You may have seen your baby’s hair on your ultrasound scan and wondered how much they’ll have when they finally arrive!
Sadly, even 4-D scans do not predict hair texture, color, or any other changes in your little bundle’s hair – only time will tell.
Texture change is highly individual for every baby as the hair experiences shedding and regrowth at different rates. As keratin is produced (around 6-12 months), some hair types will become thicker and curlier while other babies will continue to have fine, soft hair into childhood and beyond.
Some children may not experience a definitive change in their hair texture until around 2 years of age.
Genetics determine texture and color, but the rate at which these changes all appear in your baby’s hair can be down to hormonal shifts, diet, haircare, and whenever the follicles feel like developing!
Here’s how baby hair typically behaves from the newborn stage through to the toddler years. We’ll also answer some baby hair FAQs.
Baby Hair Growth Stages
There is no clear-cut “norm” when it comes to baby hair growth. Some babies are born with a shock of thick, luxurious hair while others come into the world as bald as their cute little behind!
Let’s look at what you can expect your little one’s hair journey to look like from birth to toddlerhood.
Newborn Baby Hair
Some babies arrive completely bare on top, but many newborns are born with fine, silky hair with poor pigmentation. This is known as vellus hair and is completely normal.
Other babies may be born with a full head of hair thanks to terminal hairs already present, which is also considered normal.
Don’t get too attached to those strands though because they may very likely fall out within the first six months.
Baby Hair 3-6 Months
It’s not unusual for babies to lose some hair at this stage of development, and within a few months, it should grow back somewhat thicker and coarser than before.
Other babies may retain their fine, silky strands, though they are not likely to grow very long for a few months yet.
Baby Hair 7-9 Months
Between 6 and 12 months old, your baby’s hair should begin forming a noticeable strength and structure as the production of the protein keratin kicks in and follicles continue to mature.
Your little one may continue to grow soft, fine hair, or the increase in keratin could see thicker, curly, or wavy hairs develop.
If your baby has been bald since shedding their hair earlier, hair may now begin to grow back anywhere between 3 and 7 months of age.
Around this time, infant hair that began as black or dark brown may lighten to lighter brown or even blonde locks, or light hair may become darker.
Baby Hair 10-12 Months
As hair follicles continue to develop, additional terminal hairs (long strands with tapered ends) appear, and hair texture becomes slightly more coarse, resulting in more tangles and difficult brushing.
On the plus side, cradle cap (infantile seborrheic dermatitis) should start to disappear by around 12 months old.
Cradle cap affects many babies and can begin as early as 2 weeks of age and last a little beyond their first birthday.
The oil produced by the scalp’s sebaceous glands interferes with their natural hair-shedding cycle, resulting in scaly patches, but this is easily treated.
Baby Hair 1-2 Years
Around their first birthday or a little later, your baby will begin forming thicker terminal hairs.
Children with thicker, curlier hair tend to go through more phases of losing and gaining volume as these new terminal hairs replace the old ones.
If your little one is still bald by age 2, be sure to discuss this with your pediatrician to rule out a hormonal imbalance, scalp infection, or hair loss condition such as alopecia.
Baby Hair 2-5 Years
Hair appears stronger, darker, and thicker than before, settling into your child’s natural follicle structure, whether this is straight and fine or curly/wavy.
These are now their adult hairs that will continue shedding and growing as normal.
Sometime after their 3rd birthday, your child’s hair will turn progressively darker before settling on their permanent hair color by around age 5, according to Healthline.
During this period, bouts of hair loss are perfectly normal as some toddlers have a habit of pulling on their hair. Wearing hair in tight braids or ponytails may also cause hair loss in some areas of the scalp.
At 5 years of age, both my boys still had thin, silky-soft, straight hair. Over the next few years, it changed dramatically, and today they both have very thick hair, but one sports natural curls!
Baby Hair Color Change
Baby hair color is determined from conception once the mother and father’s chromosomes are combined.
On the surface, your baby’s hair will go through many shades before settling into its permanent color. It may go from dark brown to blond or red to light/medium blond.
Why Do Babies Lose Their Hair?
Jenny Leach of BabyCentre UK explains:
“During pregnancy, hormones made your hair thicker and stopped it from shedding at its normal rate.
These hair-boosting hormones also reached your unborn baby through the placenta. But after birth, levels of these hormones in your baby’s body drop, and the hair boost wears off.”
Friction during sleep and cradle cap also contribute to infant hair loss.
When Does Baby Hair Grow Back After Falling Out?
The rate at which new hair growth forms is individual to every child, but typically, baby hair begins to grow back between 6 and 12 months after the loss of newborn hair.
How To Make Baby Hair Grow Thicker
You can support your baby’s hair growth by:
- Giving them nutritious food (rich in zinc, protein, vitamins A, B, and D)
- Shampooing their hair twice weekly
- Handling it gently (i.e., drying with soft towels and using a soft brush or your fingers to detangle knots)
- Providing weather protection in the form of sun hats to keep harsh heat and outdoor pollution out of their delicate hair)
Much online advice suggests massaging the scalp using oils, but this is a myth and a dangerous one too.
“Massaging with oil can harm the development of the skull, which is still so soft and flexible” warns hair expert and cosmetologist Ghanima Abdullah.
To encourage healthy baby hair, pediatrician Dr. Candice Jones advises simply “brushing the hair using gentle products as part of general hair care is important to ease detangling, which can lead to breakage.”
How To Prevent Baby Hair Loss
Due to the natural shedding process and hormonal changes, baby hair loss is natural and can’t be avoided, but being gentle during brushing and bath time can help prevent excessive hair loss.
Pediatricians also advise plenty of tummy time throughout the day to reduce friction on the back of the head.
How To Prevent Baby From Losing Hair on Back of Head
Consider switching to silk sheets as your little one’s bedding may be too rough, contributing to greater friction at the back of their head.
Mom of three Abigail Benton of The Little Silk recommends brushing before bed, avoiding harsh chemicals, and trying alternate napping positions.
When Do Babies Get a Full Head of Hair?
Most babies will develop what will be their mature head of hair between 6 and 12 months old.
Depending on their genetics and permanent hair type (straight, curly, wavy, etc.), your baby’s hair follicles will grow at their own pace, and it may take up to 18 to 24 months for some to grow their big-kid hair.
Where Do You Get Your Hair Genes From?
Hair genes are inherited from the chromosomes received from both parents (23 from each). This collection of DNA passes on instructions about what hair traits a child is likely to have, and the results can often be surprising.
This is why, for example, dark-haired parents may produce a fair-haired child due to an unexpressed blond hair gene.
To sum up, your baby’s hair texture and color go through many changes during the first few months and may still not be definitive until they are close to 2 years of age when the terminal hair follicles mature.
Whether thick and voluminous or fine and thin, your baby’s hair will do its own beautiful thing as it sheds and regrows.
Just be sure to speak to your pediatrician if hair growth is sparse or nonexistent after their second birthday as this may point to an underlying hormonal imbalance, dietary issue, or other health condition.
Rebecca is a seasoned copywriter and researcher with over a decade of experience, specializing in parenting topics. With a passion for all aspects of raising children, from breastfeeding to potty training.