Some children are born with a full head of thick locks, but others retain a sleek, bald scalp well into their toddler years. In most cases, toddlers with little or no hair are perfectly healthy, but persistent baldness may be a sign of an underlying medical condition. A qualified health care provider should evaluate any toddler who is experiencing persistent hair loss or no hair growth. If the pediatrician suspects that a medical condition is responsible, the child may be referred to a specialist for further evaluation.
Some toddlers are genetically predisposed to slow hair growth. Dr. Bud Zukow, author of "Baby: An Owner's Manual," reports that Caucasian babies are particularly prone to prolonged baldness. Many babies of European descent will have little or no hair until age two or later.
Infant Hair Loss
Dr. Alan Greene notes on DrGreene.com that most children will have two "crops" of hair during infancy. In some children, the second crop may not arrive until early toddlerhood.
According to HairLossTalk.com, the website of a support group for people suffering from significant hair loss or failed hair growth, fungal infections may cause hair loss in children. Tinea capitis, a form of ringworm, can cause a toddler to lose much of the hair on the back of her scalp. Severe cases of seborrhea, or cradle cap, can also contribute to hair loss in toddlers.
This autoimmune disorder causes children to lose circular patches of hair on the scalp; it ultimately leads to total baldness. Children with alopecia areata may begin displaying symptoms during infancy or toddlerhood. Alopecia areata is untreatable, but hair may regrow within one year. Children with this rare condition generally wear wigs to obscure baldness.
HairLossTalk.com reports that traction alopecia is a very common cause of hair loss in toddlers, particularly girls. Frequent styling can cause a toddler's hair to fall out, leading to baldness and poor hair growth. Parents should avoid styling or brushing a toddler's hair frequently.
Dr. Alan Greene notes that severe nutritional deficiencies can sometimes cause baldness or poor hair growth in babies and toddlers. Severe cases of iron, zinc and protein deficiency may be responsible for baldness in toddlers, but these problems are rare in the developed world.