As you’ve discovered, not all newborns are born bald but arrive on the scene with a shock of thick hair. While some of these babies come out with perfectly coiffed locks, the rest look like they’re having a bad hair day, with a punk-style Mohawk, or tufted patches. No one really knows why some babies are born with lots of hair, though experts believe it probably has something to do with maternal hormones and the genetic lottery.
Whatever your baby’s hairstyle is, don’t worry too much (or get too attached). Newborn dos are hair today, gone tomorrow. Here’s what you need to know about your newborn’s hair:
Newborn hair loss
If you were surprised by your baby’s massive mane, just wait… All that hair may disappear. Newborns shed like a golden retriever in the first six months (and some can go from luxuriantly coiffed to bald as a cue ball). That’s because all those pregnancy hormones (the ones that may have given you great hair, too!) plummet after birth, so your baby’s hair stops growing. Then a phase called “telogen” kicks in, when lots of the hair falls out altogether.
Newborn hair growth
Luckily, the telogen phase is usually followed rather quickly (or even simultaneously) by new hair growth. But the baby hair that grows in may be nothing like your little one’s newborn locks. Color and texture often change again, thanks to hormones, so your baby’s thick, dark hair could make its reappearance a lot sparser and lighter. Red can give way to blonde. Curly goes straight. You never know. Eventually your baby’s hair will grow in and she’ll look less like a punk rocker and more like the coiffed baby of your dreams. Exactly when that happens can be anyone’s guess (it’s different for every child). Some get a great new head of hair by six months, some not for two or three years.
Until then, here’s how to take care of whatever hair your baby does have:
- Don’t wash your baby’s hair every day. Particularly with newborns, there’s just no need. Aim for a quick shampoo when you bathe your baby, which doesn’t need to be more often than a couple times a week.
- Be gentle when you massage a tearless baby shampoo into your baby’s scalp. A too-brisk scalp massage can stress hair follicles and speed up hair loss or breakage.
- Comb your baby’s hair with a soft-bristle brush or a wide-toothed comb that won’t snag on tangles or pull your baby’s hair.
- Avoid headbands or ponytails that pull your baby’s hair back too tightly, which can damage it.
- If your baby needs a quick trim later to look presentable, go for it. Just do it when she’s well rested and fed, so she’ll be less cranky, and set her up with some toys to distract her.
When you really think about it, a child’s first day of beauty consists of only a few minutes under the scissors. A snip here and a snip there, and voila!
Doesn’t seem like that big a deal, but if you’re a parent then you know how tricky that baby’s first haircut can be.
Here are a few tips to keep your baby smiling instead of crying:
- Call in advance to see which stylist is good with children.
- Visit the salon with your baby before the haircut appointment ,so the child knows what to expect. Or, bring the baby in for a parent’s haircut so the child knows it’s a friendly place.
- On haircut day, come prepared. Bring snacks or special treats like a lollipop or a book – something to keep them occupied – as well as a change of clothes in case hair gets on the clothing.
- Depending on your child’s age either be close by or have your baby on your lap.
- Spend time introducing the hairstylist to your child. It is also a good idea to show them the comb, spray bottle and cape to ease them into the process. You never know what may upset your child. It is also a good idea for the hairstylist not to spray the hair of the child directly, but the comb instead.
- Consider asking the stylist for a leave-in conditioner to start the haircut. It is a plus because it makes it much easier to comb the hair out.
You can tell that it’s time for the baby’s first cut if the hair is fuzzy or getting in their eyes or getting frayed on the ends. In general, there is no “right” time or age for children to get their first haircut. Just check if the hair is in the eyes or bothering them on the back of the neck.
As for the best style for your child, here are some suggestions:
- Flip through parents’ magazines to get an idea of what they want and what they don’t want.
- Be realistic. A boy with curly hair can’t have a side part and hair combed to the side.
- Listen to the stylist. You are not going to style your kid’s hair every morning, so a wash-and-go cut is the best way to go.
And here are a few last tips:
- Kids don’t need to have their hair washed every day. Twice a week is sufficient, unless they’re really dirty and have paint or glue or something in their hair.
- Tear-free shampoo is the way to go. Also, use a detangler.