Can shaving your baby’s hair make it grow back thicker and healthier? Some parents choose to shave their baby’s head at a very early age. What are the real reasons? Culture, religion, or just the supposed benefits?
Most babies might not even have much to shave, but let’s look at the reasons it’s done and the facts you need to know before you decide whether or not to embark on the mission.
Will My Baby’s Hair Change After Shaving?
Let’s get straight into it. The short answer is “No.” Your baby’s hair will not necessarily become thicker or healthier from shaving (1).
After you shave the hairs on your upper lip, does it grow back as a full-blown mustache? Nope.
So, how does hair growth work anyway?
How Hair Grows
Our genetics, and the actual hair follicles play a large role in determining our hair type. The follicles are located directly underneath the skin, where the hair is produced.
The root of the follicle is made of protein cells. These cells are created and fed by blood, which carries nutrients that the cells need to grow and multiply.
As the cells multiply, the hair grows and pushes out of the follicle through the skin. The strand also passes through an oil gland — this makes the strands shiny and soft. In babies, this oil can also cause cradle cap.
Individual strands of hair will go through two phases: one is a growing phase and the other is a resting phase. These vary in their timing, which is why overall hair growth fluctuates (2).
Why Shave Your Baby’s Hair?
It’s a common cultural practice in parts of Asia and in some Latin American countries to shave a baby’s hair right after birth or in the first few months of life. Some people do it for religious reasons, as in the Hindu Mundan ritual. Others believe that their baby’s hair will grow back in thicker and quicker, but this isn’t always the case.
When babies are born, their hair is typically thin and light — even if your peanut has a full head of it. These baby locks change into “mature” hair during the first year.
When you shave your baby’s head, this removes the baby hair, and the “mature” locks will start to appear earlier than they may have if left to Mother Nature.
In doing so, and depending on the follicles, there is a chance the hair will come in thicker, but it’s not a given and it would have happened anyway, without shaving.
My Baby Has Cradle Cap, Will Shaving Help?
Shaving your baby’s head will not cure cradle cap. Cradle cap is a skin condition that actually has little to do with the hair itself.
In fact, shaving the hair while baby has cradle cap could irritate the skin and worsen the condition.
It’s also extremely important to avoid picking at the scales on your baby’s scalp, no matter how tempting it may be. This may cause them further discomfort and trigger an infection.
Try these methods instead:
- Shampoo regularly and with a special shampoo.
- Use oil or petroleum jelly to soften the scales before a bath.
- Following a bath, use a soft baby brush to gently remove loose scales (4).
Could Shaving Be Harmful?
Before your baby is even born, you might learn, or already know, about their “soft spots.” The soft spots on a baby’s head are what allow the head to easily descend into the pelvis and through the birth canal during labor.
The fontanelle, as it’s officially named, also helps make room for your baby’s brain to grow and develop outside the womb. There are two areas, the posterior, which is in the back, and the anterior, in the front (5). It has been suggested that shaving over these spots could damage your baby’s head, but that is not true, so don’t worry. You should always be careful around the soft spots anyway, and this is no different.
One thing that could potentially harm your child is the tool you’re using. Some people, more for cultural reasons, choose to use razors. However, babies have a tendency to move suddenly, and the blades can easily cut your baby’s super soft skin.
How to Safely Shave Your Baby’s Hair
Deciding to shave your baby’s hair is a big decision. But, with the right tools and precautions, there should be no cause for concern.
What you need is:
1. Timing is Everything
Try to figure out what time of day your baby is the happiest and most calm. Mornings might be a good option since your baby (and you) will, hopefully, be well rested.
Place a small towel on the floor around you while your partner holds the baby. You might want to use a few toys for distraction.
2. Get out the Trimmer
As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to steer clear of razor blades. Instead, you could use a trimmer. These typically don’t shave as close to the skin as a razor would, but they are also a much safer option.
Dampen the hair slightly before starting. Beginning at the back of the head, shave from the nape of the neck upward, cutting against the hair’s natural direction. Shave the top of the head from front to back.
If your baby becomes upset, take a break and create a distraction with toys — or food — before continuing.
3. Remove All Loose Hair
There might be a significant amount of loose hair stuck to your baby after the job is complete. Finishing off with a warm bath is an excellent way to make sure all the hair is removed.
4. Keep the Scalp Happy
When you’re all done, massage the area with moisturizer or a minimal amount of baby oil, to stop the skin feeling dry or itchy (6).
Prepare for change
When Will Baby’s Hair Grow Again?
This depends on the follicles but, typically, you would start to see new hair within a month. Patience could come in handy here, and the more you watch, the longer it will take.
Other Ways to Promote Healthy Hair Growth
If your only reason to shave your baby’s head is the hope of thicker, healthier hair regrowth, you may want to consider other, less drastic, methods. There are plenty of ways to encourage those lovely locks to grow strong. Here are a few:
1. Use a Moisturizing Shampoo
Your baby may not have a lot of hair, but that doesn’t mean you should skip the shampoo. A moisturizing shampoo will hydrate the scalp and help to remove any extra oil that could cause cradle cap or dandruff.
However, this should only be necessary once or twice a week (7).
2. Consider a Soft Brush
The best thing I ever got for my baby’s hair was a super soft brush. It made the hair silky smooth, and it’s a no-fuss tool. After every bath, gently brush your baby’s hair to get rid of any tangles. This could also help to remove potential scales.
3. Be Gentle
When you’re handling your baby’s hair, always be gentle to protect the hair follicles from stress or damage. Always lather shampoo gently, never rub hard.
4. Say “No” to Ponytails
As your little one grows, you may feel inclined to style their hair. While it’s cute (as a mom, I know the temptation), you might want to hold off a little longer.
Extended pulling on the hair can damage the follicles. If your baby has long hair and it’s starting to get in the way of their eyes, trim it. Or you can loosely pin it back, using a small clip, to keep it away from their face.
5. Always a Healthy Diet
Good nutrition helps every part of your baby grow, not just the hair. Make sure to give the best quality food possible to your baby, once they are old enough to start taking solids. You should always avoid highly processed, sugary foods in favor of fruits and vegetables to pack those nutrients in and give your little one the best chance for overall good health.
Keep Growing and Going
Ultimately, it’s your choice whether or not you want to shave your baby’s head. Some people genuinely believe the hair will get thicker and healthier — maybe it does, maybe not. We have provided the facts, and hopefully, it will help you in making a decision.
Are you considering shaving your baby’s head? What do you think will happen? Did you already make the cut? Share your experiences and comments below.