Cradle cap

You may notice patches of skin on your baby’s scalp (or forehead) that look thick, scaly and dry. This is common – especially in babies three weeks to 12 months old – and occurs as old skin cells collect on the scalp.

Cradle cap doesn’t hurt your baby and usually your child will outgrow it in a few weeks or months.

You can help remove the cradle cap by following these steps: 

  1. Gently massage a simple oil or moisturiser onto the cradle cap and leave it for a while. 
  2. Wash your baby’s head with mild baby shampoo and rinse well with warm water .
  3. Gently rub the area with the cradle cap lightly with a towel, your fingers, or a soft baby toothbrush to help to remove the old skin cells. 
  4. Repeat this process for several days until the cradle cap has gone. 

Gently brushing your child’s hair with a soft baby hairbrush is also a good way to remove cradle cap and keep it away. Often whānau (like grandparents) enjoy this activity with baby and love to brush their hair. 

Photo examples of cradle cap

DermNet NZ

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Authoritative information about the skin.

Your baby’s hair

Your baby’s hair will likely change after they're born. It’s normal for their hair to fall out, especially at the back of the head. Don’t worry, it will grow back over the next few months. 

When to visit a doctor

If the cradle cap becomes red and itchy, or persists for months, take your baby to see a doctor. Your doctor will check for an infection or may prescribe a special cream to help with any inflammation. 

You can always call PlunketLine if you need help or advice.

Need free support or advice?

Call PlunketLine 24/7 on 0800 933 922