A baby’s hairline at birth, in most cases, is not permanent and will begin changing within the first 6 months to a year. Hair loss and new hair growth enable a permanent hairline.
A newborn’s hairline may cause alarm for some parents who may feel the need to take over the natural process of stimulating hair growth.
Baby hairlines are shrouded in myths that suggest permanence but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
When you first set eyes on your little one you may see cute fresh curls, a shiny bald head, or the impression of early balding with a deep-set hairline.
Whichever it is, there is no cause for concern.
If your baby is in good health and has developed normally then you can expect your little one to grow a glorious head of hair.
The crux of the matter is that there is no normal and every baby will present a different head of hair or lack thereof.
Let’s take a deeper look at newborn hairlines and see what the experts have to say.
Baby hair growth milestones during pregnancy
Hair follicles and hair growth begin in the womb mostly as protection for the baby and is not permanent.
10 – 14 weeks gestation
Babies begin developing hair follicles all over their bodies.
The established hair follicles on your baby’s head will remain for life but not all the follicles will grow hair immediately.
20 weeks gestation
Hair beings growing on the eyebrows, upper lip, and chin.
22 weeks gestation
Bodily hair called lanugo will sprout all over your baby’s body.
Lanugo traps vernix, a white waxy substance that protects the baby’s shin while in the womb.
It also helps with hormone regulation as well as thermoregulation.
This hair growth serves an important function during pregnancy and will begin falling away in the third trimester or if a baby is born prematurely, soon after birth.
23 weeks gestation
At 23 weeks gestation, the melanin pigment begins adding color to the hair.
The hair on your baby’s head may not begin to grow immediately but the hair follicles that define your baby’s hairline develop during pregnancy and will remain for life.
No new follicles develop or grow after birth.
Hair growth on your baby’s head may begin in the womb and will take on its own growth tempo and pattern.
This is why some babies are born with what looks like a receding hairline or blotchy hair growth.
Scientific research indicates that genes and DNA play a role in the development of hair follicles and the tempo of hair growth but more research is necessary.
In 2006 researchers looked at a myth that says the amount of heartburn a mother has during pregnancy is an indication of how much hair the baby will be born with.
The more heartburn, the more hair and little to no heartburn means little to no hair.
Strangely enough, the researchers found this old wives’ tale to hold some truth.
Hormones play an important part in hair loss after birth
Hair follicles at the time of birth are either in a state of rest called the telogen phase or in a growing state called the anagen phase.
A mop of beautiful hair indicates the anagen phase while blotchy hair indicates a mix of both phases and complete baldness is the telogen phase in full force.
The same hormones responsible for the mother’s hair growth during pregnancy are passed through the umbilical cord to the baby but after birth, the flow of these hormones is greatly reduced which triggers hair loss in newborns and may also affect some mothers as well.
Researchers have noted that anxiety and stress during childbirth affect both mother and baby which contributes to inducing the telogen or rest phase of hair growth which results in hair loss.
This stress-induced hair loss condition is called “telogen effluvium.”
Most babies will lose the hair they are born with within the first six months of life.
Some babies who are born with a beautiful head of hair may go bald within a few weeks but fret not, it will all grow back again.
Your baby goes through hair growth cycles that replace all the hair they are born with and the new cycle may deliver a different hair color and texture.
Hair color and texture is pretty much a guessing game and can come from anyone in the family tree.
Straight hair can become curly and light blonde hair may darken to a rich auburn color.
Pattern hair loss among infants
Hair loss among infants born with a head of hair goes mostly unnoticed as there is an overlap of new hair growth and normal infant hair loss.
But thinning of hair or baldness at the back of a baby’s head is commonplace.
This extreme loss of hair is largely caused by friction as your baby rubs against firm surfaces like crib mattresses, strollers, and playpens.
It is recommended for babies to sleep on their back to avoid SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and as a result, the back of your baby’s head is continuously rubbing against crib mattresses and so on.
This hair loss pattern is called neonatal occipital alopecia or friction alopecia.
This is another temporary hair phase that will dissipate from the time your baby begins rolling over and sitting upright.
The unsightly bald spot will be swamped with hair by the seventh month.
What may make you scratch your head is the result of research conducted in 2011 which suggests that occipital alopecia actually begins in the womb.
The study indicates that the mothers of affected babies are younger than 34 at the time of birth and delivered naturally at full term.
However, this theory is not widely accepted and the friction theory remains the more logical explanation.
Other reasons for infant hair loss
Cradle cap looks nasty but the condition is not contagious, painful, or itchy.
Doctors aren’t sure what exactly causes cradle cap but suspect yeast or hormonal changes that cause an excess of oil production on the scalp.
Contrary to public belief, a cradle cap does not cause hair loss but removing stubborn scales will inadvertently take a few hair strands with it.
Ringworm is caused by a variety of fungi and not by worms as such.
Hair loss may result from the ring-like rash on your baby’s scalp.
Ringworm is not common in babies under the age of two but it is highly contagious and spreads through communally used items like hairbrushes so caution is advised.
This skin condition leads to patchy bald spots and is caused by a defect in the immune system that results in an attack on healthy hair cells.
The condition is very rare in infants younger than six months and is not contagious.
Conditions like ringworm and alopecia areata are treatable and if you notice any symptoms of these conditions, consult your doctor.
Tips on how to promote your baby’s hair growth
The amount of hair your baby is born with cannot be predicted but if you see what looks like a receding hairline or spotted baldness you can try these tips to help stimulate hair growth.
1. Coconut oil
Coconut oil is rich in vitamin E and has great antioxidant properties.
It benefits the skin but also promotes hair growth by improving blood circulation to the hair follicles on the scalp.
Gently apply coconut oil to your baby’s scalp every few days. It helps to moisturize the hair and also helps to eliminate the cradle cap.
2. Brush your baby’s hair
Gently brushing and massaging your baby’s scalp will encourage blood flow which will stimulate hair growth.
Regular brushing with a soft brush also helps to detangle knotted hair, loosen the cradle cap, and remove dry skin.
3. Shampoo your baby’s hair often
Washing your baby’s hair every few days will keep their hair clean and moist.
Dirt build-up dries the hair which can lead to other conditions developing.
Use a mild baby shampoo with like warm water and use the time to softly massage our baby’s scalp.
You may also want to use a baby hair conditioner that moisturizes the hair and prevents breakage.
4. Dry with a soft towel
Use a soft towel to dab dry your baby’s hair after a bath or hair wash.
A hard towel contributes to friction and may damage your baby’s hair.
5. Maintain a healthy diet
When your baby transitions to eating solids, include foods rich in iron, vitamin A, B, D, zinc, and protein.
If you are breastfeeding, your diet is vital to your baby’s health and development.
If your diet is balanced then the need for supplements will not be necessary; however, any change in your baby’s condition should be discussed with your doctor.
6. Hair ties and haircuts
Avoid using tight hair ties as they pull at strands of hair and put stress on the hair follicles that will contribute to hair loss.
Haircuts allow you to even out your baby’s hair and make slower-growing patches less obvious.
Haircuts do not promote hair growth but rather create the illusion of body or volume which may fuel the age-old myth that haircuts stimulate hair growth.
Do babies’ hairlines change?
No, hairlines don’t change but hair growth does.
Babies will suffer hair loss over the first 6 months which peaks at about 3 months old.
Some babies will have delayed hair growth that may appear to be a reclining hairline but the follicles are at rest and when they become active, hair will grow normally.
How long does it take for a baby’s permanent hairline to be established?
This process can take from 6 months to a few years, usually 2 to 3 years.
Every baby is different or unique and hir growth is part of their early development that is influenced by some external factors like diet and blood circulation through scalp stimulation.
Why are some babies born with hair on their foreheads?
This fine hair on a baby’s forehead is called lanugo which grows on your baby’s body while in the womb to aid skin protection.
These fine hairs normally fall off between week 24 and 28 of gestation but some babies will only lose these fine hairs in the first few weeks after birth.
Your baby’s hairline at birth is not a definite indication of a permanent hairline.
Due to extreme hormonal changes and birth-related stress babies will lose much of the hair they are born with but normal hair growth will coincide with this process.
Infant hair loss is a natural process and does not necessarily indicate a health condition.
If you breastfeed, your diet will play an important part of your baby’s health and development which includes growing a healthy head of hair.
In general, a baby’s lifelong hairline will become visible from a few months of age but can take longer depending on genes, DNA, nutrition, and general scalp and hair care.
Besides the few tips mentioned above, there is not else you can do besides wait it out to see your baby’s full head of hair.