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Baby Hair Care 101

While some babies are born with lustrous heads of locks, others are welcomed into the world with only a few tiny wisps. Either way, as a new parent you may be overwhelmed by the plethora of baby shampoos and washes on the market or unsure of how and when you're supposed to wash your little one's delicate tendrils. Rest easy, new mama: As a general rule, baby hair requires minimal -- albeit special -- care.

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Less is More

Unlike the hair of toddlers and preschoolers, which can be blended with everything from mud to paste to spaghetti sauce, baby hair requires minimal care, as it rarely gets dirty. According to AskDrSears.com, shampooing a baby's hair once a week is usually sufficient. If you clean her hair more often, you might irritate the scalp by stripping it of its natural oils, which protect the skin.

Keep it Simple

In any store's baby products aisle, new parents are inundated with choices: Scented or unscented? All-natural or conventional? A combination shampoo and wash, or two separate products? While what you use on your baby is a personal choice, AskDrSears.com recommends unscented products with as few additives as possible, as scented products can mask that delicious newborn baby smell, and can even prevent a baby from recognizing his mother's scent. As your baby's hair grows, you may be tempted to use products to tame tangles or cowlicks. If so, stick to products that are chemical-free or organic when possible.

Master the Technique

When it comes to bathing your tot, technique is everything. Until your baby's umbilical cord falls off, you'll want to stick to sponge baths, in which you can run a washcloth through his hair for quick cleaning. Once he is able to take a tub bath, you'll be able to thoroughly wash his hair, but to ensure he doesn't get cold and uncomfortable, proceed quickly. Gently massage -- don't scrub -- a small dab of shampoo onto his scalp. When you're ready to rinse, place your hand across his forehead to shield his eyes from the suds. After his bath, wrap him a warm towel and cover his head.

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Conquering Cradle Cap

If your baby has cradle cap, a crusty and oily buildup that appears on the scalp, you'll want to take special precautions. Although it typically doesn't bother babies, you don't want to use products that will exacerbate or irritate your baby's scalp. According to AskDrSears.com, an anti-dandruff shampoo can be helpful. You may also rub olive oil into the scalp, let it sit for 15 to 30 minutes, and then wash it out with a gentle shampoo. Contact your pediatrician if it doesn't clear up after a few weeks or if your baby's scalp shows signs of infection.

Image via James Woodson/Digital Vision/Getty Images

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