not cause itchiness.
The exact cause of cradle cap is not known. Some experts believe that the condition is triggered by hormonal changes in pregnancy which causes overstimulation of oil glands. Others suggested that cradle cap is linked to a yeast called malassezia which naturally occurs in sebum along with other microbes.
In most cases cradle cap clars up on its own as the baby grows, but you can also treat it yourself by washing the hair with a mild baby shampoo more frequently, massaging oil into your baby’s scalp, and/or using topical creams recommended by your doctor.
- How to wash your baby’s hair
Here are some step-by-step guidelines on how to wash your baby’s hair:
- Fill the tub
Start by filling the tub, sink, or basin with around 2-4 inches of water. Make sure you use warm water that is about 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Bathe your baby as you normally would
Bathe your little one as you normally would. The hair should be the last thing you wash since wet hair can make your baby colder quicker.
To wash your baby’s hair, starting by wetting it a little using a washcloth or a cup, taking care to keep the water from trickling down the baby’s face. Take a small amount of baby shampoo and gently work it into the hair. Avoid using adult shampoos as most of them contain harsh chemicals and can sting the eyes. Some baby shampoos can cause tangling, so look for varieties that have a pH balance between 4.5 and 6. When lathering the shampoo, avoid applying pressure on the soft spot on top of your baby’s head.
Use a washcloth, cup, or your hand to rinse out the shampoo. Make sure you do this thoroughly, as residue can dry out your little one’s scalp. If you’re worried about suds getting into your baby’s eyes, use a damp washcloth to wipe your baby’s hair clean.
3. Finishing up
Lift the baby out of the tub and use a soft towel to pat him/her dry. Dress them appropriately after applying your choice of skin-friendly lotion/cream.
- Is drying your baby’s hair necessary?
Whether you should dry your baby’s hair after a bath is completely after you. Some parents leave it to air dry, while others prefer using a soft towel to soak up the moisture faster.
Combing your baby’s hair
Combing is an essential part of hair care. There are several reasons why you should consider adding it to your baby’s routine, some of which are listed below:
- Brushing your little one’s hair using a baby brush that has soft bristles promotes healthy blood flow to the scalp which can help to stimulate hair growth.
- Gently brushing or combing your baby’s hair can help him/her relax and even fall asleep.
- Regular brushing can help to the flaky skin that may result from cradle cap.
If you’re a bit wary of introducing combing in your baby’s hair care routine, here are some tips to put your mind at ease:
- You must only use soft bristle baby combs. Adult combs might irritate your baby’s scalp.
- If your baby’s hair is a tangled mess, use a wide toothed baby brush or comb to gently untangle it, starting from the ends and slowly working upwards.
- If your baby’s hair becomes matted, you may have to trim it.
Oiling your baby’s hair
Massaging your baby’s scalp with natural baby hair oil helps to moisturize the scalp and prevent the formation of dandruff. Avoid using strong perfumed oils or varieties that contain chemicals. Most parents prefer to use virgin natural oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, and sesame oil.
Baby hair is very delicate - it grows from an underdeveloped skull, can easily become tangled, and is often very fine. Figuring out how to care for your little one’s hair and navigating all the different types of baby hair products can be overwhelming. Consider these tips to help you get the hang of baby hair care