Baby Hair Care: The Complete Parent's Guide
As a parent, you love your baby unconditionally. It doesn’t matter whether they have a full head of baby hair or don’t have a hair on their head!
While you don’t care what your little one has — or doesn’t have — on top of their head, you might still have a few questions about your baby’s hair. This is completely understandable, as it can be hard to know what’s normal and healthy as a new parent. For example, some babies are born as bald as can be, while others are born with a bushy hairdo.
In this post, the baby experts at Mustela will explain everything you need to know about baby hair care. This post will address the following questions:
- Why are some newborns born with baby hair?
- Why do babies lose their hair?
- When will your baby’s permanent hair begin to grow?
- Why is your baby’s hair changing color?
- What’s the best way to wash your baby’s hair?
- When should you cut your baby’s hair?
The answers will provide all the info you need to take extra special care of your little bundle of joy.
Why Are Some Children Born With Baby Hair?
There are a few reasons why some babies are born with hair while others are not. The first cause is genetics. Your and your partner’s DNA is the number one factor in determining your baby’s hair — the color, style, and, of course, whether or not your little one had hair at birth.
A second reason why some babies have hair at birth is exposure to a high level of hormones. While all women experience a boost in hormones during pregnancy, some women’s hormone levels are comparatively higher than others. This causes an increase in the amount of hormones a baby is exposed to in the womb and can lead to a child being born with hair.
Ultimately, the most important thing to know about baby hair is that pretty much everything is normal. Bald babies and hairy babies alike, as well as everything in between, are considered typical and healthy.
Why Do Babies Lose Their Hair?
It’s perfectly normal for your baby to lose the hair they had when they came out into the world — be it a little or a lot — several weeks or months after birth. In fact, most infants will go through a stage of hair loss. It’s nothing to be concerned about.
So why does this loss of baby hair take place? Well, to begin with, all babies grow a thin layer of hair while in the womb. This wispy layer of baby hair is called lanugo and appears all over a baby’s body. The purpose of lanugo is to protect your little one’s delicate skin from the amniotic fluid in which they are submerged while in utero.
Most of the time, a baby will shed their lanugo while in the womb. Lanugo appears sometime around the 16th week of gestation and ordinarily falls off between weeks 32 and 36. However, this is not always the case. Some babies are born with lanugo all over their body. While this is slightly uncommon, it is not a health concern.
After your baby was born, they stopped receiving hormones from your body. This led to a dramatic decrease in their hormone levels, which in turn causes their baby hair to fall out. This means all of your baby’s hair — whether it’s the hair on their head or the lanugo on their body — will fall out in the first four to six months of life.
Another factor that plays a role in your baby’s hair loss is the fact that they spend so much time on their backs. Your little one is on their back for at least the 14 to 16 hours they spend sleeping every day. (It’s extremely important for your child's safety to always put your baby down to sleep on their back. Never mind the bald spots!)
If bald spots appear on the back of your little one’s head, it’s nothing to worry about. These are a normal effect from your baby spending so much time with the back of their head against various surfaces. Try to give your little one plenty of tummy time, and hold your baby in a carrier whenever possible.
When Will Your Baby’s Permanent Hair Begin To Grow?
After your baby has gone through the initial period of hair loss, a new type of hair will grow in. Once all the lanugo has fallen off, your baby will grow a thin, light-colored layer of hair on their body called vellus hair. They will also grow a new head of hair, which they will likely keep throughout childhood.
Your baby’s permanent hair will likely begin to appear around the six-month mark. However, your little one may grow their childhood hair as early as three months or as late as 18 months. Every child is different. It’s considered healthy and normal for babies to grow their big-kid hair any time before two years of age.
Why Is Your Baby’s Hair Changing Color?
It’s very common for a baby’s hair to change in color, thickness, and style as they grow through the first year or two of life. Sometimes, these changes continue all the way through childhood and even adolescence.
You’re probably familiar with this phenomenon. Some babies are born with beautiful curly locks only to have their hair straighten out as they grow a little older. Others are blonde in their early years but turn brunette with time. All of this is perfectly normal.
So why do these changes in baby hair occur? The primary cause, like much of what goes on with your little one’s physical appearance, is genetics. A second prominent cause is hormones.
Remember how much your hormones affected your appearance when you were a teenager? The same sort of thing is happening with your baby. Your little one is developing and balancing their own hormones, which can cause their hair to change.
What’s The Best Way To Wash Your Baby’s Hair?
Washing your baby’s hair is more or less the same as washing your own, with a few small differences. Follow these five steps when washing your little one’s hair and scalp.
1. Prepare a warm bath of approximately 98 degrees Fahrenheit (give or take a few degrees).
2. Hold your hand firmly behind your baby’s head to support their head and neck.
3. Using a small cup, gently pour water over your baby’s head to wet their hair and scalp.
4. Lather Mustela’s Gentle Shampoo or Foam Shampoo For Newborns onto your baby’s head.
5. Carefully rinse the shampoo from your baby’s head with your hand or a small cup.
That’s all there is to it! Washing baby hair isn’t too tough of a task. Here are a few additional tips to know:
- Shampooing your little one’s head is necessary even if they do not have any baby hair.
- You only need to wash your baby’s hair two or three times per week. Shampooing doesn’t need to be part of your baby’s daily hygiene routine.
- Always be extremely gentle when lathering shampoo on your baby’s head. This is especially important if your little one has cradle cap or eczema.
- Dry your baby’s hair as soon as you’re finished washing it.
- Make sure to dress your little one warmly after their bath.
- If your baby’s hair is long enough, give it a quick comb or brush after the bath.
Follow the steps and tips above to keep your baby’s hair and scalp healthy.
When Should You Cut Your Baby’s Hair?
If your baby’s hair is growing long, you may be wondering when to give your little one their first haircut. The answer is: whenever you want! There’s no right or wrong time to give your little one a trim.
With that said, it’s worth taking into consideration how temperamental babies can be. You might want to put your baby’s first haircut off until it’s totally necessary. New situations can be frightening for your baby.
If you decide to give your little one a new ‘do, start the haircut while your baby is well-rested. You should also feed them right before the trimming begins. Your baby is much less likely to be squirmy and cranky when they’re rested and have a full tummy.
Whether your little one has a full head of hair or is completely bald, just remember to follow the tips in this article, take lots of photos at every stage, and pile on the hugs and kisses.