You’ve probably heard of cradle cap, but when it comes to your own little one, dealing with this skin occurrence can seem like a daunting task.  Cradle cap is a scaly rash on the scalp that starts in newborns, usually beginning in the first 2-6 weeks of life. It often appears as patches of white or yellow scales attached to baby’s scalp that can be both greasy or dry. 

The exact cause of cradle cap is not known.  Some doctors believe it has to do with mom’s hormonal changes during pregnancy that stimulate the infant’s oil glands, causing scales and redness in baby’s skin. Dead skin cells usually fall off but this excess oil causes it to “stick” to baby’s scalp. 

Not to worry though – cradle cap often looks worse than it is. It’s not itchy or painful for your little one and often goes away without having to seek medical treatment. You can treat it right at home with a cradle cap brush, and by using a small amount of oil such as coconut oil, olive oil, mineral oil, or petroleum jelly. 

So, what should you do if your baby has cradle cap? First and foremost, if your baby has cradle cap, do not pick. Picking and scratching can actually irritate your baby’s skin and risk causing an infection. Here’s what you should do if your baby has cradle cap: 

  • Wash often.  Use a mild baby shampoo to wash baby’s hair perhaps a bit more frequently - you can even wash it every day. 
  • Try oil. If the scaling is thick or the scales don’t loosen easily after shampooing, try applying a few drops of gentle, natural oil. Let it sit for a few minutes or a few hours before shampooing. 
  • Give it time. Cradle cap usually goes away on its own and doesn’t require medical treatment. 
  • Gently loosen scales with a cradle cap brush. Use a soft-bristled brush or wash cloth to gently loosen the scales on baby’s head. Try doing this after washing baby’s hair.

Make sure to check with your baby’s healthcare provider if the cradle cap is severe or not improving. 

As we mentioned above, gently loosening scales can help get rid of cradle cap. A soft-bristle brush, silicone comb, or other type of brush works best as a cradle cap brush. Here, we’ve rounded up 12 of our favorites. 

Cradle Cap Brushes: 
Baby Scrubbies, $6.99
Pourty Potty Massage Brush, $18.18
Haaka, Silicone Shampoo Brush, $10.93
Scalp Scrubbie Brush (3-Pack), $8.99
ScrubBEE Silicone Scrubber, $9.99
Denpetec Baby Bath Silicone Brush, $4.79
Silicone Massage Brush (3-Pack), $3.99
DermaFrida The SkinSoother Brush, $8.99
DermaFrida The FlakeFixer 3-Step System, $14.88
Safety 1st Brush, $4.99
Baby K Baby Brush, $4.99
Green Sprouts Natural Wood Baby Brush, $9.84

For more baby care tips, including diaper hacks, bathing, and beyond, be sure to check out our baby care classes. Our expert, Labor and Delivery Nurse and Baby Care expert Ashley Sousa, will give you all the tips other parents wish they knew before baby arrived.