Living and Loving
4 minute read
25 Jun 2020
10:00 am

How parents can get rid of cradle cap

Living and Loving

Here are some useful tips for new moms.


As with all things parenting-related, there’s an overflow of tips and tricks for curing cradle cap. But, we’ve narrowed it down to a handful of remedies that get the green light from veteran mommies and paediatricians.

Find natural remedies in your pantry for cradle cap

Coconut oil has become a hero ingredient, and not only in the kitchen. Just throw a big dollop into the bath water each night when bathing your baby – it melts in the water. It keeps winter dryness at bay far better than any fancy creams, lotions and potions. And as it turns out, it’s also a miracle cure for cradle cap.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Before bath time, massage a generous amount of coconut oil into your baby’s head.
  2. Wait 45 minutes, so the coconut oil can soften the scaly cradle cap.
  3. Then you need to gently (but thoroughly) rub/brush/comb the affected areas to remove the softened scale (see my recommendations on what to use below).
  4. Rinse the hair and wash as usual.
  5. Rub/brush/comb again.
  6. Repeat for a few nights.

Tip: Be sure to wash the oil away each time. Too much oil may cause scales to build up and make the cradle cap worse.

Brown sugar mixed with some coconut oil will act as a gentle exfoliant. Don’t rub it on your baby’s scalp too hard – just work it gently into the affected area. Continue with the steps above.

Another natural remedy is to make a paste using bicarbonate of soda and water. Rub on to your baby’s hair, wait a couple of minutes, comb and then rinse off.

Use a soft toothbrush to gently lift the scales

You need to use something that will lift or exfoliate the scales, without being too harsh on your baby’s soft scalp. Many moms use a baby brush or comb, but you may find that these ideas are more effective:

  • Use a baby toothbrush that has very soft bristles. Rub your baby’s scalp in small circular movements (as if brushing teeth).
  • Try a nail or face brush made from natural bristles.
  • Many moms swear by using a lice comb rather than a regular comb.
  • You could also use a soft face cloth to rub the affected area.

Ditch the baby shampoo for an anti-dandruff shampoo

  • There are a lot of contradictory opinions when it comes to the shampoo you should be using to treat your baby’s cradle cap. The decision depends on the severity of your baby’s cradle cap.
  • For moms who’ve tried various baby shampoos without success, try an anti-dandruff shampoo, such as Head & Shoulders or Denorex (the regular adult versions). While you may be reluctant to try this because it’s not baby friendly, the advice from moms and doctors seems unanimous. It will work – and it’s safe to use. Just be sure to avoid your baby’s eyes, because it will burn really badly.
  • Dilute the shampoo with water and use it two to three times per week. Apply with a baby toothbrush and work it into the scalp. Then rinse well.

If all else fails…

If the natural remedies aren’t working, then it’s time to use cradle cap-specific baby products. One range that stands out for me is Mustela, a French brand specialising in baby care. I love this range because it doesn’t contain any parabens, perfume or colourants.

Gently massage Mustela Stelaker Cradle Cap treatment cream into the scalp before bedtime and leave overnight. In the morning, use the Mustela Foam Shampoo for Newborns to remove any residue. Repeat for 15 days. Mustela can be ordered online from here.

If all else fails, your paediatrician can prescribe a topical cream to get your baby’s scalp silky smooth.

A final tip: When treating cradle cap, always use clean water to rinse your baby’s hair instead of the dirty, soapy bath water.

Got a tip we didn’t include? Share your tips in the comments section on the Living and Loving Facebook page.

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