How to Remove Cradle Cap | Best results

how to remove cradle cap from an infant

I was just looking through old photos and reminiscing about when my daughter was an infant. In this adorable photo, you can see two things really clearly: 1) she is having a whale of a time and 2) she really struggled with dreadful cradle cap. We were so stressed out by this that we spent hours researching, speaking to professionals and trying different products in an attempt to improve the situation. The question, “How to remove cradle cap?” did not have a simple answer… in fact there are so many different remedies, products and solutions available! We will be sharing our experience and answering the question here! 

The best cradle cap treatment we would use on an infant is to apply a small amount of natural oil like coconut or olive oil before a bath. Massage it into the cradle cap gently, then leave it in the hair for 15-20 minutes (being careful to  avoid the eyes).  While bathing them, rinse out the oil and apply a mild shampoo. Massage the shampoo in, being sure not to scratch or pick at the cradle cap. Do this 3-4 times a week and it should remove most of the cradle cap.

What is cradle cap & why do they get it?

how to remove cradle cap from an infantCradle cap is a harmless skin condition and shares similarities with dandruff, it isn’t a cause for concern and affects around 10% of infants at 1 month worldwide. According to Medical News Today, it affects up to 70% by three months.

It is really important to note that it does not bother your baby. Although it may look unsightly and itchy, they have no idea it’s there.

As you can see from the image, it can appear as dry yellow crusts or can even be quite oily and spread beyond their scalp  and around their eyebrows. 

When we were speaking to a doctor about our daughter’s cradle cap, she said there was no real known reason as to why babies suffer from it; it just seems to be something that happens.

What happens if I do nothing?

As previously mentioned cradle cap is completely normal and in most cases harmless. If you don’t mind the way it looks and the faint smell, in most cases, the cradle cap will go away within a few months, however, it doesn’t always. In some cases, your child can have cradle cap for up to three years; in which case, you might want to seek intervention.

In our experience, by month three our daughter’s cradle cap was getting quite bad. According to the NHS website, it’s a recommendation that you put the oil on your baby’s head, massage it in and leave it overnight, washing it out in the morning…

Following this, our daughter’s cradle cap had increased by the morning, it looked inflamed, sore, more yellow and was producing a really strong smell that we both found hard to deal with. We went and sought advice from a number of pharmacists, who told us about the cradle cap treatment method specified at the beginning. Unfortunately, before we could start that method, we’d need to use a stronger shampoo that would help to get rid of some of the irritation.  

There are also some cases where cradle cap can get infected, in which case continuing to do nothing will be bad. 

Infected cradle cap

There are a number of signs that your baby’s cradle cap might be infected. Be sure to look out for these signs and if they show up, be sure to contact a medical professional:

  • cradle cap has started to show up at different sites around the baby’s body
  • if the scales start to discharge or bleed
  • swelling
  • signs of fungal infection
  • no change after several weeks of treatment

In the UK, you can speak to a pharmacist, call 111, seek advice from a health visitor or book a GP appointment. In the worst-case scenario, if you are concerned and none of the other options are available, you could always go to Accident and Emergency, so your little one can be checked over and given the appropriate treatment if needed.

Best mild shampoos for cradle cap

When researching how to remove cradle cap, we came across a number of different cradle cap treatments and mild shampoos that all swore to get rid of it over time! From our experience, they will all work well in your quest to find out how to remove cradle cap! 

The first product below, Dentinox is specifically designed to tackle cradle cap, and is what we had to use when our daughter’s scalp was inflamed and smelly. The instructions say that it’s mild and can be used even when the cradle cap is gone, however, our daughter hated this shampoo. If it went in her eyes she’d cry for ages, as she was such a fidget, this was a frequent experience. So, our advice? Use Dentinox in the short term to help get rid of the majority of the cradle cap – just be careful not to get it anywhere near your little one’s eyes. Then discontinue use once the cradle cap is cleared / nearly gone….

The recommendation of the pharmacist was to use the Childs Farm products. We used this for months after the Dentinox, however, we found that it wasn’t great for her type of curly hair (it turned into a fuzz ball) and we didn’t like the lack of smell.


Now, over a year down the line, we tend to alternate between the Aveeno which is lovely and the Weleda, which is also lovely, natural and unfortunately expensive (but totally worth it in our opinion)! The benefit of the Aveeno and Weleda is that as well as using it to wash your baby’s hair while they have cradle cap, it doesn’t hurt their eyes, it can be used on their body as well and are both good for sensitive skin, killing three birds with one stone.

How to remove cradle cap | Other treatments

There are some other methods you could use, however, we have found these to be less successful. But you never know, what didn’t work for us may work for you.

Try lathering and massaging the baby’s head using a soft flannel. We found that this started to pull the scales off rather than loosen them, some actually got stuck to the flannel and we had to detach them.

Another method is to brush the hair while it is wet, you can purchase a special brush and comb to help to loosen them. Truth be told, we purchased the brush but didn’t actually use it as by the time we’d purchased it our daughter’s cradle cap had started to go and we didn’t want to risk aggravating it again. 

There are different types of oils you can use to massage your baby’s scalp. We used shea butter but didn’t like the smell, especially combined with the odour caused by our daughter’s cradle cap. You can also use baby oil, however, I’d not use this personally due to it not being natural and heavily scented. 


Although you might want to know how to remove cradle cap, it’s important to remember that it is in fact, quite normal for infants to get it and more often than not it will go on its own.  

The cradle cap treatment suggested in this post was suggested to us by several pharmacists and worked wonders for our daughter. I hope it works wonders for your little one too.

For more great newborn/toddler posts, why not check out our newborn sections, or even jump to a post about 12 Things To Know About Being A Mum In Year 1.

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