Have you ever wondered why some babies are born with a full head of hair while others remain bald for months? The mysteries of baby hair growth captivate many parents, especially those curious about how to make baby hair grow. The truth is, the patterns and pace at which a baby’s hair develops are largely determined by genetics. From the thickness and color to the overall growth rate, inherited genes play a crucial role in shaping your baby’s unique hair characteristics.

Basics of Baby Hair Growth

Hair Growth Phases

Just like adults, babies’ hair goes through different phases. Imagine a garden where plants grow, rest, and then shed their leaves before starting anew. Baby hair operates in a similar cycle.

  • Anagen (Growth Phase): This is when the hair actively grows. For babies, this phase can be quite short compared to adults.
  • Catagen (Transitional Phase): Here, hair growth slows down, and the follicle shrinks.
  • Telogen (Resting Phase): The hair stops growing and eventually falls out, making room for new hair to grow.

Newborn Hair Types

Babies can be born with different types of hair. Some might have lanugo, which is fine, soft hair that usually sheds before birth but can linger for a short while. After lanugo, babies develop vellus hair, which is thin and unpigmented. Eventually, they grow terminal hair, which is thicker and more pigmented.

Typical Growth Patterns

Most parents notice that their baby’s hair grows in spurts. It might seem like there’s a lot of growth, then a pause. This is normal! Some babies might even lose their initial hair completely before new hair starts to grow in.

Genetic Factors Influencing Hair Growth

Inheritance Patterns

When it comes to hair growth, we can look to family traits. Think of it as a hand-me-down sweater that fits just right because it was tailored for your family. The traits for hair thickness, color, and growth rate are passed down from parents to children through genes.

Key Genes Involved

Several genes play a part in determining hair characteristics. For example, the FGFR2 and EDAR genes influence hair thickness and texture. If both parents have thick hair, there’s a good chance their baby will too. On the flip side, if both have fine hair, the baby is likely to inherit that trait.

Variations by Ethnicity

Genetic diversity across different ethnic groups results in a variety of hair types and growth patterns. For instance, Asian babies often have straight, thick hair, while African babies may have tightly curled hair. These differences are rooted in the genetic variations specific to each ethnic group.

Genetic Conditions Affecting Hair Growth

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is a condition where the immune system mistakenly attacks hair follicles, causing hair loss. It’s quite rare in infants but can happen. If you notice patchy hair loss, it’s a good idea to consult a pediatrician.

Congenital Atrichia

Congenital atrichia is an even rarer condition where babies are born without hair and never grow any due to a genetic mutation. While it might be alarming, it’s important to remember that this condition is very uncommon.


Hypotrichosis refers to having less hair than usual. This could mean very sparse hair growth or extremely fine hair that doesn’t grow much. Again, this is genetically determined and varies widely.

curled hair

Environmental and Epigenetic Influences

Prenatal Environment

While genetics play a big role, the environment during pregnancy also matters. A healthy diet, good prenatal care, and avoiding stress can positively influence your baby’s hair growth. Think of it as providing rich soil for a plant to grow strong and healthy.


Epigenetics involves changes in gene expression influenced by environmental factors, without altering the DNA itself. For instance, a mother’s nutrition and stress levels during pregnancy can impact how certain genes function in the baby, including those involved in hair growth.

Postnatal Factors

After birth, factors like nutrition, hygiene, and overall health continue to affect hair growth. Ensuring your baby gets enough vitamins and minerals, keeping the scalp clean, and maintaining good health can support healthy hair growth.

Practical Implications for Parents

Expectation Management

It’s natural to wonder how to make baby hair grow faster or thicker, but it’s important to remember that every baby is different. Genetics play a major role, and there’s a wide range of normal when it comes to baby hair growth. Some babies might take longer to grow their hair, and that’s perfectly okay.

When to Seek Medical Advice

If you notice unusual hair loss, bald patches, or if your baby’s hair seems very sparse for their age, it might be worth discussing with a pediatrician. While most variations are normal, some could indicate an underlying condition that needs attention.

Care Tips

Here are a few simple tips to help you care for your baby’s hair:

  • Gentle Washing: Use a mild baby shampoo and avoid washing too frequently to prevent drying out the scalp.
  • Soft Brushing: Use a soft brush to gently detangle your baby’s hair.
  • Nutrition: Ensure your baby is getting a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals.
  • Avoid Tight Hairstyles: If your baby has longer hair, avoid styles that pull tightly on the hair and scalp.