Trichology Corner: Why many babies have bald back heads

Many times, we get asked questions on why many babies’ hair are not growing, and people try to explain it away with various answers from the child’s sleeping pattern to hereditary loss, etc. But the truth is that this phenomenon, called Neonatal Occipital Alopecia in babies, is more of a bodily function thing than mechanical, as some people have wrongly touted it to be.

One thing is sure though, if your child has occipital alopecia, it would eventually disappear, and you would understand why by the time you are done reading this post.

I decided to treat this topic in our Trichology corner because Discovering Natural touched on it a bit two weeks ago in her video, when she mentioned the fact that Occipital Alopecia (though she didn’t call it that) is caused by telogen effluvium. Though that is true, it would most likely throw a lot of hearers into confusion, knowing that telogen effluvium affects mostly new mothers. So what hormone is inside a woman that just gave birth and a baby? The answer is nothing.

One of the reasons I hesitate to answer this question when I am asked is because it requires some knowledge of hair science and its cycle, for it to make perfect sense. What I would endeavour to do is to try to explain why many babies have bald back heads, as simply as possible.

The hair grows in cycles, as some of us might already know. The hair growth cycle is in 3 phases

Anagen phase – This is the phase when hair strands actively grow out of hair follicles
Catagen phase – This is the phase when the hair strands stop growing, and are now resting
Telogen phase – This is phase when the hair strands are being pushed out of the hair follicles, mostly because the hair is about to re-enter anagen phase

You can read more about these three phases in this post. These three phases can be further subdivided into phases of their own, but that information is not necessary for this post.

Our hair strands are in these three phases at once, apparently. Imagine if our hair was in just one phase at a time, it would mean one day, we would all have a full head of hair, and the next day, we would be completely bald.

Telogen effluvium is when a lot of hair strands than normal, enter the telogen phase at once, thereby causing a lot of hair loss. This happens in new mothers because during pregnancy, hormonal imbalance causes many of them to enter the anagen phase, and remain there for the whole period due to the fact that the body is trying to protect several cells, including hair cells.

It also happens as a reaction to stress, illness, drugs (such as cancer drugs), other hormonal imbalance, etc

But for babies…

In foetus, the hair growth cycle is synchronised, as it is a new life. They start with no hair, and then 20 weeks gestation, hair appears on the scalp. After 26 weeks, the hair enters the catagen phase, and then the telogen phase, from the frontal (front of head) to the parietal (crown/middle of head) region. But the occipital (back of head) region remains in the anagen phase for about 38 weeks, before they enter catagen phase.

Meanwhile, by this time, the frontal and parietal have re-entered the anagen phase and gone about their business. So when the baby is born, the baby has some anagen hair and some catagen hair.
About 8-12 weeks after child birth, the occipital hair enter the telogen phase, and start falling off, causing many parents to wonder what is wrong with the back of their child’s hair.

Eventually (usually towards the end of the first year), the hair growth cycle regularises, and things become normal for all stakeholders involved.

Sometimes, it takes longer to regularise in some children, while it does not happen to some children at all. The reason why that is lies in our unique body functions, which is not ours to program.

If this bothers you, what you can do as a mother is to make sure your child doesn’t continually rub his/head against a cotton pillow case. Let them use satin pillow cases. The remaining is out of your hands.

Worry less and love your child like you should. Eventually, things would get back to normal, and then we can all go to bed.

N.B: Remember that when it comes to hair care, there's a lot of fact, fiction, myth and reality on the internet. In the event of any confusion, it is advised you see a professional hair care expert.

Atilola Moronfolu (HPT) is a certfied hair care expert and a holistic practitioner of trichology certified and accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and Mahogany Hair Revolution, Los Angeles, California. To book a hair clinical appointment with Atilola in Lagos Nigeria, send a mail to or call 07061141501.


  1. Basically, just wait it out!! Shared with all my people with babies! Thanks for the information!!!

    1. Yes people need to know. Mothers worry too much about this.

  2. wow..... that was insightful...... need to tell others about it

  3. Thanks for sharing this great piece of information, I always doubted the cause could be the sleeping position of the child. I grew out my child's bald spot using my special formula I should do a post on it soon.

    1. The sleeping position can contribute to breakage, not outright hair loss

  4. Thanks for the info, I'll spread the word.

  5. Welldone AN....information well received.


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