Cradle cap may sound like some funky term for a cute sleeping hat for tiny babies, but the reality is far less adorable. Potentially caused by hormones passed from mom to newborn, excess oil, fungus or bacteria, cradle cap causes crusty or oily scaly patches on a baby’s scalp, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition isn’t painful or itchy, but the thick white or yellow scales are unsightly, and can be difficult to remove. So while cradle cap usually clears up on its own in a few weeks or months, parents often want to expedite the process with home care measures like washing with a baby shampoo specially designed to remove and prevent cradle cap.
Shampooing your baby’s hair or head with a cradle cap shampoo can help you loosen or remove the scales. Using a soft-bristled brush during shampooing can help loosen them, too — but don’t pick! Trying to scratch or scrape those scales is not recommended. The best cradle cap shampoos for baby are gentle and moisturizing, and many foam while massaged into the scalp to assist with the removal of scales.
We’ve rounded up the best cradle cap shampoos for babies’ flaky heads. Check out the formulas below to find the best one for your baby and banish that cradle cap for good.
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1. Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns
Mustela’s gentle Foam Shampoo for Newborns is specially formulated to cleanse your baby’s hair and gently exfoliate and rinse away cradle cap flakes, meaning your little one will experience fewer flakes and scales with each bath. The shampoo contains BHA and Salicylic Acid, which both help to effectively prevent and reduce cradle cap, and is also formulated with 99% plant-based natural ingredients, including Avocado Perseose, a patented natural ingredient that helps protect and hydrate your baby’s delicate scalp, and Climbazole, which works to prevent cradle cap from recurring. Plus, Mustela’s tear-free formula and pump dispenser guarantee easy and comfortable application.
2. Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Baby Shampoo
Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Shampoo is specially formulated to remedy cradle cap, soothing baby’s itchy flakey head. Made with all natural ingredients like oatmeal, vitamin E, organic shea butter and aloe vera, the shampoo is hypoallergenic and paraben-free with a light, fresh scent. Pharmaceutical grade tea tree oil helps to unclog hair follicles and nourish the roots, while the amino acids glycine, proline, hydroxyproline, and arginine combine in a specific triple-helix pattern to form the building blocks of skin. The shampoo also includes flower extracts, such as lavender, chamomile and marigold, which can improve blood circulation, promote hair growth, reduce inflammation and help to clear the flakes of cradle cap. Just massage the Bella B shampoo into baby’s wet hair until it foams and then rinse.
3. Hip Peas Cradle Cap Care
Gentle and effective, Cradle Cap Care from Hip Peas boasts a formula made with a proprietary blend of essential oils; it adheres to flakes for easier removal with a gentle brush, and moisturizes as it clears up the flakes. It’s free from artificial colors, fragrances, paragons, sulfates, phthalates and petrochemicals, so you can feel good about using it on your delicate baby’s scalp. Another reason to feel good: 10% of all of Hip Peas profits go to child-focused charities.
4. T is for Tame Cradle Cap Gentle Foaming Shampoo
This Gentle Foaming Shampoo for babies and toddlers from T is for Tame is scientifically formulated to cleanse baby’s hair and scalp while softening and rinsing away the scaly flakes associated with cradle cap. The formula contains coconut oil, natural exfoliants and rice extract, which helps to prevent and reduce cradle cap. Plus, organic calendula soothes redness and irritation associated with common skin and scalp conditions. Just pump the Gentle Foaming Shampoo onto baby’s scalp and gently rub until it lathers, then brush scalp with a soft bristle or silicone brush — after three days of use, your baby’s cradle cap should be reduced.
5. Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo for Children
There’s nothing worse than seeing your baby uncomfortable, but this fragrance-free cradle cap shampoo is sure to make your baby’s head happy. It can help reduce flaking, redness, itching, scaling and irritation in 1-2 weeks. Babies and kids with thicker scale build-up will typically see an improvement in 2-3 weeks.