Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baby Hair Care—Washing, Combing and Caring for Baby’s Scalp

Have you seen (or do you have) a baby with a full on head of hair? A baby without any hair at all? Both extremes are completely normal. In fact, some babies with a whole lot of hair can lose it completely, and some babies lose half of a head of hair, often due to pressure from sleep positions. I’m going to spare my son from future embarrassment and not post a picture of the half head of hair he had and the comb-over his mom (aka – One Sassy Doctor) gave him. Seriously, talk about a parenting moment when mom and dad did not agree: “A hat, Jen, please, or shave it off! He looks like an old man!” vs. “Awww, comb-overs are cute. Look, Donald Trump has one!”

Do I Wash Baby Hair? 
Baby hair requires very little care and can be gently cleaned during a sponge bath using mild soap, making sure not to get the soap in baby’s eyes. Be very gentle around the soft spot, a particularly sensitive area where the four main skull bones meet.

Do I Comb or Brush Baby Hair? 
Yes, but gently. In order to remove dead skin cells from the scalp, you should brush and comb regularly. This prevents layers of dead skin cell “scales” from forming. During the very first few weeks, you may notice flaky skin falling off. This is dried “vernix caseosa” (another medical word!) which is the creamy lining babies are covered with when they are born.

What is “Seborrheic Dermatitis”, or Cradle Cap? 
This is another common condition with thick and greasy and sometimes yellow “goop” forming on the scalp. It may extend to the ears and neck as well. These are easy to remove, using a comb and some mineral or baby oil. Gently comb through a few times daily, and allow the oil to sit on the scalp for a few minutes to soften the scales. There are rare instances when special shampoo is needed, and if the condition persists, definitely discuss this with your pediatrician.

Headbands & Clips 
One Sassy Doctor is not a fan of hair clips on babies—they are a choking hazard and can easily fall out. Headbands can be a strangulation hazard as well—one that parents don’t often realize. If you’re going for that special baby photo or family event and just have to get the hairclip or headband on, do it while baby is awake and always within your sight. Yes, One Sassy Doctor is a conservative mom/doc when it comes to safety—and we’re going to continue to use this platform to stress these issues.

If it’s a sports cap, as long as you’re rooting for Sassy’s Michigan-based or One Sassy Doctor’s New York-based teams, we’re all for them. For hats with ties underneath the neck, remember strangulation hazards and assure they are not too tight and that the string doesn’t extend below the chin.

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