You’ve probably experienced it numerous times, the obligatory, “I think the baby looks like…” statement by friends and family members after your baby was born. Your baby’s facial features are certainly going to change quickly; their hair color and even the style (straight, curly, wavy, etc) will also change over their first few years of life.
Hair growth is determined very early in pregnancy. During the first trimester, around the 10th week of gestation, hair follicles appear on the scalp. And, by 18-20 weeks gestation, your baby’s entire scalp is covered in hair follicles that will set their hair pattern.
· Fun fact: No new hair follicles are formed after birth.
Hair growth occurs from the forehead to the back of the neck during gestation. Typically, babies will often have more hair on the front and sides of their head when they are born. This hair will often fall out earlier while hair on the back of the head will typically fall out by 8-12 weeks of life.
· Newborn hair is replaced by more maturing, thicker hair often by 3-7 months of age and then eventually hair will be matured by around 2 years old.
o Don’t fret if your baby is still bald at their first birthday. Every child is different and some take longer to start to grow their mature head of hair.
What determines my baby’s hair color?
Hair color is determined by a substance called melanin. Melanin is produced by specific cells in the body and is responsible for the color of our hair, skin, and eyes. The color of your baby’s hair depends on the amount of melanin that is produced which is a part of their genetic makeup. Hair color typically follows the tendency of skin color, (i.e. darker skin, darker hair), however, like every rule, there are exceptions. Additionally, hair color can continue to get darker as your child goes through puberty because of an increase in melanin in response to changes in their hormone levels.
Bald spots, patches of different color hair, cowlicks, among others, can all be normal variations in hair growth, even with children in the same family. Occasionally, some changes in hair appearance aren’t able to be noticed until your child gets older and begins to grow more mature hair.
Newborn hair care tips:
· Babies do not need their hair washed every day. If you use a shampoo, use only a shampoo intended for babies.
· Tight braids or headbands can damage growing hair and should be avoided. Opt for a softer hair accessory that doesn’t pull the hair.Be sure to read our article on newborn bathing on All things pediatric.
Hair growth or coloring products, whether “natural” or not, should never be used on a baby.
For more information on hair growth or newborn care, please consult with your pediatrician.
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