If your baby’s scalp is flaky and/or has thick, yellow or brown crusting patches, it might be cradle cap. You may even notice it on your baby’s ears or eyebrows. Lovely. It’s not the most attractive looking thing, that’s for sure. But rest assured that it is harmless and will eventually go away on its own.
My second son had horrible cradle cap. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was and I had no idea how to treat it. A quick Google search recommended using baby oil on my baby’s head and gently brushing the flakes with a soft baby brush.
While I agree that using oil does help soften the flakes and make it easy to brush them off, the baby oil made my baby’s head way worse. I will say, though, that he had very sensitive skin so that may have played a part in it but either way it was bad.
Through a lot of trial and error, I found a tried and true method for treating cradle cap. Once my third baby came along and I saw those yucky, yellow flakes start forming, I went into action right away and treated her in less than a week.
So I thought I would share what I found that works with all of you!
What is Cradle Cap?
First, you might be wondering what exactly is this nasty, pesky stuff and why does it have to plague my baby.
Cradle cap is actually just a buildup of oils and sloughed skin cells. It is NOT caused by poor hygiene even though it might look like you haven’t bathed your poor baby in a while. The true cause for it, however, is unknown.
Some believe it might be caused by the mother’s hormone at the end of pregnancy or perhaps a yeast. Cradle cap is not contagious and probably does not bother your baby at all.
How to Treat Cradle Cap
Treating cradle cap isn’t fun and it takes some work but the effort will pay off.
I started noticing cradle cap on my daughter when she was about 5 weeks old. It was all over her scalp, ears, and eyebrows. Yuck.
Here is a picture of her scalp. Lovely, right?
Here is how I got rid of it in less than a week.
Step 1 – Cover your baby’s head with Coconut Oil.
When I say cover, I actually mean drown your baby’s scalp in oil. Get it really in there (gently, of course).
Only use Coconut Oil. Do not use any other kind. Coconut oil has a lot of antibacterial and antifungal properties in it. It is hands down the best thing to use. It also won’t clog your baby’s pores which would only make the problem worse. Coconut oil is great for all kinds of stuff and is the only “lotion” I use on my kids as well. It’s amazing!
Side note: You can also use breastmilk for this step. Breastmilk is incredible and will cure almost anything. If you have enough pumped and want to use it, then great! I know not all moms have that kind of stash and I think coconut oil works great too. Your choice!
Step 2 – Put a Hat on and Let it Sit…For…A While
Once you have doused your baby’s hair in oil, you need to let it sit for a while. The amount of time is up to you. Personally, I let it sit for a few hours and at times, overnight.
The hat keeps the oil contained and off of any surfaces that your baby’s head might touch. Trust me, you will want to keep it covered.
Isn’t she cute?
Step 3 – Wash and Scrub!
Once you have let your baby’s head marinate for a period of time, it’s time to get to scrubbing. Wash your baby’s head with baby shampoo (I use Honest Co. which is basically all I can use cause my kids have such sensitive skin). While the shampoo is still in your baby’s hair, use a soft bristle brush and gently start scrubbing the flakes off.
The brush I am using in the above picture is actually a surgical scrub brush that the hospital gave us. It seriously is the softest thing. I found it was perfect for gently scrubbing her head and removing the cradle cap. I actually just placed an order online to buy some more. If you are interested in getting some of your own, here are the ones I just bought (click here).
Step 4 – Rinse and Repeat!
I do this process twice a day and for the first few days, I let the oil sit on my baby’s head overnight. Now, I will say that the oily hair look is not the best but it washes out easily so don’t be alarmed.
Less than a week later, my baby’s head was looking 100x’s better!
Cradle cap is definitely a pain but is easy to treat. Keep at it and don’t be discouraged if you don’t see a lot of improvement right away. Every baby is different and depending on how severe the cradle cap is, it might take some time.
With my son, his was bad. Like really, really bad. It took a good two weeks or more to clear up completely following this same process but I saw a huge difference pretty early on. My daughter’s wasn’t as bad (probably because I caught it early this time) and in less than a week, her skin was looking like new.
I hope this helps any other frustrated moms out there. That was me not too long ago!
Have you tried coconut oil or breastmilk to treat cradle cap? If so, let us know what you thought by dropping a comment below!