Caring For The African-American Infant’s Hair

baby2How can you not think of your baby as a real, living doll?!  Her chubby cheeks are so cute you can pinch them, and his little toes are so….you get the idea.   You can barely stop yourself from dressing them in cute little get-ups before running to whip out the old Nikon for the 74 thousandth time.    Baby adoration extends to – and can almost be dominated by – the desire to make your baby’s hair look its best at all times.    As hard as it will be, you’re going to have to step away from the comb and resist the urge to do too much to your baby’s hair.

You need to pay close attention to how you take care of your baby’s hair, but you don’t have to do too much to it.   Those times will come later, and you will remember with longing when you didn’t have to do too much of anything to make your little darling’s hair look beautiful.  Some African American babies are born with nary a strand of hair on their heads, while others burst into the world looking like they’re wearing wigs.   For both babies, the regimen is simple.

Be Gentle!

Always keep in mind that your baby’s tender, soft scalp is still in the early stages of development.    It’s still very fragile and cannot withstand the stress that comes from too much pulling and combing.   You also shouldn’t use many of the products that you use on your own hair.   Many of those products are too heavy for young tresses and can weigh them down, putting undue stress on developing follicles.   Those same products may also contain ingredients that could cause scalp irritation and rashes.    With babies and hair care, less is always more.

Washing Your Infant’s Hair

  • Choose a mild, gentle baby shampoo and apply a small amount to your baby’s scalp.   Adult shampoos have higher pH levels than baby shampoos, and those higher levels can cause a baby’s hair to tangle.  Use baby shampoo or the mildest regular shampoo you can find.   Using a soft cloth or your hand, gently smooth the shampoo over the baby’s head.  You’re not trying to work up a lather, but instead merely allowing the shampoo to remove and dirt and oil that may have built up.
  • Remove the shampoo with lukewarm water.  Follow up with a mild conditioner, especially as your baby gets older.   For babies with longer hair, use a wide-toothed comb to – gently – work out any tangles.   As your baby’s hair grows, it may become thicker, curlier, and more prone to tangling and dryness, and will benefit from the conditioning properties of a mild, moisturizing conditioner.
  • After the wash, you may want to apply a dab of natural oil like extra virgin coconut oil.  Oils like this can help keep your baby’s tresses from drying out.  Run your fingers through your baby’s hair to style, or use a soft brush or wide-toothed comb.

Styling Your Infant’s Hair

‘It may be hard, but you should try and resist the urge to style your infant’s hair except for events like picture day or special outings.  There is plenty of time for that later.  This is the time in baby’s life when the hair can and should be for the most part be left alone.

  • Styling products, or accessories like barrettes or beads, can cause stress and damage on an adult’s hair, so imagine what it can do to an infant’s hair.  Don’t use rubber bands.   They pull and break the hair right off, even on an adult’s head.  Instead, use accessories like coated hair ties that are specially made to protect the hair from damage.
  • Don’t pull your baby’s hair back in too tight a ponytail because it will break off right at the hairline.   If you want to pull the hair back, loosely hold it back using a silk-lined hairband.

Shedding “Baby” Hair and New Growth

Your baby may shed hair in the first six months, and the new hair that grows in its place may be a different texture and color than the original hair. This is completely normal and should not be a cause for concern.  If the new hair is dry, you will need to make sure that your baby’s receives plenty of moisture and conditioning from natural oils and conditioners that infuse the hair with moisture as well as seal it in.   Don’t resort to chemical processes on your child’s hair (people have done it!).  You will permanently damage your child’s hair.

Cradle Cap

Many African American babies get cradle cap, which tends to show up in the first six months of life.  It presents as scabby, crusty areas on the scalp.   It’s very common, and usually goes away by itself.   Check with your baby’s doctor to confirm that’s all it is, and then just take care of the area by gently rubbing it with a soft cloth when cleaning the scalp.   You can also use a softening oil like coconut oil to sit on the area for about 30 minutes to soften the area.  Do not rub or comb the area to hard, which may lead to irritation.

References:

African American Babies: Hair Care http://www.babycenter.com/0_african-american-babies-hair-care_10330036.bc

Author: Sakai Blue

Sakai Blue is a UK-born, New York-based writer with an extensive background in TV and advertising. She writes and produces television promos, and writes beauty, health, home design and finance articles for various online sites. She can always be found with her Macbook Pro in hand, and her Final Cut Pro running.

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20 Comments

  1. I would recommend that you use argan oil. I have one called Pro Natural’s moroccan argan oil that I got online and I’ve been loving it so far because argan oil is supposed to be really good hair food and since it’s all natural, it would be safe for babies too. It also smoothes down the frizzes and makes hair nice and shiny, plus it’s not greasy AT ALL and smells great. :)

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  2. How often should you wash an infants hair?

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  3. I am in search for a conditioner and shampoo that is great and add moisture. My daughter will be ten months this week, I believe maybe she’s not getting enough water. Her hair sucks up moisture, so I love to use the water, and Shea mixture! Works great, and helps promote growth! That tough hard spot in the back is not our friend so we treat it nice anyway lol. It’s getting along with us now. I now use burts bees

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    • I like Shea Moisture baby/kids products. You can get it at target and Walgreens for sure.

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  4. I am a mother of 5 month old twins (girl/boy). They both suffered from cradle cap and baby acne. Our pediatrician wrote a prescription for Fluocinolone Acetonide 0.01% Topical Oil. Its consistentcy is a little thicker than baby oil. It was gently massaged on their scalps and gently washed out with baby shampoo. It was also applied to their acne twice a day. Their acne and cradle cap began to disappear within a few days. I continued this process for the 2 weeks as prescribed.

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  5. My 6 month old has extremely dry fair and horrible cradle cap!! She also has eczema very bad. Her hair around her temples is gone from where the cradle cap was causing her hair to come out and in the back she has huge bald spot from where she rubs her head on objects in an attempt to scratch it. We really went to the Dr. to get something to help with the itching, but in afraid she’s going to continue losing her hair. Its very fragile and fine in the front, but dry and almost matted looking in the back above the bald spot. Any suggestions on how I can save what hair she has left??? Thanks

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  6. I have a 4 month old son dealing with serious cradle cap I tried everything the more I do the less
    Hair he as helppp plz

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    • My daughter had cradle cap. What I did was take some baby oil and put it on her scalp and gently rubbed her scalp with my nails (it gets a little gross because it all ends up under your nails as your doing it lol). You have to wash it right after you do that because leaving oil on the scalp will irritate it even more. I did that twice and it pretty much went away. A couple of days after the first time doing it, I used the comb I got from the hospital and combed at it a little bit at a time to try and loosen it up. Hope this helps :)

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    • My daughter had cradle cap real bad

      I used olive oil which worked a treat.

      Put the oil in his hair and leave for a whole day before washing. Then gently rub out the flakes with ur fingers and wash out.
      Repeat!

      It cured my daughters in a week

      Good luck

      X

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    • Hi,

      My daughter too suffered from craddle cap…nothing worke with her except using virgin coconut oil. It also helped her skin when she had a terrible breakout- I still do not beleive it wasa result of baby acne as her peditrician claimed. She now has no problems with her skin….

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  7. My 5 months daughter has really nice soft hair but it gets really dry some times I don’t know what to use for her hair please help

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    • Hi coconut oil is very good for the hair and scalp. Add a little to baby’s towel dried hair. I blend it with a little Vaseline that has no fragrance just to hold in the moisture. My family has used this for years and have long growing hair. My daughter who is 1 month old is reaping the benefits…her hair is growing like crazy. I also use Johnson’s natural shampoo which I find makes the hair soft unlike their original brand.

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    • Some people are opposed to petroleum but I don’t use it on the scalp just a dab in my hand and apply it to the hair after I apply coconut oil to the hair and scalp first. I believe in use what works for the baby. This worked for all my children as well as myself and it’s great!

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  8. What type of oils??? This is extremely general is there more specific information ???

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    • I have a daughter who has had a lot of hair since she was born. Now that she’s six months, her hair is very thick, curly, bushy and soft. At first I wasn’t trying to do much to her hair because she was a baby, but her hair started to get dry and tangled. Her scalp was also dry. So I realized that her hair needed to be really well taken care of and conditioned especially since she had a lot of it.
      She gets a bath a few times a week . Not everyday. (Might be too harsh on her skin) I wash her hair once a week with a gentle shampoo. Even though she has soft hair, it’s still thick & she’s African American, so I don’t believe she should get it washed with shampoo every time she takes a bath. It just gets rinsed out & conditioned….like I do mine.
      I use Aveeno Baby Wash & Shampoo. Johnson & Johnson products made her hair dry & brittle. They seemed too strong. The Aveeno is the only thing I use in her hair that’s not 100% natural. As soon as the bottle runs out, I’m going to switch to something all natural. But because I only wash her hair with it once a week, its perfectly fine. Don’t rub or scratch scalp…just gently massage it for a minute or so. My daughter sleeps on her back now and then, so I pay attention to that spot in the back/middle of her head. Not sure if you noticed, but a lot of babies have that bald spot back there because its not properly taken care of. That area of my daughter’s hair is a little drier than the rest.
      Once its washed, I use California Baby Canlendula conditioner (they have a whole line at target)—- I love it. I leave it in for about 2-3 minutes while I wash her up. Before I rinse it out, I comb through her hair with a wide tooth comb. The conditioner is also a detangler, so it’s perfect. It leaves her hair very soft vs shampoo alone. A little pricey, but it’s worth it.
      Once her hair is towel dried ( leave it a little damp), I add the all natural shea butter that comes in chunks. It’s not processed or anything. (I bought a tub from the beauty supply for my stretch marks when I was pregnant for about 7 bucks & I still have a lot left.) Sometimes afterwards, I put a few fat semi loose braids in her hair and leave that in for a day or so. Sometimes I spray some of Carol’s Daughter Monoi Anti Breakage spray. (Very light, all natural as well). I’ll take out the braids the day she gets a bath, rinse her hair & condition it, then I may put the braids back in.
      On the days that her hair isn’t braided (which is most of the time), part of her nightly routine before she sleeps is putting some water/ shea butter throughout her head. I also apply some directly on the back/middle part of her head/scalp. Doing this throughout the week keeps her hair soft. When its time for a wash/condition/comb, she’s never in pain because of the routine throughout the week.
      When its time to go out. I use the water/shea before she gets dressed so her hair wont be damp when we leave the house. It’ll be curly, shiny (but not shiny like she has a lot of product in her hair) & SOFT.

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      • Thank you for sharing your hair care routine. I have been looking for information to help me care for my baby’s hair since she was born!

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      • What kind of she a buttet

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      • How do you apply the water and Shea mixture? A water bottle? My baby is 7 months and her hair sucks up moisture no matter what I use. I put coconut oil and shea butter daily and I use a hair milk to soften it as its really dry. No breakage, I have her sleeping on a satin pillow case.

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      • Thank you!!! My daughter has a head full of hair too…same as you described your child. I have been up in arms about what to do! lol

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