Babies & hair growth

By Rachel Schwartz
Some babies grow thick hair at a young age.

Some babies seem to stay bald for years. Others have a full head of hair at birth. All babies have their own hair growth pattern. Overall though, there are similarities in baby hair growth, just different timing for when the growth happens, even in the same family. A parent should have no reason for concern if their baby seems to have more or less hair than other babies of the same age.

Babies Grow Hair Twice

Babies grow hair two separate times. The first growth happens inside the womb, and the second sometime after birth, even beginning as late as eighteen months of age. When and how this second hair growth happens varies with the individual baby. Some babies begin to grow the second head of hair before they have lost the first and the change does not appear obvious. Others lose the first hair long before growing their second head of hair, remaining nearly bald for months or even years. The first and second growths of hair often have different colours and textures.

Hair Loss

Babies lose their first head of hair as a normal stage in their development. It may take place before the baby's birth. In this case, the baby would be born bald. A baby may also lose their hair as late as at six months old, or anytime up until then. This may happen gradually, or suddenly. Many babies lose more hair in particular places, such as the backs of their heads where their heads rub against their car seats. In rare cases, baby hair loss may be due to a medical problem.

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is a very common scalp condition where oil and dead skin accumulate on a baby's head causing dry, scaly patches and rashes that look acne-like. Some babies have more severe cases. Basic baby scalp and hair care will help reduce the amount of cradle cap on a baby's head. For severe cradle cap, parents should ask their child's paediatrician for advice.

Medical Problems

Occasionally, a baby's hair loss or cradle cap indicates a serious medical condition. Smooth circular bald places may indicate a condition with the immune system called alopecia areata. If the circular bald places have red flaking skin, this may indicate a fungal infection called ringworm. Irregular hair shafts or scalp may indicate a number of other problems such as monilethrix, pili annulati, trichorrhexis and Menkes disease. Only a doctor can diagnose and treat these conditions.

Hair Care

Your baby's hair should be washed every three to four days with a gentle baby shampoo or cleanser for sensitive skin such as Cetaphil. Massage the shampoo into baby's hair gently and thoroughly rinse. Then, dry the baby's hair with a towel and apply either baby oil or lotion to the scalp. Brush the dry skin from the hair and scalp with a gentle baby hairbrush.