New Parent Newborn Guide

cradle cap

Contending with cradle cap
These patchy, flaky scales on your baby’s scalp may look alarming, but there’s really nothing to worry about. Cradle cap doesn’t generally need medical treatment because it clears up on its own in a few months. In the meantime, you can wash and gently brush your baby’s scalp daily to help loosen the scales. If the scales don’t loosen easily, rub petroleum jelly or a few drops of baby oil into the scalp, and let it soak for a few minutes. Then shampoo and brush as you usually do. Just don’t leave the oil or jelly in the hair because it may worsen the cradle cap. “A new layer of skin is growing faster than the old skin can fall off,” explains Alan Greene, MD, whose latest book is Feeding Baby Green (Jossey-Bass, 2009; see page TK for a review). “Cradle cap is not a disease—it’s healthy skin!” Greene doesn’t recommend using cortisone or other medicated creams, since they can slow down scalp growth. Contact your pediatrician if the patches of flaky skin spread to the baby’s body or face.