Essential Oils for Babies and Children: Cradle Cap

What is it?

Cradle cap is a build up of oil and dead skin cells on the scalp. It resembles dandruff, and can be white or yellow in color. It is not painful, and can be caused by overproduction of oil (which can be caused by genetics, use of alcohol on the scalp, or yeast imbalance).

What do you need to treat it?

  • Brush
  • Shampoo (you can make your own if you like, but I prefer to just add essential oils to a good shampoo)
  • Oil (optional – coconut, jojoba, or sweet almond)
  • Infant probiotics (if you suspect yeast imbalance)

Essential Oils used to treat it: Tea tree oil and lavender

Recipe: Add one drop of tea tree and one drop of lavender (or more if appropriate according to the EO Concentration Recommendations by Age chart) to 2 Tbsp carrier oil.  Mix well.

I prefer to use jojoba oil for this recipe, although other carriers also work. Jojoba is very similar to the sebum produced by the skin, and since cradle cap is a result of buildup of oils and dead skin cells, using jojoba can signal the scalp to stop producing so much.

When I first used coconut oil for this, it worked quite well (and the baby smelled amazing!). It took a few days to make an improvement, and when I took a couple days off from doing the oil part of the treatment, the cradle cap came right back. When I used jojoba, his scalp was so soft and nourished and the cradle cap was gone after just a few treatments. I do maintenance treatments sometimes (he likes the massage), and also if I see signs of the cradle cap returning, I just do the oil treatment for a few days.


  1. Massage oil mixture into scalp for about a minute.
  2. After 15 minutes, gently brush scalp with very soft bristled brush (optional)
  3. Wash hair (after lathering with shampoo, brush scalp lightly before rinsing)
  4. Repeat once a day


Note: You can wash hair with a store bought baby shampoo, but check the ingredients to make sure they’re all mild. Once you find a great baby shampoo (we use California Baby), put 4 Tbsp of it into a small glass jar and add 2 drops of tea tree oil and 2 drops of lavender to it. Mix well, and use to wash baby’s hair. It’s fine to use this shampoo everyday.


*DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor and these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Any products or techniques mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

3 thoughts on “Essential Oils for Babies and Children: Cradle Cap”

  1. Thank you so much for this article. After a weekend of camping that involved lots of sunblock and sweating my 1-year-old ended up with quite the case of cradle cap. As a first time mom I had no idea how to get rid of it. I tried the oils you suggested and the brush and got great results. I used coconut oil, since I already had it on hand, and oils from Better Essentials ( which is my favorite brand, and they did a great job. I was very careful not to get the mixture in my son’s eyes. After a few treatments it was practically all gone.

  2. Also, it looks like Better Essentials has a great promo code right now, WELCOME, which will get you 40% off your order. Great quality plus great price and a awesome discount. Doesn’t get much better! Thanks again!-

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