Parents often get their baby’s hair shaved in the hopes that their baby’s hair will grow back thicker and healthier than before. In some cultures, this is a rite of passage, so parents do it to honour their traditional values. But regardless of the reasons, does shaving a baby’s head promote hair growth? Or is it just a myth?
When is the shaving normally done?
Some parents shave their baby’s hair right after birth, while others prefer waiting until the two major soft spots on the top of the head called fontanels close up. Experts recommend waiting until the fontanels in their baby’s head has closed. That way your baby’s skull is hard and firm, making it much safer to shave.
Take Cukur Jambul for example which is widely practiced by the Malays. Parents are encouraged to shave their baby’s head within 7 days after they are born. Then the shaved hair is weighed against the price of gold or silver. This money is later donated to the poor.
For the Hindus, the Mundan is done anywhere when the baby is 1- 3 years of age, although it is commonly done when the baby is around 7, 9 or 11 months old. There are some Chinese families who also shave their baby’s hair after they Mun Yuet or fullmoon. It is believed that the hair that has grown in the womb needs to be removed so that new hair would grow back lush and thick.
So, depending on different cultures and ethnicities, the timing will also vary.
Tips to make the process easier
Some parents shave their baby’s hair at home on their own with some close relatives, while others enlist the help of elders or religious leaders. But to ensure a smooth process, here are tips that might help.
- Always make sure that your baby is well rested especially when you want them to be in a calm and happy state when you start to shave. Unless your baby is a night baby, shaving during daytime is a better bet.
- If your baby is relatively young and unable to sit, try swaddling them so that they feel comfortable and secure. You can also cradle him or her comfortably on your lap.
- Having toys nearby will help to distract your baby or you can also sing or talk to your baby to help him or her remain calm. You can also try feeding, or offering a pacifier to help your baby feel better.
- If your baby is blessed with a lot of hair that is long and thick, it will be best to cut the hair shorter first so that shaving is easier.
- Always shave in sections and only move to another section when the current section is done.
- Some parents dry shave while others prefer to lather their baby’s head with a gentle shampoo to make shaving more manageable.
- You need to bear in mind what you’ll be using to shave. For example, a razor tends to leave nicks and small cuts compared to using a trimmer.
- Always have someone on hand to clean the hair that falls on your baby’s face so that it doesn’t cause irritation or itching. A warm bath can help to get rid of all the other fallen hair all over the body.
- It is also good to apply a thin layer of moisturiser, coconut oil or antiseptic cream to any nicks and cuts on your baby’s head.
Does it really grow thicker?
Despite parents wanting healthier and thicker locks of hair for their babies, health experts are saying that there is no scientific proof that supports shaving a baby’s head will induce better hair growth.
It is important to note that the soft and light baby hair on your newborn’s head could be vellus hair. Most babies start losing this short, thin, light-colored, and barely noticeable hair around their fourth month where it gets replaced by mature hair. Also the texture and thickness of your child’s hair is highly dependent on genetics and has nothing to do with the shaving of his or her head.
In addition to that fact, hair grows from the hair follicles, so shaving presents no benefits nor does it harm or impact hair follicles in any way. Shaving might give the illusion of thicker hair, but only because the hair grows back more evenly and has blunt edges.
Still, the decision to shave your baby’s hair or not is still completely yours – whether it is to honour cultural traditions or to keep the families happy. There’s no need to argue with your elders, but know that shaving a baby’s hair to make it thicker is only a myth.