How to Manage Your Baby’s Dry, Flaky Scalp – AKA Cradle Cap

As with most things, there’s a lot of contradictory information on the web regarding Cradle Cap and how to manage it. Here we lay out the facts and our recommendations that come from 25+ years in the kids’ salon & haircare industry, which includes not just research, but real-world experience.

What is Cradle Cap? Simply put, Cradle Cap is crusty, flakey scales that can appear on a baby’s scalp as early as a few weeks old throughout the first year or two.  Although cradle cap-or seborrheic dermatitis- is pesky, it’s actually harmless. It’s not painful, contagious or itchy.

What causes Cradle Cap? Although they don’t know for sure, they think it may be caused by hormones that pass from the mother to the baby before birth. These hormones can cause too much production of oil (sebum) in the oil glands and hair follicles.  It is not caused by poor hygiene or bacteria

How to get rid of Cradle Cap? This is where you will find many different opinions and recommendations. From our experience we have found that massaging a light oil (like coconut oil) onto the scalp and then leave it on for a few minutes will help to loosen the dead skin. Then use a gentle baby shampoo (preferably one without parabens or sulfates) and a very soft bristle brush or washcloth to gently remove the oil and the dead skin. Just be careful not to pick or scratch at the scalp.  Lastly, gently and thoroughly rinse out shampoo, oil and dry skin.

How to prevent Cradle Cap? Shampooing baby’s hair with a mild shampoo every few days should help.  It’s important to understand that using oil to remove the flakes is not a preventative method, as it would clog the pores and potentially cause a flare up.  That’s why it’s important to be sure to remove it with a gentle shampoo.

If this process doesn’t help or if it’s severe or spreading to other parts of the body, we recommend that you see your baby’s pediatrician.

Good luck!

Cozy Friedman