Washing Your Baby’s Hair

Baby in bathtub
Washing your Baby’s Hair Worry Free
If you are a first time parent, doing anything with your newborn can seem scary and complicated. Babies need everything done for them, from changing their diapers to bathing them, the list goes on and every parent worries that they might do something wrong. Knowing how to wash a baby’s hair has to be high on the list of how am I supposed to do that list. Fortunately, there is plenty of help out there and below are some tips on how to correctly wash your baby’s soft little head.
Bald Babies
There are some babies that have a full head of hair when they are born and others that have little or no hair at all. If your baby is on the bald side, you will still need to wash their scalp. To do this, hold the baby’s head up with one hand while they are in their bathtub. With your free hand, slowly pour a cup of warm and soapy water onto the scalp. Make sure the baby’s head is tilted so no water or soap gets in his or her eyes.
For the first few weeks, just use warm water to wash your baby off as soap can make their skin dry out and become flaky. When your baby is about a month old, you can add a bit of mild soap to their bath water. Choose a soap that is PH neutral, to avoid aggravating your baby’s sensitive skin.
What to Use on Baby’s Hair
With young babies, a soft sponge or flannel can be used on the head and body. Make sure to support the baby’s head with one hand, tilting it back slightly. Gently pat the baby’s head with the flannel or sponge until the hair is clean. Many parents tend to be scared of touching the soft spot on their baby’s head. However, these spots have a thick membrane protecting them and this area needs to be cleaned as well as the rest of the head.
When your baby is over a month old, you will want to start using a mild baby shampoo on their hair. Simply wet your baby’s head with a sponge or cloth and then apply a small drop of shampoo. Massage the shampoo into the hair gently, until there is a lather. Use a cup of warm water to rinse the soap off the baby’s head. Remember to tilt the head back to avoid getting soap in their eyes. Make sure that all of the soap is removed from their head because if it is not their scalp can become very dry, which leads to cradle cap. Make sure to wash your baby’s hair last as sitting in a tub full of shampoo water can cause urinary track infections.
How Often Does My Baby’s Hair Need Washed?
You should not wash your baby’s hair every day and most midwives will advise against every other day as well. Simply wash your baby’s hair as needed. Washing his or her hair too often can dry out the baby’s scalp causing cradle cap. Instead of washing their hair everyday, just wipe their heads with a washcloth to remove the dirt.
Types of Shampoo
Adult shampoo contains sulphate and is harsher than shampoos designed specifically for infants. There are several baby shampoos that have a higher PH, while they are milder and kind to a baby’s skin and hair, they can cause your baby’s hair to tangle. Shampoos that are made especially for babies, which have a ph of 4.5 to 6, are recommended to help avoid tangling and keep your baby’s hair soft and clean.
What to Do if Your Baby Doesn't Like Having Their Hair Washed
There are some babies that simply do not like having their hair washed. They may scream, thrash about, and kick to try to avoid having their hair washed. This can make bath time quite awful for both parent and child and not an enjoyable bonding experience, as it should be. If this sounds like your experience with bath time, there are several tips that may help. If you have a young baby who does not like his or her hair washed, you can try wrapping them tightly in a towel and holding them in your arms.
Use a warm bowl of water to gently wet their hair, then shampoo it and rinse it thoroughly using a cup of warm water. This is similar to using the swaddling technique to lay them in their crib. It makes them feel more secure to be swaddled in something like a towel or blanket.
For older babies, distraction works well. If your baby throws a fit when it comes time to wash their hair, try giving them a toy to play with first. Sharing a bath with an older sibling may help as well. Many babies enjoy mimicking, so talking to them while washing their hair and getting them to mimic your actions may help soothe them.
Some babies will eventually develop a bald spot on the back of their head. The cause of this is from lying on their backs and rubbing their heads against the blanket or mattress. The hair will typically grow back quickly and may even be a different color. Your baby’s hair may do many crazy things, but do not fret, it is not because you are washing it wrong.
Finally, Relax! This is the most important thing for new parents to remember. Your baby will feed off your energy and knows when you are worked up over something. If you take the time to relax, your baby will feel more at ease as well. Bath time should be a way to bond with your baby, massage their little hands and feet, and take the time to get to know your baby.
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