How To Take Care Of Your Babies Sensitive Head
Hair expert Karen Shelton answers to many of the most common questions about hair care for babies and young children. Fetus through infant stage
By the sixth month in the womb, it is generally accepted by the medical and scientific community that all the hair follicles and related oil glands are formed on the growing fetus. It is very common for the fetus to have a very fine growth of hair on their heads. This growth has been spotted on sonograms taken at this point in the pregnancy. Sometimes at this point in development, hair will also be present on the shoulders and back as well. This is nothing to worry about. It is important to note that the fetus hair is often a different color than the color the hair will be later in life.
Downy hair covering at birth
Although some babies are born totally bald, most babies are born with a soft, downy head of hair that is frequently light in color. The down is very soft, almost like what you see on baby ducks. This newborn fuzz will usually only lasts for the first three or four months after birth.
The fuzzy newborn hair gradually falls out (for reasons that are generally unknown) and new hair grows in. The new hair is generally much fuller than the newborn hair and tends to grow in a set pattern.
Usually the hair that replaces the down is more along the lines of the texture and the eventual color that the baby - child will eventually have although not guaranteed. This is important to note because many people/parents are alarmed at the downy appearance of the hair. It does shed and it does change.
Because babies go through the first year of their life with little or no hair, they obviously do not require much hair care. Yes it is true that sometimes babies are born with no hair at all. This is not all that uncommon so if your baby has no hair, don't panic.
The myth of baby head shaving
A common myth is that is you shave your baby's head to remove the down that the baby's hair will grow in a lot thicker or even a different texture. This is a myth with absolutely no scientific proof. The reason that this all started was because when people do get their hair cut it just seems to be thicker. In reality, it is not. It just appears that way. This has been a pervading myth for a long time, and has been debunked over and over. While cutting hair removes dead or split ends and allows the hair to look healthier and less scraggly, it does not help it grow faster and/or thicker.
Baby hair care: Slow, easy and gentle
The care of baby hair is relatively simple. Depending on how much hair they have, babies may only require shampooing or an irregular basis. Shampooing can be done on an "as needed" basis, and does not have to be done every day.
The key thing to remember when caring for the hair of a newborn is to be very gentle. Avoid putting pressure on the soft spot on the top of the baby's head. Most babies and even some children up to the age of 4 or 5 is sensitive to any kind of pressure on their scalp. When washing the hair and the scalp of a baby or young child, be sure to go very slow and easy. Make sure that there are no tangles in the hair before washing it.
Avoid unnecessary tangling
The care of baby hair is relatively simple. Babies generally only require a regular shampooing. This can be done on an "as needed basis" and does not have to be done every day. Make sure that the hair is kept neatly trimmed to keep it out of the baby's or young child's eyes and ears and to prevent any unnecessary tangling. You can either trim the baby's hair at home yourself or have a professional trim it. Most people opt to trim a baby's hair themselves the first year or so.
Pros and cons of baby shampoos
A lot of baby doctors recommend the use of a special baby shampoo during the first years of an infant's life. Baby shampoos generally don't contain the sulfates that are used in most adult hair care products.
One relatively unknown danger from traditional baby shampoo is the pH balance. While baby shampoos formulated specifically for babies are less prone to stinging if they get into the eyes, when they contain a high pH (which many do), they may cause unnecessary tangling of the baby's hair.
Whether you use a special baby shampoo or some other type of mild shampoo, it is important that they contain a balanced pH. This means a pH factor that falls in the 4.5 - 6 range. Many shampoos will list the pH on the bottle. If you are in doubt, you can use Nitrazine paper (available at any drugstore) to test the actual pH levels.
As babies get older, they may have a tendency to experience hair damage from hair tangling. Strong shampoos with a high pH (7.0 or over) is more likely to cause hair tangling in babies and younger children.
The Recline Method of shampooing used by pros
From infancy until the age of four to six is best to use the recline method of shampooing. The recline method can be accomplished a number of ways. For a baby, it is usually best to wash their hair while giving them their baths.
For older children you may wish to wash their hair in the sink. Here's how: Arrange the child or baby so that they are on their back with their head facing the ceiling (this can be accomplished at home by using a high chair or stool in front of a sink). You can also cradle a baby or child in your arms in the bathtub. The recline method is used at professional salons and at barber shops, and guarantees against shampoo making its way to the baby or child's eyes. If you wash a child's hair in the sink, be sure to drape a towel around the child's neck to protect against suds and water. Also be sure to use warm, not hot, water.
Making shampooing special
Many babies and young children hate to have their hair washed. It is important to teach children at a very early age the importance of hair and scalp cleanliness. This can be accomplished easily by making the shampooing a special ritual that becomes a special treat for the child.
If you teach your baby or child that having their hair washed is an enjoyable treat or special time with mom or dad, it will easily instill in them the value of good hair care for the rest of their lives.