Like all new parents, you’ll go through the barely contained curiosity of taking a first peek at your newborn baby.
What will they look like? Who will they resemble most? Once born, you examine their little face features, toes, and fingers, and not lastly, you’ll notice the hair (or the lack of it).
There is no telling what a baby’s hair will look like or how much they’ll have. Some babies are born with a lot of it and some are born with a perfectly bald head. Both are normal situations. And so is everything in between.
All babies will have their hair in eventually, and before you know it you’ll be bribing them to let you brush their hair or planning a first haircut.
Do babies lose their hair?
The short answer is yes, they usually do. During pregnancy, some of the hormones will cross the placenta and circulate through your baby’s body. Shortly after birth, these hormone levels start dropping. If your baby was born with lush hair, you’ll notice they’ll start losing it. The same happens to new mothers when their lush locks slowly disappear after birth. Then later you may see a lot of hair falling at once. This is due to telogen effluvium, the process by which hair is lost three to four months after a stressful event.
Don’t panic when you find scattered baby hairs on their mattress or car seat. Newborn hair starts falling out during the second month, continuing until your baby reaches 6 months of age or so. If your baby spends most of their time on their back you may notice a larger bald patch on the back of their head.
Once the new hair comes in, you may notice it’s a different shade then the original color, most often lighter. Texture will likely be different as well, since newborn baby hair is usually very fine and fragile. As excited as you are about their new locks, refrain from styling your baby’s hair or using any hair elastics until they’re a bit older.
Born with little hair?
So your baby has less hair than your friend’s baby, or no hair at all. Every baby is different and cuteness knows no hair boundaries. Enjoy your little one’s first months of life, hair or no hair.
On the bright side, there is less work cleaning their hair. Use a washcloth to gently clean their scalp and make sure you keep an eye out for when the fuzzy new hair comes in, because it will. Most babies will get their hair in by their 1st birthday. If yours seems to not get there by the time you’re getting the cake ready, don’t worry.
Genetics have a role to play in it too. Revisit your own baby photos for some peace of mind.
If your baby appears bald as they approach their 2nd birthday, talk to your doctor about possible causes for baby baldness. It’s usually suspected if your baby is older than 6 months and still losing lots of hair.
Baby baldness can rarely be caused by fungus or it can be an autoimmune condition. There are treatments available for both cases.
Baby care products
Remember that baby’s skin is very sensitive and some products like shampoo, soap, and laundry detergents, though made for babies, can be too harsh for their skin.
Use the mildest, most natural detergent you can find for their bedding and clothes, and stick to the basics when it comes to bathing baby. Choose fragrance-free, dye-free, mild products that won’t irritate the skin.
Sometimes cleaning baby in warm water using a soft washcloth and the smallest amount of soap is all you need since they do not get grimy and dirty, save for the diaper area. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends bathing your little bundle of joy no more than a couple times a week.
Is that cradle cap?
Many babies will have bouts of oily yet flaky skin bits on their heads, some more than others. If you notice bits of dry skin that look like dandruff, or larger patches and redness on your baby’s head, you are likely looking at cradle cap.
The exact causes of this condition are still not entirely known. The best guess is that the pregnancy hormones are affecting the baby’s oil glands, making their skin secrete more than usual.
The flakes you notice on their scalp appear quite dry and unpleasant, but they don’t bother your little one nor are they contagious. They usually appear during the first week after birth and can persist over the next few months, sometimes even after their 1st birthday. Wash your baby’s head often using a wet washcloth and then a use a soft brush to get rid of the scales.
Some babies respond well to using oil (olive oil for example) to gently massage and loosen up the flaky skin. If the cradle cap expands past the scalp, your doctor may recommend a medicate shampoo.
Make sure to use only natural, unscented cleansers to help reduce the risk of baby eczema.
When to consult a doctor
If your baby’s hair keeps falling after 6 months, check with your doctor for possible other problems like nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, or fungus. Red patches or oozing skin of any kind can point to possible allergies and other skin problems.
The bottom line
Do not worry if your baby is born with little or no hair, or if they lose almost all of it during the first few months after birth. Make sure to keep them out of the sun, more so if their scalp is exposed.
Enjoy every day with your baby and celebrate the magic of those first few months without letting the hair dilemma affect how you feel.
What's considered normal when it comes to baby hair?
There is a huge range of ‘normal’ when it comes to baby hair. Some babies are born with a full head of hair and then lose much of it in the first six months (though some never do). Some babies are born bald and their hair comes in later. And many babies fall somewhere in between. It is also normal to lose more hair on the back of the head and to keep this bald spot longer.Karen Gill, San Francisco-based pediatricianAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.