How to Get Rid of Cradle Cap: Things You Can Do at Home

Tiny scales or petite flakes of skin may have started appearing on your baby's delicate head and scalp. You might wonder, "What is this new development in my baby's life?" This mystery, my dear friend, is solved with the term 'infantile seborrheic dermatitis'. But don't worry, it's much less intimidating than it sounds! It's a mouthful, yes, but it's simply the medical jargon for a condition affectionately known as 'cradle cap'.

Welcome to the club - cradle cap is a common visitor in many nurseries, making a grand appearance in the lives of numerous babies. It might come off as an uninvited guest, but remember, it's usually just a temporary tenant, rarely causing harm to your little one.

Even though cradle cap might give you a start with its unsightly look, rest assured, it's usually as harmless as a whimsical tale. It's kind of like a grumpy gnome who likes to show up unannounced and unsettle the peace in the enchanted land of parenthood, but it has no real power to do much damage.

Despite its harmless nature, you might be wondering, "How can I send this tiny gnome packing? How do I restore peace in my baby's scalp?" Well, I'm glad you asked! Here are some magical tricks that can soothe your baby's scalp and help show cradle cap the door.

Firstly, remember the power of gentleness. A soft baby brush and a mild shampoo can work wonders. Secondly, never underestimate the power of a comforting oil massage. A little bit of baby or coconut oil on the scalp can provide the needed care.

Lastly, patience is your greatest ally. Just like many phases in your little one's life, cradle cap too shall pass. Until then, keep providing the gentle care that only a parent can give. After all, the journey of parenthood is filled with magical moments, even when they involve dealing with something as pesky as cradle cap.

a swaddled baby looking up

What is a Cradle Cap?

Cradle cap is infantile seborrheic dermatitis that occurs on the heads of newborns and infants. This condition causes scaly, greasy, and yellow-colored patches that resemble adult dandruff to appear on the scalp of babies. For most babies, this condition is harmless but it can cause some discomfort for your baby.

Related: Newborn Hives: How Do I Stop It?

Cradle cap is caused by the overproduction of oil in the sebaceous glands around the scalp, especially around the hair follicles. Sebum, which is the oil that is produced in the oil glands of the skin, reacts to yeast on the skin called Malassezia and can cause cradle cap. Another factor that may cause cradle cap is the mother experiencing hormonal changes during the pregnancy. 

In most cases, cradle cap will resolve on its own within a few months of beginning treatment. There are some cases of cradle cap lasting longer than a year after starting treatment. Remember to be gentle any time that you are dealing with a baby’s skin since it is much softer and more sensitive than our skin is. 

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Home Remedies to Deal With Cradle Cap

Even if cradle cap resolves on its own, try these home remedies to shorten the duration of the condition and to make your baby feel a bit more comfortable.

 a baby in a bath


Use a Mild Shampoo

Before you begin, you will need to make sure that you choose a baby shampoo that does not have a fragrance or any other irritating chemicals. This is to ensure that you do not irritate your baby’s skin any further.

Related: Think Your Baby Has a Cold? Here's What to Do!

Gently wet the baby’s hair using warm water and begin to slowly massage the shampoo into the baby’s scalp. Make sure you work the shampoo in gently but thoroughly using your fingertips. Take care not to damage the fontanelle, which is the soft spot of the baby’s skull.

After shampooing, use warm water to rinse the baby’s head taking care not to get shampoo or water into their face or ears. Pat dry with a clean, dry towel. You can wash the baby’s head as frequently as once daily.

If the mild shampoo does not work effectively, your baby’s pediatrician can recommend or prescribe a shampoo that is medicated and formulated to treat cradle cap. 

emollient oil


Use Oil as an Emollient

Another home remedy for cradle cap is to use oil as an emollient. An emollient is something that will soothe and soften the skin. The emollient forms a protective film that keeps moisture in the skin and is often used to manage skin conditions that present with itchy, dry, or even flaky skin such as psoriasis and eczema. 

Related: Infant Startle Reflex: What is it & How Long Does it Last?

Using an emollient on a baby’s cradle cap will aid in breaking down the scaly and greasy patches that are the hallmark symptom of the condition. Some of the common emollient oils that can be used safely on a baby’s scalp are coconut oil, mineral oil, olive oil, and baby oil.

Using a clean finger or a fresh cotton swab, apply a thin layer to the baby’s clean and dry scalp to treat the redness, flaking, and scaling that cradle cap causes. Massage the scalp with your fingertips to work the emollient deep into the affected areas and loosen up scales so they are easier to be removed. Take extra care not to get any of the oil into the mouth, nose, eyes, and ears of the baby.

Leave the oil of choice on your baby’s scalp for as long as possible so that the emollient has time to work into the skin. Make sure you wash the scalp after with a milk shampoo to wash off any remaining oil and flakes that have loosened up.

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Use a Brush

Brushing the scalp is a great way to help clear the cradle cap up from your baby’s scalp. Make sure that you are using a brush with soft bristles since you want to avoid further irritating your baby’s scalp.

Use some warm water to wet the baby’s hair and scalp. Take the soft-bristled brush and use it to brush and massage the scalp in a circular motion while making sure to use gentle pressure to gradually loosen any of the cradle cap scales. After you finish brushing, rinse with warm water and use a gentle shampoo to clean up any remaining scales and debris.

It can take multiple sessions with the brush to treat cradle cap but this method is much more gentle than other methods such as medication so don’t be discouraged if it takes some time. 

Final Thoughts

In the thrilling chapter of parenthood, there's a little quest that many new parents embark upon, a journey called 'Treating Cradle Cap'. It might sound daunting, but in truth, it's as easy as pie and can be carried out in the comfort of your own home. All it requires is a sprinkle of patience, a dollop of care, and a recipe brimming with love.

Imagine yourself as the gentle caretaker of a precious little garden - your baby's scalp. Like any devoted gardener, your first rule of thumb is to be gentle, to cherish each petal, every leaf - or in this case, every strand of hair and each bit of tender skin. With the softness of a mother's touch or a father's warmth, treating a cradle cap can transform from a routine task into an intimate ritual of care.

Remember, it's not a race against the clock but a journey to be savored. So don't rush, take your time. Soon enough, you'll see the 'Cradle Cap Challenge' for what it truly is - a way to connect deeper with your child.

With a mild shampoo in one hand, a soft brush in the other, and your baby in your lap, you're all set to commence this intimate ritual. The soft brush sweeps across the landscape of your baby's scalp, as gentle as the first snowfall, disrupting the stubborn cradle cap's reign. Then, the mild shampoo, like a summer rain, washes away the remnants, leaving a clean and cradle cap-free scalp behind.

And before you know it, the task is complete. Just like that, with the power of a parent's love and gentle care, you've cleared your baby's scalp up in no time! Victory is yours. The pesky visitor, the cradle cap, is banished, and peace reigns again in the magical kingdom of your baby's scalp.

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