My babies were both born with the hair on their head more prominent than any of their other features. I had seen a lot of baby hair wash commercials of babies smiling and cooing in the bath tub, surrounded by bubbles with a cap of cloud-like lather on their angelic heads (interestingly, these babies had almost bald heads). While I always wanted to be a ‘hands on’ and ‘practical’ mom, I wanted to have such fun times with my children as well.
I tried to put myself in my baby’s shoes, as they say, prior to subjecting them to any ‘treatments’. So, when my baby had an explosive poo at 4 weeks, which managed to miraculously coat his hair too, it took me 5 secs to decide that he needed his hair washed, along with the rest of his body!
I tested a popular brand shampoo, but the results on my hands were similar to what I saw when I washed utensils – my skin started to peel off. I shuddered to think of the effect on my little one’s tender scalp.
Questions then started to pour into my head on what was safe and what wasn’t for my baby. Here is what I discovered through my research and experience:
- When your baby comes into this world, their hair is coated with the amniotic fluid in the fetus. Most children start to shed hair on their head and body (don’t be alarmed if yours doesn’t, mine didn’t!).
- Generally, till the umbilical cord falls off, (around 10 days), traditionally the baby is not bathed. However, your hospital will clean the baby up thoroughly before handing over to you.
- Your infant’s scalp is very tender and thin as compared to a grown person’s skin and can get affected by even the mildest of harmful chemicals.
- Start washing the baby’s hair only after the baby has turned at least one month. Till then, try using a damp towel and clean it down.
- Your baby’s hair is subjected to oil, milk or regurgitated milk (and sometimes, pee & poo like mine was!), and you will want to wash the hair with something a bit more than just water.
- I was very surprised with the size of the baby – I thought he would be bigger (blame Bollywood that shows such large babies as new borns!). So it took me a while to get used to handling the tiny delicate bundle, and supporting all the important places of the baby while tending to him. So it would be wise to have least slippery areas, and places where you are sure you won’t drop the baby, or cause it any physical harm.
- The baby has 2 soft spots on its head – called Fontanelles. Your baby’s head is made up of soft bones and tissue. The fontanelles are gaps in the bones which allow the head to compress and ease out of the birth canal. This fuses as the child grows up and takes anything between 9 to 18 months. While washing your baby’s hair, take utmost care to not apply any pressure on the scalp, especially the fontanelles areas.
- I personally found that massaging my baby regularly, and oiling the hair at least twice a week helped reduce my baby’s irritation. I left the oil in the hair for not more than 30 minutes, while I massaged the rest of the body. This was because I noticed my baby would catch a cold if I let the oil on for any longer, or did not wash off the oil properly.
- Definitely no vigorous massage or excessive hot water – since these will leave their scalp dry, irritated and have your baby running away from you. It will also result in hair with a lot of tangles and broken ends. Instead, let the massage be gentle and light.
My babies generally slept very well after the hair massage and bath, while I enjoyed these extra minutes of ‘me’ time. So go ahead and gear yourself up to bathe your child. Don’t forget to read what your options are to wash your baby’s hair in the next article.