So you’ve found crusty yellow scales on your baby’s scalp. It’s not baby dandruff. The likely culprit? Cradle cap.

So what is cradle cap anyway? And what can you do about it?

Keep on reading for everything you need to know, including how to get rid of it for good.

What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap is flaky, dry skin or thick oily, yellow crusting on a baby’s scalp. Scales can also appear on the nose, ears, eyelids and groin. It usually appears in the first few months and clears up on its own in about six to 12 months.

Cradle cap’s proper name is infantile seborrheic dermatitis. While this may sound serious, the good news is that it is very common, harmless and easily treated.

Cradle cap is not an illness, is not contagious and can happen no matter how well you care for your baby.

What causes cradle cap?

The cause is unknown, but it is not caused by allergies or poor hygiene.

How do I treat it?

Cradle cap is not itchy and should not bother your baby, so there’s no need to do anything.

But if the look of it bothers you, you can try to loosen the scales by gently massaging your baby’s scalp with a soft brush or your fingers. You can also try shampooing more often and then brushing your baby’s scalp gently with a soft brush or towel.

Another remedy some parents try is to gently rub almond or olive oil into your baby’s scalp. Leave it there for 15 minutes before gently massaging the scalp to remove the scales. Always wash your baby’s scalp with shampoo to remove the oil.

clever baby bath time hack

Do I need to see a doctor about cradle cap?

Cradle cap does not usually need medical treatment and will clear up within a few months. If it is severe, spreading or there is any bleeding, talk with your baby’s doctor. Or if your baby’s scalp seems itchy, talk with your doctor as it may be another skin condition called eczema which can benefit from treatment.

So while cradle cap may look unattractive, it’s nothing to worry about and will clear up as your baby grows older.

Our Mum Central community’s tips

We asked our Mum Central community to share your own top tips for treating cradle cap. Here’s what you said!

Some mums use remedies you can find in your pantry!

I rub coconut oil on my little one and then comb her hair to loosen. Then a nice gentle scrub with some baby shampoo in the bath” Nicole

“Olive oil, leave on overnight then comb out as much as possible and wash” Nerida

“A paste of bicarbonate soda and water. Mix it up until it’s like toothpaste, smear on and let dry. Wash off in the bath and cradle cap will just lift off. One treatment was all we needed” Mary

Other mums swear by these treatments.

Normal kids conditioner! Was washing my big girls hair and had a bit of extra conditioner on my hand so put it in the baby’s hair. Cradle cap disappeared!”  Louisa

“Lanolin cream rub it in in the morning, wash it out in the evening, it works” Mishelle

“Vaseline!! Rub it all over, let it sit for at least 30 mins, comb it all out” Taryn

“Moo Goo was amazing two days and it was gone” Lauren

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Author

I love my three country kids - and all things writing! Like most mums, I wear lots of hats - writer, children's author, organisational psychologist and the pairer of the odd socks!

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