My daughter was born with the most beautiful hair but the one thing I didn’t educate myself about was how to properly care for her delicate hair and scalp. Many of the gifts that I received at my baby shower included bath and lotion sets. Within those sets were the 2 in 1 body wash and shampoo. At the time, I didn’t think anything was wrong with using that until I started to notice subtle changes in my daughters hair which prompted me to do some research!
Most babies of color babies are born with thick, coarse, curly or wavy hair that requires special care and should be treated gently! 2 in 1 products are not the way to go.
Here’s how to keep your baby’s hair clean, moisturized, and tangle-free:
Babies of color don’t produce as much oil in their hair as asian and caucasian babies so it’s important that we only wash our children’s hair once a week. Biracial babies’ hair is usually less curly and they produce more oil, so if necessary, you can wash the hair twice a week. Over washing can strip away the natural oils of the scalp and leave hair dry, brittle, and frizzy. Early on you should only use a mild baby shampoo to protect your baby’s texture.
Combing and detangling
My daughter has thick tight coiled hair. To protect her scalp and prevent breakage I:
- Use a wide-tooth comb or soft-bristle brush.
- Never try to comb out her thick hair when it’s dry.
- Apply a small amount of oil or cream moisturizer to help detangle her hair. I use Cantu Care for Kids Conditioning Detangler.
It’s important to moisturize your baby’s hair to keep it soft and manageable. Finding the right regimen will depend on your baby’s hair texture and structure, so you may need to experiment with different products. Here are a couple of options:
- Look for a natural product such as jojoba oil, emu oil, avocado oil, virgin coconut oil, or almond oil at natural food stores.
- Create your own moisturizer by mixing a light oil (sweet almond oil or light virgin olive oil) with natural ingredients (rosemary or lavender).
- Distribute a small amount of the moisturizer onto your fingertips and gently sweep it through the hair and onto the scalp.
Your baby may be sensitive or allergic to some ingredients, like essential oils, so watch closely for unusual reactions or breakouts. Avoid products with mineral oil or petroleum jelly because they tend to clog the pores.
My baby’s scalp is flaky. Is it dandruff?
Most likely it’s cradle cap (also called seborrheic dermatitis) or eczema (also called atopic dermatitis). Both conditions are common in African American infants.
Cradle cap shows up in the first few months of life as crusty, white or yellowish patches on the scalp. It’s not pretty, but it’s harmless. Cradle cap will typically go away on its own within a few months, but if it bothers you, try shampooing more often and gently brushing your baby’s scalp with a soft brush or massaging it with a terry cloth towel. For stubborn cases, apply a small amount of coconut or olive oil and let sit for 20 to 30 minutes, then gently use a soft bristle brush to remove the scales before shampooing. It’s important not to scratch, comb, or vigorously brush the scalp to remove flakes, as this can cause further irritation.
Eczema appears as a red, dry, itchy rash on the scalp. A baby with eczema has extremely sensitive skin. Most studies indicate that the tendency to have eczema is inherited. Eczema typically develops in babies between 2 and 6 months of age. In severe cases it can be very irritating and cause hair dryness and breakage. If your baby has eczema, use mild, fragrance-free soaps and shampoos, such as those made for sensitive skin. To treat the condition, apply a natural oil, such as jojoba or coconut, or an emollient cream, like shea butter.
How can I style my baby girl’s hair?
Leaving a newborn’s hair loose and natural allows the hair follicles to grow stronger. But as your baby girl gets older, you can try different styles, like ponytails, plaits, and braids, depending on the length of her hair.
When styling your baby’s hair in braids or ponytails, use smooth bands or covered elastic bands. Rubber bands cause too much friction on the hair and can lead to breakage.