10 best shampoos for cradle cap in babies and toddlers

10 Best Shampoos for Cradle Cap in Babies and Toddlers

In Dandruff Shampoos by AlexaLeave a Comment

Babies and toddlers are more prone to cradle cap in their first three months than after. Cradle cap is also known as baby dandruff and appears like yellowish, greasy and scaly rashes on your infant’s scalp. 

Cradle cap is not dangerous, so you don’t need to panic, however it’s always good to treat the condition as early as possible. It’s important that you pick an appropriate shampoo for your baby as common anti-dandruff shampoos often contain harsh chemicals and are not appropriate. This article will highlight the 10 best cradle cap shampoos for babies and toddlers that are on the market today

Out of the 10 best cradle cap shampoos, here are the top 4. For detailed reviews of all, please continue down the article. 

What is Cradle Cap?​

In essence, cradle cap is seborrheic dermatitis that affects infants. Sometimes it’s referred to as milk crust or even pityriasis capitis. Most people call it either cradle cap or infantile seborrheic dermatitis. This condition is easily spotted, as your baby’s scalp will appear to have yellowish flaky scales on the scalp. 

The skin on your toddlers scalp will often be inflamed and very sensitive [1]. As a parent, it’s only natural to panic and to worry about our baby or toddler, especially when confronted with skin conditions such as cradle cap. Even though it may seem hard to do, but you needn’t panic. Cradle cap is not contagious and it’s also not dangerous. In fact, you can effectively treat it using the right products. 

I want you to first understand a little bit more about cradle cap before I recommend the best shampoos to treat it. Below are some images on what cradle cap looks like in babies and toddlers. The occurrence of cradle cap is not that uncommon. It affects around 10% of infants up to the ages of 1 month, around 70% by 3 months and around 7% of infants up to 2 years old.

What Causes Cradle Cap?​

Cradle cap can be caused by a number of things. In fact, most doctors and researches can’t pinpoint the exact cause, but have done extensive research to suggest the following causes [2]:

  • Over-active sebaceous glands
  • Genetics
  • Insufficient fatty acids
  • Infrequent shampooing
  • Biotin deficiency

The most common cause for cradle cap is when the sebaceous glands in your toddler’s skin are over-producing natural scalp oils (also known as sebum). This causes the sebum to react with the yeast-like fungus (Malassezia) on their scalp, which causes an inflamed reaction and scaly, yellowish flakes [3]. This cause is also classified as infantile seborrheic dermatitis. 

Other causes include genetics, insufficient fatty acids, infrequent or improper shampooing and biotin deficiencies. 

What's the Difference Between Babies and Toddlers?

Many people get confused when looking for a cradle cap shampoo that suits their infant. Often times parents use kids or adult products on their babies assuming that they are appropriate. This is not the case and can actually cause your baby or infant some serious harm.

It’s therefore important to understand at what age your infant is actually a baby and a toddler. According to consensus, your child is a baby from 0 to 12 months and a toddler from 1 to  3 years [4].

This article will focus on cradle cap shampoos for babies and toddlers, meaning that the recommended shampoos are appropriate for ages 0 to 36 months (0 to 3 years). The reason why this is important is that some shampoos (especially for kids, teens, and adults) may contain chemicals which can be detrimental to your infant’s skin. Therefore, it’s necessary to select a cradle cap shampoo that is natural and gentle on your baby’s scalp. This article will show you which shampoos are most appropriate for infants that are 0 to 36 months (0 to 3 years) of age.

babies are 0 - 12 months old

Cradle Cap Shampoo Reviews

One of the best ways to get rid of cradle cap in babies and toddlers is to use an effective and gentle shampoo. It’s very important to use an appropriate shampoo and not just any type of anti-dandruff shampoo, as your baby’s scalp is very sensitive. Anti-dandruff shampoos for adults usually contain chemicals that will be too harsh for your toddler. 

I’ve had many close friends who were dealing with cradle cap. Together with them, I have carefully tested out various different brands and types of shampoos. Over the years I have tested and reviewed which of them have been the most effective. Here are the 10 best cradle cap shampoos for toddlers. 

#1 - Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo & Body Wash

Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo & Body Wash is one of the most popular shampoos for treating babies and toddlers with cradle cap. It’s quite remarkable how effective this shampoo is in treating infantile dandruff.

The formula of the shampoo has been developed by a team of doctors and features pure and natural ingredients. Some of these ingredients include Himalayan pink sea salt, pink grapefruit essential oil, vegetable glycerin, natural botanical extract blend, and water among many others.

Puracy ensures that this product contains no allergens or irritants and is designed for infants with skin conditions such as eczema, scalp psoriasis, and cradle cap.

Containing only natural ingredients means that you don’t have to worry about any harsh chemicals such as sulfate, triclosan, parabens or even phosphates. Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo & Body Wash contains no harsh chemicals. Instead, it reacts gently on your baby’s scalp and skin.

An interesting feature of this cradle cap shampoo is that you can use this for your toddler’s scalp and body. The formula was developed as a 2-in-1 treatment, meaning it acts as a shampoo as well as a body wash. 

Even though it reads that its tear-free, try to generally keep shampoos and body washes out of your toddler’s eyes. There have been some reports of a mild but tolerable sting when coming in direct contact with eyes. Try to shield them when given them a bath. You may also enjoy the citrus smell of the shampoo and the freshness it brings to your little one. Using this shampoo regularly will ensure that your baby’s cradle cap is treated effectively. 

What I Like:

  • Contains no allergens and irritants
  • Trusted by Moms and doctors
  • Contains many natural ingredients
  • Acts as a shampoo & body Wash
  • Fresh citrus scent

What I Don’t Like:

  • Mild sting in eyes with direct contact

#2 - Mustela Cradle Cap Foam Shampoo

Mustela Cradle Cap Foam Shampoo is also one of the most effective shampoos on the market for your toddler’s cradle cap. This shampoo is designed to cleanse and treat your baby’s scalp from cradle cap. The ingredients of the shampoo are 99% plant-based, natural and Paraben-free. 

It also contains natural avocado perseose, a patented natural active ingredient by Mustela, which enhances the skin’s barrier functions and preserves the health of cells.

The shampoo is designed to be very gentle for your toddler’s sensitive skin and is made of a tear-free formula that contains no soap. It will soften the cradle cap flakes on your baby’s scalp, as they will slowly exfoliate. Additionally, Mustela’s formula prevents cradle cap from reoccurring and minimizes the risk of allergic reactions.  

You will notice that this shampoo consists of a light and airy foam. The shampoo has an ideal texture for your toddler’s skin, as it’s extremely sensitive. The foam is designed to make the application and massaging comfortable and gentle. 

You don’t need to use a soft brush, as the foam can be easily spread around your infant’s scalp. Just ensure that you leave it on for a few minutes before you gently rinse it off with water. To date, Mustela’s Cradle Cap Foam Shampoo is one of the most gentle and effective shampoos on the market to treat cradle cap. 

What I Like:

  • Shampoo is a light and airy foam
  • Contains 99% natural ingredients
  • It's mildly exfoliating
  • Features a tear-free formula

What I Don’t Like:

  • It has a slightly strong scent

#3 - Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Baby Shampoo

Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Baby Shampoo is another great shampoo to treat cradle cap in babies and toddlers. This shampoo comes in an 8 ounce (237 ml) bottle and is full of natural and organic ingredients. To be more specific, it contains oatmeal, vitamin E, organic shea butter, aloe vera, organic flower extracts, amino acids and pharmaceutical grade tea tree oil. 

Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Baby Shampoo is also hypoallergenic, sulfate-free, paraben-free and bottled in the USA. The shampoo is a lightly scented liquid that easily foams when massaging your toddler’s scalp. It’s highly effective against cradle cap as the ingredients have antifungal properties. 

However, don’t be alarmed initially as when you first use this shampoo on your baby, it may seem that the flaking has gotten worse. This is normal, as your baby’s scalp dries up and the skin appears flakier. But just after a few washes you will notice that most of the dry cradle cap flakes have disappeared leaving your toddler’s scalp healthy and free of dandruff. 

This shampoo is definitely one of the most effective shampoos for cradle cap. I definitely recommend this for any baby or toddler with infantile dandruff. 

What I Like:

  • It contains many natural ingredients
  • Features an aromatic scent
  • Contains a tear-free formula
  • It's sulfate and paraben-free

What I Don’t Like:

  • The bottle is often not too durable
  • Results can take a while before they become visible

#4 - Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo

Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo is another great choice of shampoos. It comes in a standard 8 ounce (237 ml) bottle and is a medicated shampoo that treats flaking, itching, redness, scaling, and irritation caused by cradle cap.

This shampoo can also be used as a body wash for infants of all ages. It contains an FDA approved active ingredient called pyrithione zinc. Pyrithione zinc is fungistatic, meaning it inhibits fungal growth. In other words, it stops cradle cap from growing.

Additional ingredients include licorice extract among a few others that aid in relieving the inflammation at the same time moisturizing your baby’s scalp. Another great feature of this shampoo and body wash is that it’s fragrance-free, dye-free, paraben-free, sulfate-free and has been thoroughly tested by dermatologists. 

Using the Happy Cappy shampoo on your toddler will effectively remove cradle cap in a few washers. If the dandruff flakes are stubborn, it can take around a week to see some results. All in all, this shampoo and body wash works great against infantile seborrheic dermatitis and prevents it from recurring if used regularly.

What I Like:

  • The formula has been clinically tested
  • It contains pyrithione zinc
  • It's paraben and sulfate-free
  • Acts as a 2-in-1 shampoo & body wash

What I Don’t Like:

  • Results can take a while before they become visible

#5 - Phargin Naturals Cradle Cap Shampoo

Phargin Naturals Cradle Cap Shampoo is formulated with a blend of high-quality natural ingredients to treat your toddler’s cradle cap effectively. It’s made in the USA and is available in two different sizes. There is an 8 ounce (237 ml) and a 16 ounce (473 ml) bottle for you to choose from.

It features a natural blend of tea tree oil, argan oil, avocado oil, jojoba oil, almond oil, coconut oil, Camellia seed oil. These oils have antifungal, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, ensuring that your toddler’s scalp is free of dry flakes and inflamed skin patches. Additionally, the natural ingredients will also have a soothing effect on their scalp while moisturizing the skin and providing a protective barrier.

It’s recommended to only use a quarter-sized amount of this shampoo at least twice a week to see optimal results. It’s common for some shampoos to have a thin consistency, as they are watered down. This shampoo feels more concentrated than others, meaning that you only need to use small portions on your baby.

Your little one will appreciate the gentle texture of this shampoo as the keratin repairs the cracked and rough skin caused by cradle cap.

What I Like:

  • Features a blend of many natural oils
  • Contains a concentrated and thick consistency
  • It protects your infant's hair & scalp
  • Also repairs cracked skin

What I Don’t Like:

  • The shampoo can sometimes leave the scalp slightly dry

#6 - Lil Leona I Am Happy Bath and Body Wash

Lil Leona I Am Happy Bath and Body Wash comes in a 16 ounce (473 ml) 1-pack or 2-pack arrangement and is another great and effective shampoo for treating cradle cap. It contains no harsh chemicals, parabens, phosphates or sulfates. The use of no harsh chemicals means that the shampoo is extremely gentle on your baby’s or toddlers skin.  

A special feature of Lil Leona’s shampoo is that you can use this as a 3-in-1 solution. You can use this product as a body wash, shampoo, and bubble bath. This makes it a very versatile and convenient solution. I’ve often found myself juggling in between a separate shampoo, conditioner and body wash. Having everything in one bottle is much more practical and convenient. 

This shampoo is packed with coconut oil, vitamin B, vitamin E, comfrey leaf extract, calendula extract, chamomile flower extract, lemon balm extract and many more natural ingredients. It’s also vegan and gluten free due to its organic nature. 

The shampoo is available either with a calendula fragrance or fragrance-free. I would personally go for the calendula fragrance, as it’s a very natural and pleasant smell.

What I Like:

  • Option to pick with calendula fragrance or fragrance-free
  • It's a 3-in-1 body wash, shampoo and bubble bath
  • It contains all natural and organic ingredients

What I Don’t Like:

  • The scent can appear overwhelming for some

#7 - Babo Botanicals Moisturizing Baby Shampoo and Wash

Babo Botanicals Moisturizing Baby Shampoo and Wash is also a great product for treating cradle cap. It contains many natural and organic ingredients that are gentle on your toddler’s skin. In total, there are 3 bottle sizes. You can pick from an 8 ounce (237 ml), a 16 ounces (473 ml), or a 32 ounces (946 ml) bottle. 

It contains calendula flower extract which has anti-inflammatory properties healing damaged and irritated skin. The oat milk soothes affected areas of cradle cap and eczema. Together with the other ingredients, this shampoo is rich in vitamin and anti-oxidants. Your baby will appreciate the gentle soothing effect on its skin.

Like a few other cradle cap products, this can be used as a shampoo and a body wash at the same time, as it contains no harsh chemicals. In fact, no synthetic colors or fragrances are used. It’s also dairy, soy and gluten-free and is allergy tested. 

Even though this product has been tested by dermatologists and is advertised as tear-free, ensure that you try to keep this out of your toddler’s eyes. There have been some remarks about a mild sting (although still tolerable) when coming into direct contact with eyes. 

Babo Botanicals Moisturizing Baby Shampoo and Wash is a gentle plant-based cleanser that works effectively against your infant’s cradle cap effectively. 

What I Like:

  • It's dairy, soy and gluten-free
  • Formula contains no synthetic colors or fragrances
  • It's a 2-in-1 shampoo & body wash
  • Shampoo is dermatologist tested

What I Don’t Like:

  • To some the scent may appear a little strange
  • It's no as tear-free as other shampoos

#8 - Elizabeth Parker Cradle Cap Treatment Scrub

Elizabeth Parker Cradle Cap Treatment Scrub is packed with powerful and natural ingredients to effectively treat cradle cap. It comes in either a 4 ounce (118 ml) or an 8 ounce (237 ml) bottle.

Natural ingredients such as aloe vera, manuka honey, lemon fruit extract, cehami, sugar cane extract, sugar maple extract, walnut shell powder give the shampoo formula a very organic yet effective blend. They ensure that your infant’s scalp is supplied with enough nutrients, while its many healing agents ensure that the scalp is well repaired and protected.

It contains no harsh exfoliants, such as salts, sugars, and nutshells. It’s also paraben, alcohol, and sulfate-free. You can also rest assured that any inflamed areas on your baby’s or toddler’s scalp will experience a soothing sensation, due to the antibacterial and antiseptic properties of the ingredients.

This product is excellent for babies with cradle cap, eczema, dry scalp, psoriasis, acne and flaking skin, as the shampoo contains tiny exfoliating beads. These beads gently dry layers of skin off your toddler’s scalp at the same time hydrating the skin layers and providing it with the much-needed nutrients to stay healthy. Even though the Elizabeth Parker Naturals Baby Scrub is on the more expensive side, the benefits are undeniable positive.

What I Like:

  • The formula is paraben, alcohol and sulfate-free
  • It helps with many skin conditions
  • Contains a blend of many natural and organic oils

What I Don’t Like:

  • Marketed as a premium product

#9 - CeraVe Baby Wash & Shampoo

CeraVe Baby Wash & Shampoo was developed with dermatologists and is officially featured by the National Eczema Association. It comes in a standard 8 ounce (237 ml) bottle, which is made in the United States. 

This shampoo is free of parabens, sulfates, and phthalates and is designed for infants, as it is tear-free and extremely gentle on the scalp. It’s great for treating cradle cap as it contains 3 essential ceramides. Ceramides are lipid molecules that hold skin cells together. Additionally, it forms a protective layer on your baby’s and toddler’s skin while retaining moisture preventing dry skin.

CeraVe created a formula that is vitamin enriched which helps to moisturize your toddler’s scalp. As their skin is very sensitive, the hypoallergenic shampoo ensures that it causes no allergic reactions and is gentle on the skin. 

Once you use it on your baby you will realize that this shampoo foams very well. In fact, it will foam almost immediately after applying it on the scalp. Make sure that the shampoo completely lathers before massaging their scalp. 

What I Like:

  • It's a 2-in-1 shampoo & body wash
  • Formula contains 3 essential ceramides
  • Shampoo was developed with dermatologists

What I Don’t Like:

  • Marketed as a premium product

#10 - Mee Beauty Baby Mee Bee Gentle Wash & Shampoo

Mee Beauty Baby Mee Bee Gentle Wash & Shampoo is another great and effective product to treat cradle cap. It’s made in the United States and comes in a single or double 8 ounce (237 ml) pack. The word ‘mee’ translates into ‘honey’ in English, as it’s the main natural ingredient for this shampoo.

You will find that the shampoo has a very gentle texture that is designed to treat your baby’s dry scalp, eczema, and cradle cap. As this is a 2-in-1 tear-free formula, you can use this as a shampoo and as a body wash for your toddler. 

The main ingredient of Baby Mee Bee Gentle is honey. Honey relieves the itching sensation on your baby’s body and scalp while keeping it moisturized. It’s also noteworthy that honey contains vital mineral and has antibacterial properties to keep you infants scalp healthy and full of nutrients. The other ingredients such as aloe vera leaf juice contain hundreds of active enzymes that have the ability to soothe inflamed areas of skin. Chamomile and calendula extracts repair damaged skin. They also treat dry and rough patches of cradle cap on your toddler’s scalp. 

The manufacturer also donates 1% of all sales to charities that educate kids on pollinators, how to grow food, and eat healthily. That’s a very nice and noble touch, which I personally support!

What I Like:

  • It's a 2-in-1 shampoo & body wash
  • Shampoo contains many natural ingredients
  • It repairs and protects damaged skin
  • 1% of sales are donated to charity

What I Don’t Like:

  • Flowery fragrance appears to be too strong for some
  • The shampoo take a while to lather

How to Use Cradle Cap Shampoos

It’s important to know how to use a cradle cap shampoo on your toddler correctly. A baby’s skin is very sensitive an brittle, therefore you cannot treat it the same as yours. I have created a step-by-step guide below that you can follow closely. 

Please make sure that you don’t take any shortcuts, as every step is vital to ensure your toddler’s cradle cap is dealt with most effectively. If you follow these steps using an effective shampoo, you will be able to get rid of your baby’s cradle cap in no time!

Step 1 - Preparation

It’s vital to prepare everything you need before you start giving your baby or toddler his or her much-needed shower. The ideal temperature of the water should be around 100°F (37 – 38°C). If you don’t have a thermometer, you can use your fingers or elbows to check. The water should feel warm, not hot. Please make sure that you are using only the best quality cradle cap shampoo to make sure it’s completely safe and effective for your baby.

To avoid leaving your baby unaccompanied in the tub, while grabbing the towel that you may have forgotten, I’ve created a checklist of items to bring. 

  • Portable bathtub
  • Cradle cap shampoo
  • Soft towel
  • Baby-friendly brush and comb
  • Small pale

Step 2 - Application

Now it’s time to gently rinse down your toddler with warm water. Make sure that you cover all areas so then when you apply the bath wash and shampoo, the solution will easily lather.

If you have chosen a product that acts as a shampoo and bath wash at the same time you can start washing your baby’s body first. If your cradle cap shampoo is only meant for the scalp, then use a separate bath wash. After your toddler has been washed, gently rinse the bath wash off with the warm water from the tub.  

Now, it’s time for the shampoo to do its magic! Apply a small handful of shampoo onto your toddler’s scalp. Make sure that you try to apply it evenly and ensure that their eyes are covered, to avoid discomfort. 

Step 3 - Massaging

Now, use a specialized brush and gently run it across your toddler’s scalp. I recommend that you get a high-quality brush with rubber bristles. Anything else would be too harsh for a baby’s scalp. If you don’t have any appropriate brush, use a soft towel or your fingertips. 

Massage your toddler’s scalp for several minutes. The shampoo should immediately turn into foam. Make sure that you cover all areas of the scalp. You will slowly see the cradle cap scales slowly drop off and dissolve. Make sure that you do not apply too much pressure and do not tear or scrub them off vigorously. 

It’s completely normal that not all the scales come off during the first wash. Sometimes it can take a few days to see noticeable results. It can even take up to a few weeks for cradle cap to be completely treated. 

Safety 1st Cradle Cap Brush and Comb

You should consider using a specialised brush for your toddler, as their skin is very sensitive. Soft bristles made out of high-grade rubber ensure to loosen the cradle cap flakes.

Step 4 - Rinsing

After the message, it’s now time to rinse your little one. Simple take the small pale and gently rinse the dry scales and shampoo off the scalp. 

Again, make sure that you do not remove the scales with force, they will eventually come off naturally. Cover the eyes, as you don’t want the shampoo to get into contact with them. Even though some cradle cap shampoos are advertised as tear-free, better be safe than sorry. 

Once you are done rinsing, lift your baby gently and dry them off with a soft towel. Gently tap the scalp and make sure that the head and body are completely dry before you wrap the towel around. 

Congratulations, you now know how to properly use a cradle cap shampoo for your baby or toddler!

Video Tutorial on Removing Cradle Cap

If you need visual guidance on how to use a cradle cap shampoo or how to remove cradle cap please watch the video below.

Conclusion

Finding the best cradle cap shampoo for your toddler is very important. The shampoos that have made it onto this list have been tried and tested personally among friends and family. 

My all-time favorite pick is Puracy Natural Baby Shampoo & Body Wash. Every family I have referred this to have had excellent results with this and in turn are very happy to see their babies and toddlers without cradle cap. Of course, there are several other cradle cap shampoos that each have their own set of strengths. 

My advice is to test which one is the best for your child. I hope that you have enjoyed this article and that it was helpful for you and your little one. This article will be updated regularly, so check back every now and then.

About the Author

Alexa

My name is Alexa and I have had dandruff for more than 15 years now. I am the chief editor of this website and have committed the most part of my life in research on everything related to dandruff. I wish to share all my knowledge and experience.

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