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Baby Hair Care

Whether it's thin, thick, curly, or practically nonexistent, parents love to run their fingers through their baby's hair just for the pure pleasure of it. And seeing it sticking up in the morning or slick and wet in the bath is one of those wonderful little joys of parenthood. In fact, many moms put off baby's first haircut for as long as possible, because seeing those wispy little curls fall to the floor is often the first sign that babyhood is coming to an end.

But eventually (like when your baby can't see through the hair in his eyes!) some locks have to go. And beyond haircuts, there's more to baby hair care -- even if your baby hardly has any.

If your baby has no hair...

Care tip: Shampoo twice a week to avoid cradle cap -- oily, flaky patches of skin on the scalp.

Styling tip: Hats are a must to protect baby's head from the sun -- and a bonnet or baseball cap can help strangers tell a girl from a boy.

If your baby has thin and wispy hair...

Care tip: Comb gently and trim wisps that fall into baby's ears or eyes.

Styling tip: For boys, comb-overs frequently won't hold; keep hair short instead. For girls, let it grow long and clip it into a cute ponytail.

If your baby has thick and curly hair...

Care tip: Slather on a conditioner or baby oil after shampooing once a week if hair is very dry. Comb hair gently from roots to scalp before rinsing conditioner out.

Styling tip: For boys, the shorter the hair, the more manageable. For girls, section long hair into ponytails to keep it from tangling.

If your baby has thick and straight hair...

Care tip: In some cultures, it's a tradition to shave even thick hair so it comes in healthier, but frequent haircuts can also do the trick.

Styling tip: A very soft brush will keep hair smooth and shiny, and bangs will keep you from having to fight to hold long hair back.

Cozy Friedman, owner of the Cozy's Cuts for Kids salons in New York, tells us the top bloopers she sees when parents cut their baby's hair.

  • Making bangs too short. People think bangs are easy, so they start with them. But if you're unpracticed, the tendency is to keep cutting them shorter and shorter in an effort to even them out, Friedman warns. Instead, leave the bangs for last and remember that it's better to let them be ragged than to keep chopping.
  • Cutting bangs too far back. Parents sometimes cut the bangs right into the sides of the hair, which ends up looking strange, says Friedman. Unfortunately, it's hard to fix -- there's a long growing-out period. Be sure to separate only a small portion of the front of hair for bangs and smooth everything else back, or pin it with barrettes.
  • Making a cowlick worse. A cowlick is a lock of hair that grows in a circular pattern at the scalp. If you cut that hair short, it sticks straight up, says Friedman. If you think your child has a cowlick (it's often genetic, so if you or your partner has one, your child may too), go for a longer cut -- or see a professional hairstylist who frequently cuts kids' hair for some advice.
  • Attempting a haircut without any distractions. Let your kid watch a video, have a friend or your partner blow bubbles at him, or sing songs to help keep your baby amused and sitting still. At Cozy's Cuts it takes 15 to 20 minutes to trim a child's hair -- an eternity in baby time -- so the staff employs all these tricks and more, including sitting the kids in chairs shaped like toy vehicles.

How in the world can you keep a baby from fussing during a shampoo? Here's what other moms have to say:

"You don't need to pour water over your baby's head. Just take a damp -- not soaking or dripping -- washcloth and wipe the shampoo away." --Mia Riley, Everett, WA

"We got our 1-year-old used to water on his face in infancy. At 3 months, we'd hold him in the shower with us, and now he doesn't mind shampooing." --Siw Annie, Tucson, AZ

"After shampooing, I ask my kids to look up at the shower sprayer. Then I use a beach bucket to rinse off their heads." --Michelle Thomas, Confluence, PA

"Hang a bright toy from the shower-curtain bar to give your child something to look at. With one hand, gently pull down on her lower ear to keep her looking up, and use the other hand to rinse off shampoo with a large plastic cup." --Kaari Bouma, Homer, AK

"At 2, my daughter would hold a folded hand towel over her eyes. The towel got soaked, but she felt secure. Now that she's 3, I give her the shower hose; she sprays it all over the place but is happy because she's in control." --Liz Shoaff, New Castle, PA

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.