For an 8-month old baby is it safe to use canola oil to treat cradle cap?

4 Answers 4


Yes, you can use baby oil or natural oils (almond or olive or canola oil. But avoid groundnut or peanut oil in children under 5.) to loosen thick crusts. It's probably a good idea to do a "spot test" for allergy.

This is the information I am using for cradle cap.


It's a harmless condition; it usually clears itself after a few months; most cases have completely gone by the age of one year. If baby is scratching or appears distressed by cradle cap it's probably a good idea to ask a doctor or health visitor because it might not be cradle cap.

  • 1
    I found your link and - interestingly - a contradiction from the other side if the pond. The Mayo Clinic and other US sources recommend mineral oils or petroleum jelly where GB sources advocate natural oils. My gut feeling would lead me to almond oil or similar, I avoid mineral oils whenever possible, but that's not based on scientific research.
    – Stephie
    May 31, 2015 at 7:47
  • @Stephie - that's interesting! I'd be intersted to see why they recommend different oils. Does anyone know?
    – DanBeale
    May 31, 2015 at 7:52
  • @DanBeale a quick Googling leads to some sites saying veg/nut oils can increase the risk of an associated yeast infection, but that is the limit of what I have time to research right now.
    – Acire
    May 31, 2015 at 11:47

Sure, canola oil is fine to use on the baby's scalp.

For cradle cap, you can rub any edible non-nut vegetable oil into the crusted areas, but don't leave it on for hours; wash it off with baby shampoo 5-15 minutes after applying, and brush the flakes of crust off with a baby hairbrush. Repeat every day until gone, then shampoo hair at least twice a week.

I'm concerned, though, that at this age, it might not be simple cradle cap (it is more common in early infancy.)

If your baby hasn't been to their doctor for this, you should take them (it's not an emergency, though.) If it's not cradle cap, it will be treated differently. The baby should have a thorough skin exam for other affected areas, and a differential diagnosis should be considered. If it is cradle cap, there are now good new treatments for it.

The Frequency of Common Skin Conditions in Preschool-aged Children in Australia: Seborrheic Dermatitis and Pityriasis Capitis (Cradle Cap)

  • Well it could still be left overs, ours still has a bit that she didn't get to scratch off.
    – martin
    May 31, 2015 at 11:46

As mentioned, you probably want to test for allergies first, this one requires more care but hands down the best thing I found was to take a dry flannel and put about half a teaspoon of 100% tea-tree oil on a small area near the corner of the flannel, then use the flannel to carefully work the tea-tree into the scales. Keep the dry end of the flannel handy to control any loose oil, but try not to use so much oil that you cause any drips.

This oil dissolves the scales right away, no matter how bad it's gotten. Then just carefully wash the gunk and tea-tree out of the hair afterwards, keeping the water away from the face with another dry flannel. I've used this technique many times and never had any incidents, but if you're not confident in safe application of this oil, I probably wouldn't recommend for babies or kids that can't keep still. The fumes alone can be overwhelming if you use too much. If you do it right though, it's a ten minute job with perfect results.


Canola oil would be safe as long as there isn't an allergy. I have heard that mineral oil is the best, but we used olive oil. I don't know that it makes a ton of difference which kind. What seemed to be more effective was when we followed up by brushing the scalp with a bristle brush, and we had to make sure and do it every day. Cradle cap can be really hard to get rid of.

I recommend rubbing the oil into the scalp, then use a bristle brush to gently break up the scales and wash it out with shampoo.

  • 1
    Hi, Gina, and welcome! We usually don't endorse particular products on this site, especially when the OP is not asking for a product recommendation. Such links might be flagged as spam. I edited out the link, sorry. I'm glad it worked for you, though. Aug 6, 2019 at 0:55

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