Why Is My Infant's Hair Falling Out?

Baby peeking out of crib

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Some babies are born with full heads of hair. Others have a smattering of strands and many have only peach fuzz. However full or sparse your newborn's hair is, you might notice it falling out or getting thinner in the weeks after you bring them home. This shedding may come as a surprise (and even a bummer if you'd begun to envision fun hairstyles). But there's no reason to worry.

Here's the thing: Infant hair loss is completely common. Things like natural hormonal shifts and even common sleeping positions can contribute to baby hair loss. Learn more about why this may be happening, when their hair will grow back, and how you can keep your baby's hair as healthy as possible as they grow.

Hair Loss in Babies

Infant hair loss is not only common, it's a normal phase of early physical development. Some babies lose just a little bit of hair while others shed nearly every strand. Your baby may lose hair faster than others, making the shedding more noticeable. There's little cause for concern when it comes to any hair loss within the first 6 months of life.

"Many newborns have their hair fall out during the first few months of life, peaking at about 3 months," says Samantha Ball, DO, a pediatrics specialist in Dacula, GA. "The good news is that it typically does not affect the hair follicles themselves, meaning it will grow back."

When baby hair falls out, it's replaced by permanent hair. Closer to your baby's first birthday and beyond, the new hair that comes in will be stronger and thicker.

What Causes Baby Hair Loss

There are a few different reasons why your newborn is likely to shed a lot of hair in the first few months of life. Some hair-loss triggers for babies include hormonal changes, friction from the way they sleep, and common infant skin issues, like cradle cap.

Hormonal Changes

If you were loving the way your hair looked while you were expecting, guess what? Your baby was getting doses of the same pregnancy hormones that made your mane look glossy and gorgeous. Once they're born, though, your little one is no longer exposed to those same hormones. This changes up their body chemistry, resulting in the loss of some or all of their hair.

"During pregnancy, there were many good, healthy hormones traveling to your baby," says Dr. Ball. "After delivery, those hormones start to drop and this withdrawal can lead to your infant starting to lose some hair. Some moms also start to notice hair loss shortly after giving birth for a similar reason."

Friction from Sleeping

It's recommended that babies are placed on their backs for naps and at bedtime to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The friction between the back of your baby's head and a crib sheet or mattress can contribute to or speed up the normal process of infant hair loss.

"Constant rubbing against firm surfaces like crib mattresses as well as strollers and playpens may lead to those tiny hairs breaking and shedding," says Dr. Ball.

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, can occur in babies between 2 weeks and 12 months of age. It can look like scaly red or crusty yellow patches around the scalp. It typically clears up on its own but can cause some babies to lose hair in a short period.

"Usually the cradle cap is not painful or itchy," says Dr. Ball. "The scales themselves don't usually cause hair loss, but the rubbing and hair washing in an attempt to remove the scales can lead to pulling out some strands of hair."

How to Treat Infant Hair Loss

Baby hair loss is common and can largely be chalked up to hormonal shifts. You can't stop your baby's hair from going through its natural shedding process. However, if you observe bald patches on one area of your baby's scalp, you may want to pay attention to how they sleep or lay back against a car seat or stroller.

"If your baby sits or lays with their head in one direction, try to change the direction so not all the pressure is on one area," Dr. Ball suggests. "Introducing tummy time a few times a day will help limit friction hair loss."

Taking care of the way you handle your newborn's hair may also help prevent them from losing a large number of locks all at once. "Be gentle when brushing their hair or washing during bath time," advises Dr. Ball.

How Long Until My Baby's Hair Grows Back?

The infant hair loss phase tends to end by the time a child is 6 months old. Typically you will see their hair start to grow back in the months that follow. The rate at which their hair will grow is highly individual.

Babies are born with all of their hair follicles at birth. However, it's common that the mature hair that grows back to replace a child's baby hair looks different than what they were born with. Don't be surprised if your little blondie becomes a brunette, or if their previously straight hair suddenly has a wavy texture.

When To See a Doctor

If there's ever a concern about your baby's health, including hair growth, you should discuss it with their healthcare provider. Some childhood conditions may contribute to hair loss as your baby grows older.

"Usually, after a baby is 6 months of age, if there is hair loss, it should be brought up to the pediatrician as a concern," says Tanya Roman, MD, Chief of Pediatrics at Community Health of South Florida, "At that time, it may be something other than normal hair loss."

One reason an older child may lose hair is a medical condition called alopecia areata, when the immune system attacks hair follicles. Some treatments can help control this disorder. Fungal infections on the scalp can also cause hair to fall out. Oral or topical antifungal medications can clear these infections up and encourage hair to regrow.

Hair Care Tips for Babies

There are multiple ways to keep your baby's hair looking great even if it's sparse. A gentle bath can be a soothing way to signal to your baby that it's getting near bedtime, but you don't always need to shampoo. Wash your infant's hair just a few times a week with a shampoo formulated for infants and you may be able to slow down shedding a bit.

Carefully work the shampoo around your baby's scalp. There's no need to scrub aggressively. And resist the temptation to work at any cradle cap that may be lingering. Typically cradle cap will resolve itself. If not, ask your pediatrician about the best way to care for it without irritating your baby's skin or pulling away fragile hair unnecessarily.

A Word From Verywell

Your little bundle of joy is adorable with or without a full head of hair, and in due time they should have plenty of strands for styling. Remember that infant hair loss is completely normal and should slow down around the time your baby is 6 months old. Then, new hair will begin to emerge (and stick around). If you have any questions or concerns about your child's hair or general health, consult a pediatrician or healthcare provider for medical advice tailored to their needs.

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6 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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