Whether you're working with a cue ball or mop top, here's when your baby's permanent hair will grow in — and how to care for those locks (or lack thereof) in the meantime.

While a few babies come out with perfectly styled locks, many start off with a spiky mohawk, tufted patches or the scraggly comb-over of a little Homer Simpson. And even more have almost nothing at all. Whatever your baby’s hairstyle du jour, don’t worry too much — or get too attached. Newborn 'dos are hair today, gone tomorrow. Here’s a look at how your baby’s hair can grow and change — plus how to care for whatever coif your cutie’s got.




When do babies grow hair?


Even if your baby is totally bald when she’s born, the seeds of her future locks have long been planted. Hair follicles start to develop by week 14 or 15 of pregnancy, setting the stage for future strands to sprout.


That’s not to say your newborn will necessarily come into the world with a full head of hair — far from it. Most babies have almost none when they’re first born, and the tiny tresses that emerge in those early weeks and months could very well shed between 2 and 3 months.


As for when she’ll start sporting a permanent load of locks. Know that it’ll happen eventually. Exactly when that happens can be anyone’s guess — it’s different for every child. Some get a great new head of hair by 6 months, some not for two or three years. And even if those strands are sparse early on, it doesn’t mean your child’s hair will be thin when she’s older.

Why do babies lose their hair?


Whether your baby was born with a massive mane or started growing a few sprouts that then began to shed, infant hair loss is common and nothing to worry about.

In fact, it’s a normal, physiological response to birth. Some experts link it to plummeting pregnancy hormones — the ones that may have given you great hair too! — which kick off what’s called the exogen phase in some parts of the scalp, causing lots of hair to fall out altogether.

Luckily, the exogen phase is usually followed rather quickly (or even simultaneously) by new hair growth. But the baby hair that grows in may be nothing like your little one’s newborn locks.

Color and texture often change — so your baby’s thick, dark hair could make its reappearance a lot sparser and lighter. Red can give way to blond. Curly can go straight. Surprise, surprise!

How to make baby hair grow


Have dreams of styling a gorgeous, sweet-smelling head of baby hair? While there’s not much you can directly do to get your sweetie’s strands growing, you can give existing tresses the best possible treatment and give her body what it needs to grow healthy and strong from head to toe.

 

  • Keep your baby off of her back when she’s awake. It’s common for younger babies to develop bald patches on the back of their heads, thanks to so much time spent laying on their backs during sleep. While you should always place your baby on her back to sleep (it’s the safest position and can prevent SIDS), try to offer opportunities for her to have that head up while she’s awake. Do plenty of tummy time and hold her upright while you’re playing or reading books if she can’t yet sit up on her own.
  • Avoid over-brushing. Contrary to the old wives’ tale, brushing 100 times a day doesn’t encourage hair growth — and it can actually promote damage and breakage. Brush whatever fuzz your baby has as needed to style it, then stop.
  • Comb — don’t brush — wet hair. Even a little bit of brushing can damage wet hair. If your little one’s locks are long enough that they need some help post-bath, use a comb instead.

  • Steer clear of tight hairstyles. Tempted to do up the little mane your baby does have? Just avoid pulling it back tightly and stick with soft hair bands or clips that won’t pull strands out or break them.
  • Focus on healthy food. It’s a must for your baby’s growth and development overall, so in that sense, wholesome meals and snacks will strengthen and support those lengthening locks. Breast milk or formula is all that your baby needs before 6 months. Once she starts solids, introduce a wide variety of healthy foods and focus on the nutrients that are especially important for babies. Think protein, calcium, whole grains and complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, iron, omega-3s, and vitamins A, B, C and E.
  • Consider coconut oil. Try massaging a dab onto your baby’s noggin after bath time. Very limited research suggests that certain compounds in coconut oil could help combat hair damage and promote a healthy scalp. As with all natural remedies, just run it by your baby’s pediatrician first.
  • Soothe cradle cap. If flaky, red patches have appeared on baby’s scalp, alleviate this common skin condition — also called seborrheic dermatitis — with mineral oil and regular shampooing. This can help clear up the scales and may speed hair growth.

How to care for your newborn's hair


Got a baby with a full head of hair? Caring for those fine locks calls for some finesse, but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Here’s how to keep those newborn strands silky and smooth.

  • Don't wash your baby's hair every day. Particularly with newborns, there’s just no need. Aim for a quick shampoo when you bathe your baby, which doesn’t need to happen more often than a couple times a week.
  • Gently shampoo your baby’s scalp at bath time. A too-brisk scalp massage can stress hair follicles and speed up hair loss or breakage.
  • Use a soft-bristle brush or a wide-toothed comb that won’t snag on tangles or pull your baby’s hair.
  • Avoid headbands or ponytails that pull too tightly, which can damage her locks.
  • If your baby needs a quick trim to look presentable, go for it. Just do it when she’s well-rested and fed so she’ll be less cranky and set her up with some toys to distract her.

Whether your baby is born bald and stays that way for a while or comes out with a long, luxurious mane, her hair situation will likely change. In the meantime, give that sweet little head plenty of kisses and take lots of pictures. A few years from now, you’ll both have fun marveling at the hair she was — or wasn’t! — born with.

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