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Infant Hair Loss: Is My Baby Going Bald?

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD
Updated
Learn why baby hair loss happens, when it will come back, and why there's no reason to worry.

Are you starting to find small strands of precious baby hair here and there? Your baby may have been born with a head full of thick hair, but it doesn’t mean it will stay like that.

Infant hair loss is normal and happens to almost all babies at some point. But don’t worry, it doesn’t mean your baby will be bald forever.

In this article, we’ll discuss what could be causing your baby’s hair to fall out and what you can do about it.


Why Is My Baby Losing Hair?

Those first few months are exciting. Your baby changes a lot every day, and that includes their hair.

Baby hair loss often happens within the first six months. Some babies only lose a few strands at a time, while others might develop large bald spots. But don’t panic; your baby’s new locks should grow out again in no time.

Hair growth typically has two phases. One of growing and another period of resting, also called telogen effluvium.

While the hair is in the resting phase, it will stay put in the follicle. As the new hair starts to grow, it will push out the old, resulting in a few lost strands.

The growing phase can last around three years, and the resting is generally three months. However, anything between one and six months is normal.

Your baby will usually only lose a few strands at a time. But changes in the body can cause lots of hair to stop growing all at once (1). Let’s zoom in and try to get to the root of the hair loss problem.

1. Body Changes

Many women recall having beautiful, luscious locks during pregnancy. I loved mine! But we then get the nasty surprise of hair loss as soon as the baby is out of the womb.

The same thing happens to your little one. During pregnancy, hormone levels are high. Your baby will also have those highs, especially during the last few months.

However, right after birth, those hormone levels drop. This results in a few changes, one of which is a sudden stop to hair growth. Then, as the new phase starts, the old hair falls out.

This could happen anytime after the first month. Unfortunately, there is no way to avoid it.

As your baby gets a little older, they may begin pulling their hair. Some babies do this when they’re tired or upset. They might pull, tug or twirl small sections, resulting in bald patches.

A fungal infection could also be the culprit in your baby’s hair loss. You might notice a few red spots or even a ring, or the area may be red and flaky. Though harmless to your baby, fungal infections, such as ringworm, can be very contagious (2).

2. Alopecia Areata

Sometimes, the immune system attacks the hair follicles. It results in very smooth bald spots or patches. This is a condition known as alopecia areata.

The follicles will slow production down, making hair grow exceptionally slowly. The condition is most common in older children but can affect babies.

If you notice that your baby has very smooth bald patches, it would be best to contact a pediatrician. Alopecia areata will resolve itself in most cases.

Otherwise, your child’s pediatrician may prescribe an ointment or treatment to help the hair grow (3).

3. Cradle Cap

Have you noticed yellowish scales on your baby’s scalp? It’s probably cradle cap.

Cradle cap is usually caused by increased oil in the affected area. The scales might be flaky and falling off. As they fall out, you may notice a few strands of hair following.

Most often, cradle cap resolves itself within six months to a year. Severe cases might require treatment.

You can buy cradle cap shampoos that will soften the flakes and moisturize the skin, or you could use petroleum jelly or coconut oil to soften them up before a bath.

Never pick at the scales, even if it looks like they are about to fall off — just leave them. Picking can irritate the skin, making it red and causing inflammation (4).

4. Abnormal Symptoms

Closely monitor any changes in your baby’s body or behavior. Your baby’s hair loss is likely nothing serious, but it could indicate an underlying problem. Always contact your child’s pediatrician if you notice any significant changes.

If hair loss is sudden and severe or accompanied by any of the following signs, you may need to get your baby checked to rule out more severe conditions.

  • Red, flaky scales in the bald spots.
  • Baby is feeling sluggish.
  • Swelling around the face, along with cool, pale skin.

Medical Treatment

Most hair loss in babies is completely normal, and the hair will grow back within a few weeks or months without treatment.

If the cause is a fungal infection, your doctor might prescribe an anti-fungal ointment.

Your child’s pediatrician may also recommend a medicated shampoo that’s safe for your baby. A pathogen can cause hair loss on the scalp, and using such a shampoo is the best way to eliminate the infection.

Eczema can also cause hair loss. It’s prevalent in babies with dry skin. The rash will leave a red, itchy, and sometimes painful trail on your baby’s body, including the scalp.

A pediatrician will often prescribe a cream to help reduce the inflammation. A recommended treatment for eczema is to use an emollient cream or ointment after bathing to keep the skin and scalp moisturized (5).

Preventing Bald Spots

You may notice a hairless patch on your baby’s head. But don’t panic. Most of the time, these are caused by the area being rubbed against something.

A bald spot may appear if your baby spends too much time in one position. This typically shows on the back or sides of a baby’s head. If you notice a bald spot, try to adjust how your baby is lying.

1. Change Your Baby’s Position

Is your baby spending a lot of time in the same position? Whether it’s in their crib or a stroller, you might need to change things up. Maybe your little one loves to sleep on their left side, which has resulted in a flat (and slightly bald) spot.

Don’t be afraid to place your baby the opposite way in the crib. Since babies like to face outward, they typically lay with their head facing the light.

If such light is usually on their left side, try to lie them the other way, to gently “encourage” them to turn to the right. Your baby should do this naturally.

During car rides, your baby will likely be looking out the window beside them. This could cause them to spend a little too long in one position. Putting the car seat on the other side of the vehicle might fix the problem.

During the day, when you’re home, why not lay out a blanket in your living room, or garden? Place a few toys on the blanket and let your baby move around as much as possible. Remember to supervise your baby during this time.

2. Encourage Tummy Time

Tummy time is not only great for your little one’s strength, but it’s also the best way to avoid bald and flat spots. You can start practicing tummy time as soon as your baby is born.

Not so long ago, babies were put to sleep on their stomach, as my mother often reminds me. Although this position is no longer advisable for sleeping, it’s beneficial for babies while they’re awake.

Helping your baby strengthen their neck muscles will also help them reach other milestones. Movements like push-ups, rolling, crawling, and standing are based on your baby’s ability to lift their head.

However, you should never leave your baby in this position unsupervised. You should also avoid tummy time right after feeding or when your baby is tired or hungry (6).

Hair and Scalp Care

Just like you take care of your own hair, it’s important to care for your baby’s hair.

If your baby girl is born with thick locks, you may feel the urge to put in a few clips and bows. However, you might want to hold off for a little while.

Putting your daughter’s hair up in ponytails, although cute, can cause some damage. Avoid anything that consistently pulls the hair, like a tight headband. The hair, just like everything else, is still new and very sensitive.

Your baby’s hair also doesn’t need to be shampooed too often. A newborn might not even need shampoo until they’re a few weeks old.

Always use a mild baby shampoo when you wash your baby’s hair. Never rub the hair; just gently lather the shampoo and rinse front to back. Rubbing could damage or stress the follicles, leading to further hair loss.

If the hair is very dry but with no other symptoms, use a mild conditioner once a week. Rinse well and dry gently. Try to avoid any extra styling. Brush the hair gently using a soft brush.

Promote Healthy Hair Growth

Baby hair doesn’t need much attention. I love using coconut oil in my baby’s hair since it moisturizes from root to tip and is all natural. We do it once a week, which is more than enough.

If your little one has many curls, you might want to use a leave-in conditioner. It can be hard to comb out thick hair after a bath, not to mention painful for your child.

You can easily buy a leave-in conditioner. Or, if you’re a mom who likes to DIY everything, like me — you can make your own!

Here’s a recipe we love:

  • 1 ounce of coconut oil.
  • 2 ounces of aloe vera gel.
  • 1 teaspoon of avocado oil.
  • 1/3 cup water.

Shake up all ingredients in a spray bottle. Apply to damp hair, and you’re good! Remember to shake it well before use.

There are many amino acids and proteins in avocado, which promote a healthy scalp and follicle growth (7).

Fun Fact

In some cultures, moms use breast milk as a sort of leave-in conditioner in babies and children. It’s believed to soften the hair and even change the texture from coarse to soft. I would love to see a study on that!

Change of Appearance

It’s no surprise that your baby’s appearance is due to genetics. But you may wonder why your baby has dark hair while you and your partner are both blonds.

You might be astonished to see how much your baby’s hair will change during the first months. Not only can the color change, but so can the texture. Your baby could start with a fuzzy mohawk but end up with beautiful curls.

The pregnancy hormones running through you and your baby can cause your baby’s hair, along with other things, to change. But all of this will quickly shift as your baby’s body gets used to life outside the womb (8).

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The Last Strand

If you spot some hair loss in your bundle of joy — don’t panic. It’s completely normal. Most of the time, it will only be a minimal amount, and others probably won’t even notice it.

Some babies will lose significantly more in a short period, but even that shouldn’t ring alarm bells just yet. Keep an eye on your baby for any other changes, and don’t hesitate to call your pediatrician if in doubt.

You might want to snip off a lock of your baby’s hair as a keepsake. Before you know it, their tresses might look completely different.

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Headshot of Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett, MD

Dr. Pierrette Mimi Poinsett is a veteran licensed pediatrician with three decades of experience, including 19 years of direct patient clinical care. She currently serves as a medical consultant, where she works with multiple projects and clients in the area of pediatrics, with an emphasis on children and adolescents with special needs.