baby dandruff


A month or so after he was born, I noticed little white flecks sprinkled throughout my baby’s scalp. New moms have so much to deal with. Breastfeeding, diapers, piles of laundry, general lack of sleep. Then weird stuff like THIS that nobody warns you about. This is the stuff we wind up freaking out over at 3am. This is the stuff that makes our husbands think we’ve gone off the deep end. “Oh my God,” I called my mother-in-law, who happens to be a nurse. “My baby has dandruff!”

She laughed, a welcome sound from a medical professional. “Dandruff? Not likely. It’s cradle cap.”

That’s right. Completely harmless but kind of gross to look at, cradle cap is when flecks of skin start to peel off of a baby’s head within a few months after birth. It usually is not caused by any sort of illness or allergies, and it isn’t contagious. Experts think that it’s caused by an overstimulation of oil in the baby’s scalp from the mother’s hormones released towards the end of pregnancy.

The good news is that there’s no real medical issue or harm as a result of baby’s flaky scalp.

“But I want it OFF my baby’s head. We have a photographer coming tomorrow!”

The bad news is that there’s no real solution, either.

Cradle cap resolves itself between six to twelve months after birth, and it will often subside and recur throughout that first year of life as the baby grows new skin and hair and sheds the old in cycles. Parents are strongly advised against using any sort of dandruff shampoos or rinses on their infants and are encouraged to stick to baby-safe, mild shampoo. Many parents have success rubbing natural oil onto their baby’s head and brushing gently with a soft baby brush to remove the loose skin. I personally use coconut cream to soften up his scalp, leaving it on for about 10 minutes before gently brushing, washing, and then brushing again. Just take care not to over-work and irritate baby’s sensitive skin.

Naturally, it’s time to see a doctor if your baby ever develops irritated red skin or areas that bleed, as these things can be a sign of a serious infection or allergic reaction. But cradle cap? Definitely not something to get too worked up about. As for those newborn pics, you might consider a cute hat!

Have your children dealt with cradle cap? Have you ever over-reacted to any perfectly normal baby issues?

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