Caring for your new baby will probably hold surprises, but one situation you can prepare for is hair loss. Whether she starts with a full head of hair or just a bit of fuzz, she might lose some or all of it after birth. Knowing the common causes and how to handle special situations will make this stage of development easier to understand and manage.
Infant hair loss -- also called telogen -- is a natural part of the growth and development of many babies, thanks to the sudden drop-off in pregnancy hormone levels following birth, according to WhatToExpect.com’s Heidi Murkoff. Because your baby’s hair, like your hair, is continually passing through growth and resting stages, your baby’s new hair growth might lag behind as her newborn tresses fall out quickly, leaving her with little or no hair. This completely normal stage of development can last for as long as six months, according to Dr. William Sears, but eventually your baby’s hair growth will catch up and her permanent hair will fill in.
Your baby’s hair loss might look patchy, in which case it could be caused by the position in which he sleeps or sits. According to Dr. Sears, it’s common for the back of a baby’s head to develop a bald patch, as the American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that infants always sleep on their backs to decrease the possibility of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Additionally, BabyCenter.com mentions that your baby may rub his head against his mattress or against his car seat if he sits with his head resting on the same spot. All of these situations are normal, and your baby’s hair will grow back when he is able to move into a new position on his own around six months of age, according to Dr. Sears.
Dr. Alan Greene on Parents.com lists possible medical causes of hair loss in infants, including inflammation of the scalp from cradle cap or skin infections. In more rare instances, all-over hair loss can be triggered by autoimmune disorders. WhatToExpect.com also mentions the possibility of a fungal infection commonly known as ringworm; signs include bald spots with flaky, red scaling on your baby’s head. If you are concerned about your baby’s hair loss, or if her hair or scalp does not look normal, discuss it with your pediatrician.
According to Murkoff, there are a few things you can do to help prevent further hair loss or breakage: gently wash your baby’s hair once or twice a week and use a baby brush or wide-tooth comb to avoid pulling on tangles. While most newborns don't have enough hair to fit into a ponytail holder, if you are blessed with Rapunzel's sister, don’t use ponytail holders too tightly. BabyCenter.com also suggests giving your baby plenty of supervised tummy time to give the hair on the back of her head a break. You can also alternate the end of the crib her head is near when you place her on her back for sleep, in order to take advantage of her natural tendency to face a specific side of the crib.