Say Goodbye to Cradle Cap: Unlock the Power of Coconut Oil!

It sneaks up on you when you least expect it. One day your adorable newborn (or in my case the second time around, toddler) has this perfectly smooth, beautifully hydrated scalp that you love to nuzzle and the next day you find yellowish-looking scales underneath their few little hairs. Cradle cap has invaded your child’s scalp. Never fear, mama! We’re going to figure out how to deal with cradle cap using a magical substance you might already have in your home: coconut oil.

Understanding Cradle Cap

baby's head from the top

Cradle cap, or seborrheic dermatitis as it is technically known, is a condition in which scaly patches – that can be yellow or brown in appearance – appear on your baby’s scalp. While not the prettiest thing to look at (especially on your adorable new baby), cradle cap is not harmful but it can be concerning if you’ve never seen it before.

Newborn dry scalp is a common cause of cradle cap. Your baby’s skin is still developing and adapting to the outside world, and the scalp may become dry and flaky as a result. Hormones passed from mama during pregnancy can also contribute to cradle cap.

Cradle cap usually lasts for a few weeks to a few months, but it can persist for longer in some cases. Mamas, this does not – I repeat – DOES NOT mean that you did anything to cause this; cradle cap is not contagious and does not indicate poor hygiene.

Coconut Oil as a Treatment for Cradle Cap

One of the best natural treatments for cradle cap is coconut oil. Coconut oil is packed with antimicrobial properties that can help fight the woes that contribute to your little’s cradle cap. It’s also a natural moisturizer that can soothe and hydrate your baby’s irritated skin. Many parents – including myself – have had success in using coconut oil to treat cradle cap. This makes it an amazing option if you’re looking for a natural remedy!

How to Use Coconut Oil for Cradle Cap

When you have time to let the coconut oil sit for a while, gently massage it on the areas of flaky skin. Allow it to sit for at least 5 minutes before washing out. Alternatively, you can leave it in until baby’s next bath time. That’s it. Repeat this process regularly for the best results, especially if your little is a frequent flyer culprit like mine – sometimes I feel like it shows back up every few days. My littles both have eczema which is really common for cradle cap reoffenders. Their sensitive skin just needs some extra love.

Other Remedies and Treatments for Cradle Cap

back of baby's head

Certainly, if your child has frequently reoccurring cradle cap, talk to your pediatrician. It may be necessary to have some prescription-level cream on hand for the more serious and persistent outbreaks. Our tougher cases of cradle cap and eczema usually occur in the winter months when the house is ridiculously dry.

You can also try bathing your little less frequently; if you have nightly baths, try every-other-night. Alternatively, if you aren’t washing baby as frequently, step it up a notch. There is no hard-and-fast rule, every child is different and your approach might change for different times of the year. For example, my littles get baths every night during the summer due to being outside all the time. Frequent bathing washes the pollen and other allergens from outside off to lessen the change of skin irritation. During the winter months, I back off on bathing frequency due to having gas heat that severely dries out our skin.

Gentle, exfoliating scrubbers labeled specifically for children are a wonderful addition to your cradle cap treatment. Just use gentle, circular motions during bath time to help loosen up some of those scales! Lightly brushing or combing baby’s scalp also helps to loosen things up. Just remember, a little goes a long way with delicate baby skin so be extra easy with these tools.

Aveeno Baby Shampoo

My absolute favorite products for my cradle cap and eczema-prone littles is Aveeno Baby. We love the Aveeno Baby Daily Moisture Wash & Shampoo – it is a staple in our bathroom and has been the least offense to our gentle skin. All the eczema-specific lotions by Aveeno have helped tremendously as well. This mama loves the eczema lotion Aveeno makes for the adults too!

Cradle Cap Behind the Ears: Is Coconut Oil Effective?

Sometimes your little one will develop some flaky, scaly skin behind the ear. Typically, this is some form of eczema because – like we discussed earlier – eczema and persistent cradle cap often go hand-in-hand. Coconut oil is an excellent go-to for this situation too. Just like cradle cap, coconut oil is always my first line of defense and usually knocks it right on out.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that every child is different. These suggestions are a great place to start but, if cradle cap persists, there is no substitute for a consultation with your pediatrician for your individual child. Trust your instincts and go with what works best for your little. You know your baby better than anyone, mama, and you’ve got this!

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