Have you been cuddling your sweet little babe and asking yourself:
Why does my baby’s head smell like sour milk? But you know it’s not actually milk?
If so, then your little one probably has a case of cradle cap.
No need to worry though. Cradle cap is just a build up of scaly, crusty patches on the scalp and it’s super common among infants. Both of my kiddos had it shortly after birth.
The condition is harmless and babies typically grow out of it within months. Still though, I know all too well that “cheesy” smell on baby’s head and wanting to be rid of it.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. This post is intended to inform only and not meant to treat any medical condition. Please consult your baby’s pediatrician for medical advice.
How To Get Rid Of Cradle Cap
The good news is that you can get rid of your baby’s cradle cap with just a little bit of extra care in the bath. Here’s what to do:
Start by shampooing baby’s hair. Then use the silicone bristles of a cradle cap comb to help soften and break up the scales (this is the one I used). Then use the fine tooth part of the comb to remove the build up from the scalp.
You’ll likely need to do this a few times or over a period of time depending upon how bad it is.
I gotta tell you, it’s kinda gross! But once it’s gone so is that sour milk smell LOL.
It can also be a little daunting as you have to be especially gentle around the fontanelle (the soft spot on baby’s head).
If your baby’s cradle cap is really bad, you might also consider a medicated shampoo. I recommend the comb at a minimum. With my first son I just went ahead and did both the comb and shampoo while he was a newborn and his cradle cap was gone after a few baths. So I kind of wondered if the shampoo was even necessary (considering I used a few pumps and then ended up giving the rest away).
When baby number two came around, I skipped the shampoo and just used the comb. He must have had a worse case than his brother though because his cradle cap persisted until he was 7 months old. And he had this one stubborn spot on the back of his head that just would not go away!
And… it would bleed. 😔
My son was still sleeping on his back at this point and would rub his head back and forth to self sooth, which only made it bleed more and take longer to heal. (Thankfully he didn’t seem to be bothered by it).
At this point my doctor suggested using Cortizone cream for 7 days (please ask your doctor before you do this), and she assured me that he would outgrow it by the time he was 1 year old.
In the meantime I just kept using the comb with each bath to keep the scaly build up at bay. Below you can see that it was looking much better with some consistent care.
If I could go back in time, I would have used a medicated shampoo again with my second son. I’m not sure why I didn’t (I think I was afraid of wasting it again?) But anyway, it did heal with just the comb, and he did grow out of it eventually.
So to get rid of your baby’s cradle cap, start with the comb, and if it’s really bad beyond the newborn phase then add in a shampoo (this is the one I used the first time that is formulated for cradle cap).
Even if you end up with a stubborn spot for awhile like my baby, you’ll be glad to have the initial cheesy smelling cradle cap gone from the newborn phase.
So you can stop googling “why does my baby’s head smell like sour milk”! And you can start taking in those wonderful little whiffs of baby smell instead.
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