Cradle cap has little to do with cradle or any other type of bed your baby sleeps in. Cradle cap is a common form of dermatitis, also known as crustea lactea. Cradle cap is caused by over reactive sebum glands on the baby’s scalp and the quick growth of the baby’s skin, so that old skin cells cannot fall off, stick to sebum and accumulate on the baby’s head.
Cradle cap is an unattractive yet generally harmless skin condition that usually disappears by itself by your baby’s first birthday. Sometimes, when left untreated, cradle cap can form thick, dense crusts that can crack and even bleed. This is why it’s important to let your pediatrician observe your baby’s head and decide whether home remedies are enough or you need to use an over-the-counter medication such as cortisone.
It’s very easy to remove yellowish flakes and small crusts at home with a little olive oil and a natural-bristle toothbrush or small children’s hair brush. Prepare a muslin cloth square, warm the oil in a cup of hot water, soak the muslin in the oil and apply onto the baby’s head. Make sure the oil is not too hot! After five to ten minutes, remove the fabric and gently scrape off the flakes with toothbrush or hair brush. Repeat every other day until you see an improvement. Frequent gentle shampooing may prevent cradle cap from increasing.
Here’s a recipe of a simple baby oil that I blended myself to use as a massage and cleansing oil – I love the formula so much, I now upgraded it for my Petite Marie Organics line, debuting in October 2008:
Green Baby Oil
1/2 cup extra light organic olive oil
1/2 cup sweet almond organic oil (can be substituted for grape seed oil)
1 teaspoon calendula oil extract
2 drops rose essential oil
1 drop lavender essential oil
Blend all ingredients in a glass bottle with a spout and use as often as needed. Makes an excellent bum cleanser, cradle cap remover, and all-over massage oil.