When my son was just around 5 months old, I remember waking up one day and being scared because I saw a small dry skin patch on his scalp. Before I could fathom what it was, it started spreading rapidly. Now I have a really bad dry skin and I thought the poor little thing has inherited that from me. (Although I later realized he actually did a bit). I remember calling my sister frantically but she calmed me down saying it happens to almost all babies and I shouldn’t worry. And honestly away it went, albeit after 2-3 months.
Later I realized its called cradle cap (cradle – because it happens when the baby is still in the cradle and cap – because it mostly occurs on the scalp and covers most of it)
How to identify cradle cap in babies
You will notice small yellow flaky skin on the scalp. Sometimes it could be in the diaper areas or on the back, behind the ear etc. This doesn’t cause any pain to the baby but it looks very scary, especially to a new mom.
What causes cradle cap in babies
As with many newborn related things, doctors don’t understand the exact reasons for this. But there are two most common reasons as to why it happens –
- Baby’s oil glands make excess oil and then don’t know what to do and it starts creating this baby dandruff.
- In a few extreme cases, it’s also thought the mother’s hormones play a role and for a few extreme cases, a temporary stop in breastfeeding is recommended by the pediatricians.
How to take care of cradle cap in babies
In most of the cases, the cradle cap goes away just the way it came. While it’s there, we should wash the baby’s scalp more often than we normally would with gentle baby soap. A gentle massage on the scalp loosens the dandruff and then post-wash, you should just gently brush the scalp with a baby brush so the dandruff starts falling off. Just a little oil in the scalp helps too. So maybe 2-3 drops of coconut oil should be enough. Also keeping the baby’s scalp dry and free of sweat is important.
In severe cases, cradle cap can be the starting of something more serious like eczema. So if you have a family history of eczema, and you think your baby’s case is one of the really severe ones, please go to your pediatrician. He might suggest for a steroid ointment to be put in the scalp. But these are rare cases and hopefully, it should go away.
In a few cases, it’s the allergy to milk which causes this. As the milk carries the mother’s hormones leading to a much worse case of cradle cap. This isn’t exactly lactose intolerance, but an allergy to milk. So when the cradle cap is cured, the milk can probably be restarted.
But these steps should be taken only in the pediatrician’s advice.
Anyway, this too shall pass. So new moms don’t forget to enjoy your baby and have fun with parenting!