Cradle cap can look really unpleasant, but there's no need to panic, your baby won't even know it's there. And with a cradle cap shampoo, you can help to alleviate the symptoms.
It's an extremely common skin condition in babies between the ages of 6 and 12 months, and it's easy to treat. It presents as dry, flaky patches on the scalp, but it can occasionally appear on your baby's eyebrows and nose and can appear oily.
While most cradle cap clears up on its own, a little encouragement from the right shampoo can help treat cradle cap.
Here are our picks of shampoos that are great for helping to clear up cradle cap, but are also gentle on delicate skin. We know how sensitive babies' skin is, so the right product is important to take care of them.
How does cradle cap shampoo work?
Regularly washing your baby's hair with a cradle cap shampoo or a mild baby shampoo can help to loosen scaly patches to improve the appearance. It can also help to remove excess oil from your baby's scalp.
Washing your baby's hair once a day will help to remove scales and prevent more from building up. Once the cradle cap appears to have cleared, wash your little one's hair every two to three days to prevent it from resurfacing.
What to look for in cradle cap shampoo
The last thing you want to do is cause further irritation, so it's important to look for mild baby shampoo. They'll have diluted pH and surfactant levels compared to regular shampoos. Look for natural ingredients instead of artificial fragrances or harsh chemicals, and those suitable for sensitive skin. Perfect for caring for your little one's soft and delicate scalp.
If this doesn't work for a few weeks, you may want to ask your chemist for a special cradle cap treatment or consider visiting your GP.
The best cradle cap shampoos
Dentinox Cradle Cap Treatment Shampoo, 125ml
You've probably heard of Dentinox when it comes to colic drops, but their shampoo is well-loved by mums who swear by its use for helping cradle cap too. It's gentle enough to use as a general shampoo once your baby's cradle cap has cleared up, too. It was recommended by several mums in our #MumTribe group on Facebook.
Mum of two Kim Robertson-Hunt recommended it to us in #MumTribe, and said: "it is one of the most effective when used regularly and really lifts the cradle cap with regular use. I use a comb as well. It feels gentle to use on your baby but does the job!"
Childs Farm Strawberry and Mint Shampoo, 500ml
Best for scent
Made with more than 98 per cent naturally derived ingredients, this award-winning shampoo is suitable for sensitive and eczema-prone skin. This loved brand helps to reduce the cradle-cap appearance and has a lovely smell of strawberry and organic mint. Better yet, the wonderful fragrance won't irritate sensitive skin.
The Childs Farm skincare range has won numerous M&B Awards and has now been shortlisted for the 2022 Awards - check out our full review of the Childs Farm range here.
Tested by mum Katie for the M&B Awards 2022: "I love this product and would thoroughly recommend it to all mums. It's great for all skin types so makes it very versatile. You only need a small amount of product and it feels nice on my baby's skin. I like the variety of scents in the bubble bath and shampoo range and the shampoo doesn't irritate my toddler's eyes. The moisturiser is great on my daughter's dry skin, absorbs quickly, and doesn't irritate."
Tested by mum Harriet Poulton for the M&B Awards 2018: "The shampoo really helped clear up my baby's cradle cap, which was so helpful as I didn't need to buy any other special shampoo. There are some lovely mini sets available too which has made life so much easier when packing to go on holiday or even just to chuck in the changing bag to go swimming."
Mustela Nourishing Foam Shampoo Mousse, 150ml
Best cradle cap mousse
This tear-free mousse is extra gentle on sensitive skin and helps to prevent the appearance of cradle cap. It's made of an enriched formula with avocado and other natural ingredients, helping to strengthen your baby's skin barrier. With mild surfactants, it'll clean and respect your little one's scalp without attacking it.
Review: "I’m amazed how quickly this solved the cradle cap, really wished I’d found it earlier. Only needed to use it once really so passed the bottle on to another mum."
Laboratorios Babe Cradle Cap Shampoo, 200ml
This dermatology-approved shampoo is ideal for treating cradle cap. It cares for delicate skin, helping to eliminate cradle cap patches on your little one. Free from all irritable nasties, it also provides a shine and softness.
Review: "This product is definitely worth the money! It has sorted out our daughter's cradle cap, which she has had for 14 months. She has quite sensitive skin and hasn't had an issue with this product. We would highly recommend this product."
Weleda Baby Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash, 200ml
Best for all natural ingredients
This soap-free, vegan-friendly shampoo will be loved by parents. It's gentle on sensitive skin and delicately cleans and softens baby's hair. It contains eco-friendly detergents, with no synthetic ingredients, helping to soothe cradle cap patches and maintain the skin's moisture.
The Weleda Calendula Skincare range has been shortlisted three times in the M&B Awards: in 2019 in the Best Baby Skincare Range/Product category; in 2017 in the Best Natural Product category, and in 2014 in the Best Baby Skincare Range/Product category.
Tested by mum Caroline Hirst for the M&B Awards 2017: "I think this baby shampoo and body wash is lovely. It has an amazing smell of all the wonderful natural ingredients. It feels very soft on your skin and baby’s skin, plus my three-year-old also loves it and it has been great for her dry scalp and skin. It also leaves the skin feeling very clean but not stripped of the skin’s natural goodness."
Tested by mum Mary for the M&B Awards 2019: "The products are 100 per cent natural and designed for delicate skin so I would recommend them. I think the price may be a little too high but they are a good size and lasted a while. Weleda is a trusted brand and the products were good on my baby's skin. It would be a good starter for mums unsure of what to buy."
CeraVe Baby Wash & Shampoo, 237ml
Best tear-free cradle cap shampoo
This tear-free and pH balanced formula is suitable for newborns and helps to gently calm and clease your baby's skin and hair. Accepted by the National Eczema Association, it's free-from nasties and enriched with vitamin E to help moisturise. It'll help reinforce baby's skin barrier and soothe it at the same time.
Review: "Helped relieve some cradle cap. Also helped my toddler’s keratosis pilaris skin. The scent isn’t really strong which is great. Seems to be very moisturising because dry skin is no longer an issue. This is worth it."
Kokoso Baby Organic Shampoo, 200ml
Best for frangrance-free
This fragrance-free shampoo is packed with natural and nourishing ingredients, which help lovingly cleanse your baby's dry scalp and delicate hair. The organic ingredients also make it vegan-friendly and hypoallergenic, making it the ideal shampoo for little ones with sensitive and eczema-prone skin.
Review: "Such a brilliant product, soft and gentle on the girls' skin whilst getting them and their hair clean. Skin feels so good after the bath too. Brilliant wash for newborns too - would highly recommend, and brilliant it's now available on here too!"
Johnson's Baby Cottontouch Hair & Scalp Oil, 300ml
Best oil for cradle cap
Johnson's hair and scalp oil is blended with real cotton and is specially designed for a newborn babies' delicate, sensitive skin. Leave it in your baby's hair for about five minutes, then comb through. It's not a shampoo but comes recommended by real mums.
This was recommended by mum Jessica Gale in our #MumTribe group on Facebook; she said: "It's a godsend!"