mom holding her baby's head in a delicate way

Dry scalps are a very common occurrence in newborns and youngsters. There is a difference between dry scalp and cradle cap so in the following I will explore the differences and how to treat dry scalp in babies.

What Exactly is Cradle Cap?

As most babies have very little hair, the presence of a dry scalp or cradle cap becomes very obvious. Cradle cap is technically known asĀ Seborrheic dermatitis which in adults would be referred to as dandruff.

Does my Baby Have Cradle Cap or Dry Scalp?

Cradle cap is the result of an oily scalp whereas dry scalp is exactly that – dry skin. Cradle cap appears much different. Cradle cap to me, looks like white and yellow colored scales which can also affect the ears of your little one too.

Treating Cradle Cap

Cradle cap will eventually sort itself out and is not a result of bad hygiene at all. There are ways to speed up the process including using a special shampoo.

Roughly 1 hour before washing you can cover your little ones scalp in an oil to soften, loosen and lift the ‘scales’. I used coconut oil but you can use olive oil or vegetable oil and I believe petroleum jelly too.

After washing with a mild shampoo you can use a small, soft brush to lightly brush over their scalp.

Treating Baby Dry Scalp

Treating a dry scalp is a relatively simple process and requires only a few tools. Gently massage a few drops of your preferred oil such as olive oil or coconut oil onto your infants scalp.

Once the oil has been on their scalp for about 20 minutes you can then use a gentle, baby brush and make circular motions over their scalp. This will help to lift any flaky or dead skin.

Finally you should use a very mild baby shampoo, leave it on your baby’s head for a little while giving it to opportunity to wash the oil out.

Make sure you rinse the scalp thoroughly as shampoo can cause irritations too.

How to Prevent Dry Scalp

To prevent cradle cap I always use an oil as a moisturizer for my little one, as mentioned earlier I prefer coconut oil but any olive or vegetable oil works as well.

Humidifiers are also a way to keep the moisture in the air at an optimal level and not dry out your little ones skin.

Have you considering changing your baby’s formula. There are a few hypoallergenic formulas that can reduce the symptoms of your little ones dry scalp.

If you are breast feeding, consider increasing your intake of omega 3 oil, this is great for skin and keeping it mositurized.

If you are using formula you can actually Omega 3 oil to the formula. Before doing this I highly recommend consulting with your doctor.


It is important to distinguish between cradle cap and dry scalp although he treatment is more or less the same. For babies that suffer from a dry scalp, once you have cleared the flaky, dry skin simply moisturize regularly with an oil to prevent it returning.


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