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What Are the Benefits of Olive Oil for Baby Hair?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 21, 2024
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The use of olive oil for baby hair can have several potential benefits, including strengthening of the hair as well as helping with the removal of cradle cap. It can also soften frizzy or coarse hair in some cases, and it is used in various hair care products for this reason. The important thing to remember is that baby skin is delicate and can become irritated, so it's important to be as gentle as possible.

One common use of olive oil on baby hair is in the removal of cradle cap. Cradle cap is a condition that causes flakes and scales to form on a baby's head shortly after birth. These scales appear similar to dandruff, as they are usually pale yellow or white, and they flake up when scratched or lifted from the scalp. An old home remedy involves the use of olive oil to help loosen the scales so they are easier to remove.

To use olive oil for baby hair to get rid of cradle cap, the scalp should be covered with a thin layer of oil, which is allowed to sit for a few minutes while it absorbs. Once a few minutes have passed, the scales can be lifted and removed by going over the scalp with a fine-toothed comb. It is important to be as gentle as possible during this process. If baby begins to cry or seems uncomfortable, stop. Cradle cap is unsightly, but it doesn't cause any harm to the infant.

The use of olive oil for baby hair can also help strengthen the hair and make it softer in infants with naturally course or curly hair. This can be accomplished by smoothing a small amount throughout the hair. Olive oil should be used sparingly, since over time the hair can become too oily. If hair is dry and brittle, it might also be a good idea to avoid washing it too often, since water and shampoo can deplete hair of oils even further.

Some parents may wonder whether they should adjust their baby’s diet to address scalp or hair problems. If you think your baby’s hair or scalp issues are related to a reaction to food, you should make an appointment with a pediatric nutritionist. Pediatric nutritionists specialize in the nutritional needs of infants and children and can provide a helpful analysis of your baby’s diet, as well as advice on how you can safely make effective changes.

When deciding on whether to use olive oil for baby hair, it is always best to speak with a doctor. The use of olive oil is not associated with side effects, but it's a good idea to ensure that it is just dry hair or cradle cap before treating it. Some individuals claim that using olive oil on the skin can also be beneficial, but dry skin should also be checked out in an infant to rule out dehydration and other issues.

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Discussion Comments
By MelanieST — On Feb 13, 2014

Try argan oil. It is extremely good moisturizing hair and soft enough for babies!

By MrsPramm — On Jan 11, 2013

@bythewell - I don't think it hurts to put a little bit of olive oil on it, even if you don't try to flake it away. Babies are pretty good at letting you now if you're doing something to hurt them, after all. And sometimes it helps the mother to know that they are managing to do something, even if that something isn't the most helpful thing in the world.

You definitely do need to keep an eye on it though, because if it does start to get worse, or if it cracks or gets a bit too raw it can provide a breeding ground for bacteria and that's the last thing you want.

Of course, if you've got a baby young enough to have cradle cap in the first place, you're probably getting regular check ups for him anyway and the doctor can help with any concerns.

By bythewell — On Jan 11, 2013

I'm of the opinion that it's better to just leave the cradle cap alone. It usually goes away by itself and it doesn't really do any harm if you keep an eye on it.

Get it checked out by the doctor if you're worried, but it's so common, no other mother is going to judge you for it or anything. Just let it clear up on its own, so you don't risk hurting your baby by fiddling with it too much.

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