It is true babies don’t come with a manual, but we are here to help take the guesswork out of one area: baby hair-care and infant hair products.
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 bathwater, 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.
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!
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 hairdryer, 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).
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.