What can I use to soften my 5-month-old baby's hair? Her hair seems tough; it tangles and is always dry regardless of any moisture I put/apply on her hair. She cries when I try to comb and appears to be breaking out at the back of her head. Please, I am eager to hear any possible solutions.
When writing the answer below, I had misread "breaking out" as "breaking off". In all cases of rash, pustules, red dots or other changes always check with your healtcare provider first to exclude medical conditions that need professional treatment. Especially fungal infections and oil can be counter-indicative. If the breaking out is simply caused by mechanical stress or hair that is broken or rubbed off, proceed as stated below.
Perhaps you need to realize what causes the hair to tangle and break:
At five months, your child spends a lot of time on her back, even if you subtract tummy time and carrying her around. And an infant's head is comparatively heavy. So she will rub on her hair by simply moving her head from side to side,both when awake or sleeping.
Some children have hair that tends to tangle a lot naturally, others' hair is somewhat smoother. But it will always be the bit at the upper back of the head that is affected the most.
With time, this will sort itself, but in the mean time, I can think of two ways to tackle this:
Do not or rarely wash your baby's hair with soap or shampoo. Honestly, a baby at that age doesn't get very dirty, so in most cases, some lukewarm water should be enough to clean it. All shampoos remove natural oils, making hair more prone to matting and tangling. If you must use shampoo, use a tiny, tiny bit of very mild baby shampoo. I would really splurge here and buy a good, gentle brand, possibly organic, because it will last a long time. Ask around for recommendations, especially look for babies with similar hair type than your daughter. It's hard to give a product name over the internet. I'd stay away from products with silicone. They will leave the hair soft, but their impact on babies is somewhat unclear. (At least according to my sources here in Germany.) A drop or two of natural oil - the same kind that you'd use on her body - should make detangling easier, but use very little, too much may attract more dust and dirt, requiring washing. Oil can be applied to wet or dry hair.
Remove sources of friction on the hair. Some (adult) people swear by silk pillow cases instead of plain cotton for brittle hair. You could splurge and make a mattress cover out of silk, but another typical culprit is the car seat, so covering the head rest there might be even more effective, especially if she spends a lot of time in it. When washing the hair, use gentle strokes, not vigorous rubbing. Same goes for toweling off - blot, don't rub. Check hats and other head gear and, if possible, leave them off. Brushing the hair is basically a good idea, but if it's already too matted and overly painful, you might just let it be for a while and/or cut it off and try to prevent it with the new growth.