Cradle Cap: the Best way to get rid of it!

Cradle cap, the yellow scaly area that appears on a baby or childs head (and sometimes face as well) is very common and completely harmless. You may also hear it called baby dandruff. While it’s harmless, it looks gross and most of us parents want to free our cute kiddos from this stuff as quickly as possible.

It took over 2 years to find something that finally cleared it up on my older daughter. It worked like a charm with our younger daughter as well. So, today I’m saving you the hassle and giving you our surefire trick for getting rid of it, and some other ideas that have worked for other moms too!

cradle cap fix

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My daughter developed cradle cap early on. As nervous new parents we, of course, asked our pediatrician what it was and she explained that it was simply cradle cap and was completely harmless.

I can’t remember which of the potential fixes she suggested to us but it wasn’t the one that worked. Over the next two years we tried various tricks to get rid of it. Often large spans of time would pass in between attempts as it didn’t bother her and nothing we tried seemed to work.

The one trick that works!

Then one day I was scrolling in one of my mom groups on Facebook (I’m an introvert with 2 young kids so FB is my socialization.). There was a conversation about cradle cap and someone said their pediatrician recommended head and shoulders!

Yes, this is the same thing my husband uses for dandruff. We used it on her a few times and lo and behold it worked! Her cradle cap was finally gone! Now she’s 3 years old and we still use this shampoo on her occasionally to ensure the cradle cap doesn’t come back.

She was a toddler before we used it on her cradle cap and I totally understand not wanting to use this shampoo on a young baby. (If you want to try it on a young baby I’d definitely check with your pediatrician first.)

I didn’t use it on my youngest until she was about a year old and it was easier to tip her head back and ensure the shampoo wasn’t going to get in her eyes.

If you want to try more chemical-free methods first try the other more natural methods below. You’ll find them towards the bottom of the post after a brief discussion about what cradle cap is and whether you even need to worry about getting rid of it.

babies with cradle cap on head

What is cradle cap

According to the mayo clinic, the actual cause of cradle cap isn’t known. But experts agree that it’s basically a build up of oil that is not caused by poor hygiene. It causes yellow scaly patches to appear on their head, and even behind their ears or on parts of the face.

It’s harmless and doesn’t bother most babies. It can appear in small patches or all over your child’s head. It happens in toddlers too, not just newborns.

Do you need to get rid of it?

The short answer is no. Getting rid of it is purely for cosmetic reasons. It grosses out some of us parents so it can be easily gotten rid of. But it’s no more harmful than dandruff is for adults and it doesn’t seem to be as itchy.

Natural Methods for getting rid of Cradle Cap

First, a warning

Most of these methods involve scrubbing at the spot of cradle cap once you’ve hopefully loosened it. Please be super gentle when you do this, especially with newborns. Their wispy hair is fragile and if you scrub it too vigorously it will fall out!

A friend of mine rubbed her little girls head almost bald trying to scrub off the cradle cap…whoops.

washing baby's head for cradle cap

Oil Method

One method that works for many is to rub oil into your child’s scalp. Coconut oil, olive oil, baby oil whatever you have. Let it sit for a while and then gently wash your child’s hair per usual.

The theory is that the oil will help to soften and loosen the scaly patches so that they’ll come off easily with a little scrubbing and combing.

We tried this method a couple of times and all we got was a baby with cradle cap and greasy hair. We tried olive oil, Aquaphor, and maybe coconut oil as well.


Sometimes giving it a good but gentle scrub with a brush, washcloth, or kit like this one from Frida baby may loosen the cradle cap flakes. We tried all of these and they did not work. Not even the Frida baby and I love their products, especially the Nose Frida.

Please let me know if these tricks work for you or drop your favorite cradle cap cure in the comments and help another mama out! Follow me on Pinterest for all things pregnancy, baby, and parenting!

cradle cap remedies

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