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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Baby's Hair

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Debunking Old Wives' Tales: Baby's Hair

Apr 12, 2021

Will shaving your baby's head make its hair grow thicker? Pediatrician Dr. Cindy Gellner says no. On this episode of Debunking Old Wives’ Tales, Dr. Gellner highlights some common misconceptions out there about what makes a baby's hair grow and gives some real, science-based tips for caring for your baby's hair.  

Episode Transcript

It sounds strange, but I hear a lot of old wives' tales about children and their hair. We'll tease out the truth on these hair tales on today's Scope.

Parents often tell me that they shave their baby's head because it will make their hair grow in thicker. Unfortunately, that's not true, and all you'll have is a bald baby. Hair texture and growth rate are determined by genetics, and the only time a person's hair will change is if they've had chemotherapy.

Then there's the opposite. If you cut a baby's hair before their first birthday, it will give them bad hair. No, got to stick with genetics on this one, not the timing of your baby's first haircut.

Another one is that eating carrots or the heels or crusts of bread will make your child's hair curly. If only this one was true. Again, back to genetics. Eating healthy food will make your hair look good, but it has nothing to do with curls. There is one positive truth about eating the crusts of bread though. It actually contains eight times the anti-oxidants of any other part of the bread.

Then there's the thought that you should wash your child's hair until it squeaks, hence getting it squeaky clean. Forget this one. Shampooing your child's hair until it squeaks strips the hair shafts of natural oils and can make it dry and frizzy. Stick to lathering just once and rinsing thoroughly with a shampoo that is made for children and it is safe if it gets into their eyes, which you know it will.

Finally, there's the old wives' tale about how if your baby comes out with a full head of hair that would explain all the heartburn you had during pregnancy. Surprisingly, researchers have found this one to be true in some cases, although they're not really quite sure how. Wasn't the case for me, I had bad heartburn and two bald babies. So this one too, really, should be taken with a grain of salt.

And if your child has no hair, that's okay, as long as they're not over the age of, say one or two, and don't have any evidence of any hair formation. If that's the case, then you'll want to talk to your pediatrician.

updated: April 12, 2021
originally published: March 6, 2017