Some babies are born bald and seem to take forever to grow those precious first few locks of hair. And other babies are with a full head of hair. Sometimes a baby can be born with a good amount of hair on its head, and then it all falls out within the first few days. So, what gives and can you control it? Or is it all up to genetics?
The truth is–DNA is the biggest factor. But some babies can grow luscious manes in utero due to high levels of hormonal exposure. Hormone levels naturally vary from one woman to another, so it’s not a matter of health but individual differences. The most important thing to remember is that every baby is unique and whether they’re born bald or with a head full of hair, both are considered healthy.
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When Does Baby’s Hair Grow?
The fetus grows hair all over its body in stages. At about 14 weeks of pregnancy, hair follicles develop. Babies don’t grow new follicles after birth, so their hair patterns are set in utero, even if no hair is visible at birth. At the 20-week mark, the fetus will grow eyebrows, upper lip, and chin hair. At 22 weeks, the fetus grows lanugo all over the head and body. By 23 weeks, the fetus produces melanin, which adds color to the hair.
Your baby will have one hair growth cycle in utero, producing visible hair at birth. Then, rapid hormonal changes cause the infant to lose that hair within the first few weeks or months of life. And then a new growth stage begins to replace that hair. This is why hair color, texture, or volume can change significantly during the first few years.
Some Basics About Human Hair
Did you know that hair can grow almost anywhere on the body? It’s the hair on our heads that we’re the most attached to. This hair is a simple structure tasked with keeping the head warm and providing a small cushion for the skull. But its biggest job is actually in appeasing our vanity. We take pride in the appearance of our hair, and we use it as an aesthetic quality to judge and label others in social situations.
Hair follicles act like an anchor, holding individual hair strands in the skin. The bulb of a hair strand forms at the base of the follicle and receives nourishment from blood vessels that nurture the growth of the hair. Hair growth is cyclical. Around 90% of all hair on the head is in a growth phase at any given time. The remaining 10% goes into a transitional phase where it stops growing. As one hair dies, a new hair begins a growth cycle, eventually pushing the dead hair out.
While most youth and adults experience hair growth at a rate of one-half inch per month, these growth rates can vary widely from one person to another. Hormonal balance and individual nutrition can also affect hair growth rates, as well as several known medical conditions.
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Babies will lose the hair that they’re born with over the first several months. But when they begin to grow, their permanent hair varies by individual. Most babies will begin to grow their permanent locks around six months of age, but some may begin growing hair as young as three months or as old as eighteen months.
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Home Hacks to Help Baby’s Hair Grow
If you’re feeling a bit impatient about your baby’s bald head, they’re a few things you can try to stimulate hair growth.
Gently Massage or Brush Baby’s Scalp
Gentle stimulation on the scalp encourages blood flow. If the new hair is ready to begin growing and is simply being a little slow at it, this can help get things moving. You can try applying safe vital oils or natural gelatin to the baby's scalp as a way to naturally stimulate hair growth.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Aside from genetics, the second biggest influencing factor in hair growth is diet. If you want your baby to grow a full head of hair, it’s important to make sure that your baby is receiving a balanced, healthy diet.
Maintain Good Hygiene
It’s important to wash your baby’s scalp with a gentle shampoo, even when there is no visible hair. Shampoo can remove a buildup of oils that can block follicles and slow down hair growth. While you don’t need to shampoo every day, you should aim at least twice per week during bathtime. You’ll also want to take care of eczema, cradle cap, and other skin conditions that can occur on the scalp and may interfere with healthy hair growth.
Avoid Hair Ties, Clips, and Bows
Be careful about what items you put in your baby’s hair. Although we all find those little bows to be adorable, they may be damaging your infants’ fragile strands and causing breakage that is working against growing that full head of hair.
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The Bottom Line on Baby’s Hair Growth
Hair grows at different rates. That is true whether we’re talking about a three-month-old baby or a 30-year-old adult. And ultimately, how much hair a person will have is determined by their genetics. An infant born with a luscious head of hair may have received a good roll of the genetic dice, or perhaps they were exposed to a high level of hormones in development.
Unfortunately, babies born with a lot of hair won’t necessarily grow up to have a lot of hair. It’s a cruel trick that human development plays on us. But that should be good news for mamas of bald little babies. Aside from genetics, you can thank a good diet and gentle stimulation for promoting healthy hair growth.
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