One of the highly searched terms on the krya website is baby hair oil. Well, we are a company that makes extremely well received adult hair oils and skin serums. So, it is no surprise that a concerned parent would want this same goodness for their babies in a baby hair oil.
So why should you, a concerned parent, spend time researching the best baby hair oil? Is there any merit in looking for a well formulated Ayurvedic baby hair oil? What are the benefits we must look for when looking for the best baby hair oil for our child?
Let’s dive into the Ayurvedic science behind a baby hair oil. Along the way, let us also look at the many risks of using chemical-laden, petroleum-based commercial baby oils that are widely sold today.
Brain development in baby : A few key insights
The amazing human brain has an even more amazing developmental path in a baby. There is a rapid development and expansion of the baby’s brain in the first year. The cerebral cortex swells by nearly 90% in the first year. The cells in the brain are also in the process of forming myriad complex connections and associations as babies piece together the stimuli they receive.
The baby’s brain at this stage is also extremely flexible and mouldable. As the baby puts on weight, some of the fat deposits received by the baby are used to slowly develop the fat based insulation around the nerve fibres in the brain called the myelin sheath.
During play with an adult, a baby’s brain literally “syncs” up with the adult especially when they are facing each other and the baby is able to observe the adults’ face well. The Princeton Baby research Lab studied real life face to face communication between adults and babies during playtime. The strongest activity occurred in the prefrontal cortex which is used is learning, planning and executive functioning. In fact, the researchers found that the infant and the adults brain formed a closed feedback loop. The infant brain was in fact ahead of the adults brain, suggesting that babies through eye contact ,sounds and gestures were leading adults in the play, guiding them towards what the babies wanted to do next.
The cerebral cortex is the largest part of the human brain, and it is this that sets human beings apart from our nearest ape relatives like the Chimpanzee. However the difference in the cortex is not any particular type of cell. The structure of the human cortex and the chimpanzee cortex are similar. The difference actually lies in the patterns / connections or the intricate synapses the individual human neuron is able to make within the first 3 years. At the baby’s birth , the brain contains 100 million neurons. This does not greatly increase in number by the time the baby becomes an adult.
But what increases are the synapses or the connections each individual neuron makes with the next . at birth each neuron has 2500 synapses or connections. These 2500 synapses grow to 15000 synapses per neuron. These synapses are built during the early formative years of a child , and most rapidly in the first 3 years of the child’s life.
This frenetic pace of activity is supported by a huge amount of energy and vitality required for an infant’s brain. In adults, the brain uses upto 20% of the body’s total energy availability, the highest among all organ systems. About 2/3rds of this energy is simply used to help neurons fire signals via electrical impulses through the brain. To prevent leaks of electricity, adults have a well-developed myelin sheath that insulates the electrical pathways.
However, in babies the myelin sheath is still not completely developed. Hence there is no fat layer to absorb the excess electricity / heat generated by the rapidly expanding synapses. This leads to a daily build up of vata and pitta energies in the baby’s head. To help ground this rapidly developing brain and support, calm and ground the baby, Ayurveda suggests daily head oiling in babies using an oil processed with calming, soothing, grounding and medhya ( intelligence) promoting herbs.
Ayurvedic Science: Benefits of using the correct baby hair oil
Hair oiling or head oiling is a Dinacharya we write often about at Krya. For adults, this Dinacharya is vital to keep pitta in balance, help calm and soothe the brain, allow excess heat that collects in the eyes to be released easily and also helps strengthen the skull bones and keep us in good cheer.
Besides these important benefits, regular head oiling helps stimulate the scalp, supports the natural sebum production, and nourishes the hair follicles so that hair growth is healthy and hair quality is good. The practice of head oiling also protects the hair strands from weathering and dryness, preventing split ends and hair breakage.
If an adult derives so many benefits from a head oil, can a baby be far behind?
Strengthening the head region and helping the fontanelle openings close properly
The Ayurvedic texts emphasise that regular head oiling is critical for baby to help strengthen the skull bones. In fact, regular body oiling is also suggested to help develop and harden and strengthen all bones and joints across the baby’s body.
Particularly in the skull, the texts mention the “Brahma randhra” or anterior fontanelle as a minute sookshma opening which slowly closes over at 18 months after birth. This is a small gap in the body, which is naturally present to allow easy delivery of the baby during birth. The minute gap between the 2 plates of the skull in this area helps allow the baby’s head to be squeezed through the birth canal with minimum pain for both mother and baby.
Hence, after childbirth, we are asked to use taila (oil) regularly to help harden and strengthen these soft bones and encourage proper closing of the fontanelle bones.
What herbs should be used in a baby head oil and why?
A baby hair oil must be very carefully formulated according to ayurvedic principles. From the background, we can understand that the purpose behind the head oil is manifold: we attempt to soothe, ground and support the brain in its critical growth phase.
We also attempt to strengthen the skull bones and assist the body as the fontanelle gap is closed. For any bone growth, Ayurveda tells us that vata dosha must be in optimum balance. Too little vata dosha means that there is not enough expansion and growth of bones. Too much vata dosha means that the bones are fragile and brittle and can easily fracture.
By regular application of oil with the right vata balancing herbs. We are able to keep vata dosha at the optimum level. This is why a regular body abhyanga is so useful to control vata dosha throughout the body and strengthen bone and joints. At Krya, we recommend regular Abhyanga for all healthy adults – it is especially helpful for those diagnosed with low bone density or women post menopause who are at risk from osteoporosis.
Pitta balancing herbs are also critical in a good baby hair oil. The activity of the brain generates high amount of electrical impulses which generates high heat. The activity of the eyes generate further pitta energy and heat as the baby takes in the stimuli around her.
As both the brain and the eyes are organs rooted in fatty matter / kapha, the Acharyas caution against letting too much pitta / heat energy build up in the head. Regular head oiling helps dissipate this stored heat keeping the eyes and the brain in god health. When eyes are over strained / over used without adequate rest or the right amount of head oiling, eye strain builds up eventually leading to weakened eye sight.
When the correct hair oil is applied to the head everyday, the stored pitta and vata excess energy is allowed to dissipate every day. The optimum balance of 3 doshas in the head is maintained leading to healthy scalp and healthy hair growth.
What base oils must be used to formulate an Ayurvedic baby hair oil and why?
Many new mothers reach out to us at Krya as they are confused with the information overload around them. Every few years there is a new trendy oil which is touted as a new miracle. 20 years ago, Olive Oil made inroads into India. An oil which was not native to India and which grew in the Mediterranean region and worked best with fatty meat based cuisine was introduced to Indian palates. Seeing the multipurpose use of traditional Indian oils like Mustard, sesame and coconut for topical application as well as eating, Olive oil importers touted Olive oil as a good substitute to traditional Indian oils for application.
We have written a much longer post on why we believe Olive oil is not a good oil for baby massage or application here. Given its astringent, shrinking and pungent taste, Olive oil lacks the madhura rasa (sweet grounding, nourishing taste) which the Acharyas recommend for baby hair and skin.
Traditionally cold pressed Sesame Oil and Coconut Oil are strongly recommended in Ayurveda for baby hair and skin. Even here, using the plain base oils without herbs is not recommended. We have written a post on why pain coconut oil alone is not a good choice for baby massage . The use of herbs in the oils enhances their natural properties, and corrects some of the properties we do not want like excessive coldness (mucous causing property) of coconut oil, and thereby renders it perfect for hair or skin application.
What about cosmetic / synthetic baby hair oils?
The baby market is always a big booming business. Concerned and worried parents make for easy buyers and there is a lot of misinformation out there on what baby hair oils contain.
Most synthetic baby hair oils are formulated with Light Liquid Paraffin / Mineral oil. This makes the oil light and non-sticky. But it also makes it highly clogging and heat producing. The use of additives like colours and fragrances further makes these products unsafe for tender skin.
In our earlier post on how many dangerous chemicals come in the way of baby care, we discuss how common preservatives and plasticizing agents are rampant in baby personal care, toys etc. This can quickly be absorbed by baby’s skin leading to toxin build up.
Similarly synthetic compound fragrances and paraffin oil are unsafe for regular use on baby. Learn to read the label carefully when buying baby products. Avoid products with parabens, light liquid paraffin, mineral oil, synthetic fragrances, etc. Choosing a genuine, well formulated Ayurveda hair oils for your baby delivers many profound, long-lasting health benefits for your baby.
How we formulate Krya baby hair oil?
Krya’s special oil manufacturing process
Krya follows strictly traditional ayurvedic manufacturing practices and formulation practices. We have formulated the Krya baby hair oil using the guidelines given in the ancient Kashaypa Samhita and additionally from the Arogya Kalpadruma textbook.
We use only cold pressed, traditionally extracted plant oils from organic seeds for all our oils. We then manufacture the Krya baby hair oil by the Ayurvedic tila paka veedhi process, where every litre of oil is “cooked” on slow flame with 16 – 32 litres of herb Kashayas, fresh juices and herb pastes. This follows the traditional ayurvedic recipe where a small amount of oil is processed with a large amount of herbal decoctions, juices and pastes. When we cook oils with this proportion, in slow flame, we break down the oil considerably allowing the nutrients from the herbs to be absorbed well by the oils.
Krya also follows the ayurvedic method of cooking oils over 3-5 days. This allows the oils more time to absorb herb nutrients. The resultant oils are extremely nutrient packed and full of goodness. And they are well absorbed by skin and hair. It is this special ayurvedic manufacturing process that transforms plain base oils which are not well absorbed into ayurvedic oils that penetrate deep into the tissues carrying herb goodness.
Krya uses NO synthetics, colours, additives, preservatives or fragrances in any of its products. We declare 100% of all ingredients on the website – nothing more is added. No hidden ingredients.
Every herb is either bought from forest sources or from organic cultivation. We start only with whole herbs and use no extracts or similar shortcuts. The Krya team starts each oil from scratch, making each decoction, swarasa and herb paste correctly according to ayurvedic manufacturing techniques.
Herbs we use in the Krya baby hair oil
In a baby hair oil, to help dissipate excess vata due to the rapid growth and expansion of synapses and high amount of stimulus that a baby receives during the first year, we use herbs like Bala, Kushta, Devdaru, etc.
To ground the brain, provide stability and calm, we use herbs like Shatavari, Usheera, Coconut Milk, Yashtimadhu. To stimulate the minor blood vessels in the scalp and stimulate high quality hair growth, we use herbs like Bhringaraj, Amla, Triphala and Sariva.
To support correct development of Medhya, we use herbs like Brahmi. To support the eyes and help cool Pitta, we use herbs like Matsyakshi.
How to use this hair oil correctly for your baby?
Krya baby hair oil must be used regularly and left on the baby’s head to ensure full range of benefits for your baby. It should not be used just before hair wash. Rather you must think of the baby’s head as something which requires daily moisturisation much like baby’s skin.
We recommend starting with a few drops of baby hair oil. Apply this in the morning when baby is active and awake, preferably just before a bath. Warm the oil well in the palm of your hand before applying. Focus on application throughout the scalp, Use very gentle pressure and focus on the anterior fontanelle during oil application.
Many babies, due to rapid brain development and stimulation have extremely dry scalps. You may notice that the baby’s scalp rapidly absorbs the oil applied on the scalp.
After a week / two weeks of oiling at this level, slowly increase amount of oil used. Always be aware that babies are very prone to kapha aggravation / caching a cold quickly. As the baby hair oil is sweet and cooling, too much oil can aggravate kapha, especially if baby is prone to colds.
So always start with a small quantity of oil and observe how baby reacts before increasing the dose.
As a precautionary measure, we recommend applying small amount of rasnadi Choornam every day on baby’s head. This can be done after bath if you are applying hair oil before bath. Leave a gap of one hour between baby hair oiling and application of rasnadi Choornam. Rasnadi Choornam absorbs excess water and moisture from scalp, preventing kapha aggravation to some extent.
For cradle cap:
For persistent cradle cap, regular application of warm Krya baby hair oil helps soften the scales, reduce itchiness and helps
When to avoid hair oiling for baby?
Avoid head oiling if the weather is extremely cold. Also avoid head oiling if the baby has a cold or fever. Also avoid if the baby has indigestion, is excessively tired or cranky. This apart, please think of head oiling as a regular daily practice. Just like you may apply a moisturising product on baby / give baby a bath, you should oil the baby’s head.
Even though you may wash baby’s hair only once or twice a week, hair oil should be applied daily. Hair Oiling is a Dinacharya. If the baby has lice or nits, the Krya baby hair oil should not be used. Instead use the Krya anti lice hair oil in small amounts (more on this below).
What to wash baby’s hair with?
Baby shampoos are the subject of a great deal of discussion, and we will be writing a separate post on this. Synthetic baby shampoos are loaded with chemicals and are extremely harmful to baby’s health. Please read more on synthetic shampoos here. Baby soaps and shampoos are often marketed as highly gentle products loaded with natural ingredients. This could not be further from the truth if you are buying a regular cosmetic baby care product. This is an analysis we had done of a leading brand of baby soap. As you can see, babycare industry regularly over promises and green washes claims and active ingredients to convince parents that they are buying into a gentle product.
Using edible grains and natural herbs are an excellent way to care for baby’s skin and hair. We suggest using either plain green gram / mung flour to wash baby’s head.
Alternatively, we suggest the Krya baby hairwash. This is a 23 ingredient ayurvedic herbal Choornam (carefully manufactured and finely sifted blend of herbal powders). This hairwash has been formulated and manufactured after careful study of the ayurvedic texts. The product has the correct pH for baby’s skin and scalp, does not disturb the baby’s microbiome. It contains a wealth of wonderful natural herbs like Bhringaraj, Amla, Vacha, Brahmi, Nutgrass, etc along with organic green gram, and a small amount of plant surfactants like Soapberry and Shikakai.
The product is extremely gentle and is calibrated to gently cleanse baby’s scalp without stripping it of natural oils or irritating skin in any way. It is excellent for babies with dry scalp and persistent cradle cap.
Using the Krya baby Hairwash for cradle cap:
For persistent cradle cap, regular head oiling with the krya baby hair oil and once a week washing with the krya baby hairwash greatly helps.
Please make a thin paste of the Krya baby hairwash and apply it like a pack on all the areas with cradle cap. Let it remain on the baby’s head for 1-2 minutes before rinsing with luke warm water. The herbs in the hairwash helps cut down thickening of cradle cap, and reduces itchiness.
The problem of lice in babies:
In babies with strong pitta based constitution, or when there is contact with older children or adults who are carriers, babies can contract lice infestation.
Lice in the head region can reduce the amount of healthy blood in the body, and can cause severe itchiness and discomfort to the baby. We suggest using the Krya Anti lice hair products in case your baby has contracted lice.
For babies under one year:
Use small amounts of Krya Anti Lice Hair oil in drops alone to oil the baby’s head daily / every alternate day. During this period do not use the Krya baby hair oil, any other hair oil or Coconut oil. Normal oils have a sweet , nourishing taste which are highly appealing to lice. On the other hand, the Krya Anti Lice hair oil is formulated with strong bitters that discourage lice. The oil also deactivates Nits.
However the oil does not kill lice as it is not made from any poisonous substances. It makes the scalp inhospitable, but lice are persistent. So please use a lice comb to comb out all adult lice . With regular oil application, all nits will be deactivated, so we need not fear any further fresh outbreak.
The Krya Anti Lice hair oil can be left on the scalp after oiling. As it is not poisonous or harmful, there is no need to immediately wash out the product.
Instead of the Krya baby hair wash, use a mixture of the Krya Anti Lice hair mask (75%) and the Krya baby hair wash (25%) once a week to wash baby’s hair. Apply the mixture as a moderately thick paste on baby’s scalp and hair. Allow it to stay on for 2-3 minutes before rinsing out. The Krya Anti Lice hair mask contains further bitter, natural lice repelling substances, which make the terrain inhospitable for lice.
For babies over one year:
The Krya anti Lice hair oil and the Krya Anti Lice hair wash can be used to maintain the hair in the same way as given above. For high infestation, we recommend using the entire Anti Lice hair system. For toddlers and children going to creches / playschools, we recommend using the Krya Anti lice products for atleast 2-3 weeks after the lice infestation has been eradicated to discourage fresh infestation.
Post care after Lice infestation has been eradicated:
Once the lice outbreak has been brought under control, the entire family and any close caregivers must also do 2-3 rounds of use of the Krya Anti Lice hair oil + wash as a precautionary measure.
Ensure al combs, pillow covers, towels and bed linen are washed and disinfected to ensure there is no nit / lice infestation remaining on these items. We suggest washing with the Krya Lemon detergent and drying in the hot sun for further disinfection.
Similarly all combs should be thoroughly washed and sanitised to remove any traces of nits which can get reattached to baby.
In summer, or seasons where there is high sweating, we recommend occasional use of the Krya anti lice hair mask as a precautionary measure to discourage Lice.
To sum up: classical benefits of an ayurvedic baby hair oil
In this article, we discussed the wonderful and frankly mind boggling development of the infants brain. We saw how the rapid development of the brain in the first 3 years after birth gave rise to some unique challenges.
We read how Ayurveda views these unique challenges and uses herbs and oils to assist and support the rapidly growing and developing infant brain. We understood the importance of daily head oiling for the baby and how when we use the right baby hair oil, we can help ground, calm and balance all 3 doshas in the head area.
We read about how the base oil in a baby hair oil must be chosen and how Krya formulates the Krya baby hair oil. We also read about how to use the product for babies, how to use the Krya baby hair oil in persistent cradle cap. We also discussed what to do when baby picks up lice and how to manage lice infestation naturally in babies.
We started Krya with a deep desire to explore and make available safe , holistic and highly effective products made from ayurvedic herbs which do not pollute the environment and are safe and effective for all. As we studied Ayurveda deeper and deeper, we were awed by the amount of useful, detailed and practical information the Acharyas have given us to develop better health and wellness. Through our blog posts, youtube channel , Instagram channel and facebook community, we hope to share as much of this wonderful information to benefit as many people as possible.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. If you would like us to write about other topics related to baby skin or haircare, please drop a comment below or email us. For any assistance on buying our products, please WhatsApp us using this link.