Like so many things about a newborn, from size and weight to tiny temperament and sleeping habits, baby hair (or lack thereof) can vary from one infant to the next. Whether your baby is born bald or with plenty to brush on top, try not to get too attached to the lovable look. His hair will very likely change during the first year and perhaps even beyond. That said, don’t let those tiny strands stress you out, because we’ve combed through the baby hair-care tips and infant hair products that are sure to keep your bundle of joy’s beautiful hairstyle, whatever it may be, healthy through this transition.
From Bountiful to Bald … and Back Again
Besides gender, one of the first things a parent is likely to share with excited family and friends is a newborn’s weight, length … and details about that soft baby hair (or, perhaps, cute bald head).
If baby’s head is blessed with hair, he'll probably start to shed it during the first six months, at which point he will begin to grow “real” hair that will likely stick around. So while it may be a surprise that baby arrived with one hair color, his locks may look and feel different by the time his first birthday rolls around.
Another reason for baby's hair loss? Since an infant who cannot sit up or roll over will spend a lot of time on his back, the constant rubbing of his head on the crib mattress, bouncer or rocker and car seat can lead to a bald spot, especially in the back of the head. If you notice baby favors one side when he's lying down, try to change his position so his head doesn't go bald and flatten there, too. Bare spots will likely disappear when he's a bit older and starts to spend more time upright.
Baby Hair-Care Tips
Whatever baby's locks look like, they will be finer and more fragile than yours, so follow these trusted baby tress tips to keep hair well cared for:
Wash as Needed
Bathtime is an excellent opportunity to bond with baby by gently washing those tiny toes, sudsing that soft baby hair and singing sweet songs. That said, it’s important to remember washing that newborn baby hair should only be done a couple of times per week, at most, and only once a week for African American babies. As your child grows and is more likely to make a Mohawk with her mashed-up bananas, you can begin to wash more frequently. African American babies should stick with the once-a-week shampoo routine, though you can rinse hair every night with water and conditioner.
When it comes time to bathe your little one, whatever age she may be, make sure baby is safely seated or propped up in the sink, baby tub or bath seat. With a plastic cup, slowly pour warm water over baby’s hair to get it wet and, in a circular motion, gently massage a mild and tear-free shampoo on baby’s hair. Rinse with the bath water, and when you do, try to keep baby’s head such that the shampoo doesn’t run over baby’s eyes.
If your mini-me is lacking much hair, have no fear; it’ll come. In the meantime, be sure to stock up on those cute baby hats, bonnets and beanies to protect her skin from the sun in summer and keep her warm in colder months. Note: Prior to 1 year old, sunscreen should not be trusted as baby’s skin is extremely sensitive to the sun’s rays. If baby is bald, make sure she wears a hat outside whenever possible, specifically between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sun damage that occurs on the scalp will be covered by hair later in life.
Infant Hair Products We Recommend
The Honest Company Shampoo + Body Wash
A 2-in-1 cleanser that can handle baby’s hair and body, The Honest Company Shampoo + Body Wash cuts down on the number of bottles and “stuff” necessary for a bath and allows more time for sudsy sing-alongs. It comes in four different scents and moisturizes and softens skin thanks to coconut oil, jojoba protein and quinoa extract. Tear-free, hypoallergenic, pediatrically tested and pH balanced, this formula is also free of sulfates and parabens. What’s not to love?
Tame Tangles & Troublesome Hair
For little ones who have longer or thicker hair, you can also use baby hair products such as a nourishing conditioner to help combat tangles and knots. Leave in a few minutes longer post-shampoo for extra conditioning (and song time). African American babies can opt for a dime-size amount of extra-virgin olive oil to be brushed or combed in after washing to keep hair from drying out.
From cowlicks and bedhead (which, let’s be honest, can be so cute) to tangles after a mid-afternoon dip at the wading pool, there are times when you need a quick fix for troublesome hair. Use a spray detangler, which can typically be used daily on wet or dry hair, at home or kept handy for on-the-go. Just spray on and comb through!
Infant Hair Products We Recommend
The Honest Company Conditioner
Available in the same four scents as their shampoo and body wash, The Honest Company Conditioner is perfect for all hair types, not to mention also vegan and pH balanced. Its lightweight and hydrating formula – which is free of harsh chemicals and synthetic fragrances — fends off frizz, tackles tough tangles and adds some serious shine to your bundle of joy.
California Baby Calming Hair De-Tangler
California Baby Calming Hair De-Tangler is safe for sensitive skin and leaves hair soft, shiny and manageable, without a greasy look. Free of harsh chemicals, gluten, soy, oats, dairy and nuts (except coconut), the formula can be used on wet or dry hair of all ages and comes in a calming scent that includes French lavender and clary sage essential oils. Featuring a mist sprayer that twists to lock, this detangler is perfect for tossing into your diaper bag or beach bag for travel. ($15; amazon.com)
After baby is safe and warm out of the bath, use a wide-tooth comb or soft-bristled brush to get through her hair without too many tears from those tough tangles.
When it comes to baby hair-care, it's best to towel dry and let those fine hairs air-dry because blow-dryers can quickly burn a baby’s sensitive skin. A hooded towel is ideal for towel drying, because you can keep baby wrapped warmly while gently rubbing her head. If you feel opt for a hair dryer, use the lowest heat setting and dry hair with the dryer in constant motion and several inches away from baby’s skin.
If and when you decide to dive into the world of baby hair accessories (so fun!), keep an eye on the cute clips and beautiful headbands your infant is wearing, as they may pose a choking hazard if they slip or are pulled off. Headbands should be snug but not too tight so as not to cause baby any discomfort. Infant hair can break easily, so avoid pulling hair into a tight ponytail until those toddler years (when you need to master the art of distraction and quickly pull off pint-size pigtails and ponies).
Infant Hair Products We Recommend
Safety 1st® Easy Grip Brush and Comb Set
When it comes to baby hair products, steer clear of those round brushes and fine-tooth combs you’ve had stashed in your drawers for years. The Safety 1st Easy Grip Brush and Comb Set provides everything you need to comb or brush through baby’s tiny tresses, whatever her hair type. The ergonomic design makes it comfortable and easy for you so you can focus on the fun, rather than fear snagging small hair knots.
Baby headbands are perfect whether your baby is already rocking some bangs or barely has any hair and is proudly donning her “No hair, don’t care” onesie. This baby knot-tie headband is comfortable and almost too cute for words. Made of soft cotton, it’s great for everyday wear or those special occasions where you want to add a little flair (but know the “oohs” and “ahhs” may be endless!).
Treating a Flaky Scalp
Some babies may get flaky, red patches on their heads, which is often called “cradle cap.” This condition is usually nothing to worry about, though there are a few things you can do to reduce the signs, such as massaging a small amount of baby oil on your little one’s head before bathing. Gently brush or rub with a soft washcloth to loosen the dry skin, then wash as usual with a mild shampoo. If the condition begins to spread or worsen, consult your baby’s physician.
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products identified in this list are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult with your baby’s physician before use. Discontinue use and consult your child’s doctor if any adverse reactions occur.