When your newborn makes their grand entrance into the world, one of the first things you’re likely to see is their hair… or their shiny bald head.
Certainly, while some newborns make their big debut with surprisingly thick, dark, and manic manes, other wee ones more readily resemble a smooth-headed Daddy Warbucks.
Either way, your baby’s hair — or lack thereof — on day 1 reveals very little about what their locks will look like in the near or distant future. Newborn hair is fickle (and fleeting), so take some pictures now while it lasts.
Indeed, it’s true that your babe might be born with a natural mohawk, voluminous curls, or a soft hint of fuzz. It is also possible that they won’t have a trace of hair on their tiny head, but boast a visible layer of furriness all over their body.
There is a wide spectrum of hair-raising possibilities. The important thing to remember is that every baby is different and there is no “normal.”
Around 14 weeks of gestation, your little one will start to get hair follicles on their scalp and body. Soon after, hair will begin to grow and the cells will start making the pigment that provides color to the strands.
While the hue, texture, and appearance may change over time, it is worth noting that the actual hair follicles on your little one’s head will remain unchanged. Those are baby’s follicles for life.
Fine hair, called lanugo, will also appear on your baby’s face and body around 20 weeks gestation.
Lanugo serves several important purposes. It traps vernix (that white, cakey substance which protects a baby’s delicate skin) in place, helps with temperature regulation, and even helps to regulate hormones in utero.
A full-term baby will typically lose their lanugo before birth, but some premature cuddle bugs will still have a thin layer for a few weeks after they are born.
Got a cutie-pie Cousin It on your hands? Some babies are born with long luscious locks or style-worthy curls. It doesn’t necessarily mean those tresses are there to stay. It may gradually or suddenly change — it may even begin to shed.
Newborn hair loss is common, so don’t be alarmed if you see some shedding in the crib during the first 6 months of your baby’s life. It’s also possible you won’t notice this change, as, sometimes, hair loss and growth happen simultaneously.
Either way, there are several reasons why this hair loss happens. It may occur, simply, as a result of friction from lying on surfaces for long periods of time.
It is also partially attributed to hormonal changes. While some of the hair follicles were likely in a growth phase at birth, a sudden change in hormones may cause them to switch to the resting phase — resulting in telogen effluvium (aka shedding).
By the way, if you’ve noticed that your own postpartum locks have lost their luster and strength, you, too, may be experiencing this hormonal shift. (Bye-bye beautiful pregnancy mane!)
Interestingly, whether or not your newborn’s hair falls out, it may soon look different. Hair color and texture can change over time. So your dark-haired newborn might start showing lighter locks, or those sweet curls might eventually straighten.
If your hairy mini monster is growing more hair than you can maintain — and it is starting to become a burden, falling into their face or constantly getting tangled — it may be time to consider a little trim.
It can be intimidating to take scissors to your baby’s precious head. What’s more, you may worry that you’ll mess up. The good news: Haircuts are temporary. The better news: You can always hit up a “baby salon” or your favorite professional hairdresser for some help.
Just don’t forget to snip a bit for the baby book — you’ll want to remember that all-important first haircut milestone.
And if you’re wondering about the idea that cutting or shaving a baby’s head will make the hair grow thicker or faster? It won’t. The best thing you can do to encourage baby hair growth is to gently keep their scalp and hair clean and healthy.
Bald and beautiful! It’s totally okay if your munchkin’s scalp is bare for a little while.
If your baby is still bald or continues losing hair after the 6-month mark, though, you may want to check in with your pediatrician.
It’s most likely nothing to be concerned about, but there could be some nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune disorders, or fungal issues that need to be addressed. Not to fret — there are treatments available.
As mentioned, most babies will lose their lanugo (those fine whispers of body hair) before birth. Premature babies — and even some full-termers — will still have a downy coating present on day 1, though.
You might find this shocking at first sight, but, don’t panic: A full-body shave isn’t necessary — and, no, it doesn’t mean your little one will be a permanent teddy bear.
The lanugo will gradually fade and shed in those first few weeks and months, and more subtle vellus hair will grow in its place.
Regardless of whether your newborn has a lot of hair or a little, you’ll want to take care of their scalp and tend to those wispy tresses.
Gently wash your baby’s hair every few days (avoid doing this daily) with a mild shampoo in the bathtub. Comb it out with a wide-toothed comb, taking extra care not to snag or pull too hard. A super-soft bristle brush will work just fine too.
While it may be tempting to style that massive newborn mane in all sorts of fun ways, try to avoid being too aggressive with elastics and clips. Stick to soft headbands that won’t pull too tight or cause discomfort.
If your baby has some cradle cap on their scalp, you’ll still want to gently brush the skin to exfoliate flakes and massage the skin with a natural plant-based oil. If the peeling seems aggressive, talk to your pediatrician about treatment options.
Bad hair days are a fact of life, so if your newbie nugget is born with some unruly strays (or none at all), don’t sweat it. Their hair will change and grow just as quickly as the rest of their little body. The newborn days go fast, so soak it all in and nuzzle that adorable mullet while you can.