Cradle Cap


Cradle cap seems like one of those things that are general knowledge to any mum, however, when I went to have my hair braided at Kenyatta Market and the women there (speaking in mother tongue), were explaining that when a baby is born, they need to be scared with a chicken so that the cradle cap can close up and hiccups can go. Hiccups is a whole article on its own for sure.

newborn head in hands

I have been asked this question severally and more so this week. Cradle cap. How to wash it, how to prevent it, should I go to hospital, etc. the question keep coming. To be honest, I had never though about it but the frequency in which I have received the question in the past few days, has made me realise that mothers need to hear about it.

This is the definition of a cradle cap according to Wikipedia Cradle cap is a yellowish, patchy, greasy, scaly and crusty skin rash that occurs on the scalp of recently born babies. It is usually not itchy and does not bother the baby. Cradle cap most commonly begins sometime in the first 3 months.

And according to baby center, this is what causes the cradle cap: It’s thought that cradle cap happens as a result of hormones left in your baby’s body from pregnancy. These stimulate secretions from the oil glands in the skin, making the skin cells on your baby’s head stick to the scalp. These secretions reduce in the weeks and months after birth, which is why cradle cap tends to clear up on its own.

Ok, now that we have the technical bit out of the way, how did I care for my son’s cradle cap?


  • Hair brush
  • Baby comb
  • Liquid oil- olive oil, Johnsons, Cussons, Almond oil, coconut oil (you get the drift)
  • Wash clothe
  • Warm water
  • Towel
  • Soap

How to clean it

  1. This can be done during bath time.
  2. Wash the baby’s head with warm water, use the comb to bring up any flakes that are not attached to the skin, use the brush to remove any flakes that pass through the comb.
  3. Dry the baby’s head
  4. Apply a generous amount of the oil, make sure that it gets to the scalp.
  5. Leave it to ‘soak’ over night
  6. In the morning, use the comb to bring up and flakes, do not wet the hair – make sure that you do not scrub the scalp with the comb and cause irritation. Do not force the flakes out.
  7. Use the brush to brush off excess flakes.
  8. Do this continuously till it clears, this may take a week or 2 depending on how much cradle cap the baby had.

It’s very important to oil the baby’s head as it moisturises and makes sure that the drying doesn’t leave an open wound

NB. Do not be tempted to pull off the flakes, just comb them out.


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