Caring for Cradle Cap

The first time (I thought) I’d ever seen cradle cap was in the hospital after delivering the Little Bee. As a majorly nervous new mom, I noticed every little thing that I thought might possibly cause her pain—and the patchy skin on the top of her head was one of them. She had a lot of hair at birth, but I had a mother’s hawk eyes and could see it through her very dark hair. I brought it up with the amazing nurse that was with us because I’d heard of cradle cap and thought that’s what it was. Well, I was wrong—it was just dry skin. But since then, I’ve seen the real deal time and time again with other babies in our lives, and I’ve witnessed their parents doing a great job managing it.

What exactly is cradle cap?
Well, its fancy name is Seborrheic Dermatitis. Although this probably isn’t the way a pediatrician would describe it, it looks red and yellow and patchy and scaly. It’s typically found on the scalp, hence the nickname cradle cap, but it can also be found on the face or even between skin creases. Baby skin creases are the cutest things ever, so it’s sad to see it patchy and red. Although it doesn’t look comfortable, it interestingly doesn’t really seem to bother the little ones. Although I couldn’t find a definitive answer as to what exactly causes it, it seems likely to be a result of either excessive skin oil (sebum), a type of yeast found on the skin, or a combo of both.

How do I get rid of it?
Although cradle cap usually clears up within weeks or months, there are ways to send it along on its merry way. According to KidsHealth, these are some strategies to use:


Wash your little one’s hair with a mild shampoo once a day.

Over here, we love this gentle foaming shampoo from T is for Tame. It’s made with salicylic acid for natural exfoliation and organic calendula to soothe redness and irritation. (Fun fact: the creator is a friend of mine named Becky. She’s awesome.)

Gently remove scales with a soft brush. Many, many parents in our community use the ScrubBEE for this purpose. But it’s important not to scratch the area. Think of it more like using the gentle bristles to move the scales away. If the scales don’t loosen easily, you can also try using a small amount of mineral oil. Let it sink in for a few minutes to several hours, then try moving the scales away like mentioned above.

If it’s extremely persistent or you’re really worried about it, please ask your pediatrician for guidance before trying additional methods. I’m definitely not a doctor (barely passed high school biology!), so please consider the recommendations above just suggestions from a friend.