My newborn girl has a funny smell in the top of her head: it's like milk or strawberry yogurt. Very soft, very light, I have to come really close to feel it. But it's something I notice...

She takes a bath everyday (we live in Brazil, and here it's considered ok, I know that in some countries people/child don't do that - example - and that's ok too). We wash her head using some baby shampoo like Johnson&Johnson, and just few minutes after breastfeeding, the smell appears again.

The smell doesn't come from the ears / neck / etc.

And I never paid attention to any other newborn smell, so I don't know if that is common... so, my question: is it normal that a newborn have this kind of smell ?

Update: now she is 2mo, and that funny smell is almost gone. It resambles my wife's smell. And I miss it... :(

3 Answers 3


The smell becomes more noticable as she gets warm from combined body heat when feeding. Your baby has the start of Cradle Cap. Gently rub a light unperfumed oil (almond, or vegetable oil) carefully into her scalp and leave for 30mins. Brush softly with baby hair brush to remove the sticky skin flakes, shampoo gently and carefully rinse thoroughly with tepid water. Once daily. If your baby is getting close to 6 weeks old, it is sometimes caused by hormone imbalance. When the smell has gone, so has the cradle cap. It can sometimes affect baby's eyebrows, and baby acne can be seen. All to do with her hormone imbalance.

  • When to the pediatrician and he explained that the child still have hormones from the mother, and is eliminating it, giving that baby smell Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 19:09

Mary Jo mentions a common skin condition. That's probably a good guess and you can easily see the scales on the head.

If there are no scales, then perhaps it's just that famous baby smell. I never knew what "baby smell" smelled like before I had a child, but now I know it. It's a very nice smell. Savor it; it will be gone soon. If it's baby smell, then don't worry; it's harmless and you don't need to wash or clean it away.

  • :( now it's almost gone... Commented May 3, 2013 at 19:09

Your baby may have cradle cap, which is a very common skin condition in infants. It's official name is seborrheic dermatitis. According to MedlinePlus (National Institute of Health):

It appears as thick, crusty, yellow or brown scales over the child's scalp. Similar scales may also be found on the eyelids, ear, around the nose, and in the groin. Cradle cap may be seen in newborns and small children up to age 3... Cradle cap is not contagious, nor is it caused by poor hygiene. It is not an allergy, and it is not dangerous.

I have also seen cradle cap that is more white. To treat cradle cap:

  1. Massage your baby's scalp gently with your fingers or a soft brush to loosen the scales and improve scalp circulation.

  2. Give your child daily, gentle shampoos with a mild soap while scales are present. After scales have disappeared, you may reduce shampoos to twice weekly.

  3. Be sure to rinse off all soap.

  4. Brush your child's hair with a clean, soft brush after each shampoo and several times during the day.

  5. If scales do not easily loosen and wash off, apply some mineral oil to the baby's scalp and wrap warm, wet cloths around his head for up to an hour before shampooing. Then, shampoo as directed above. Remember that your baby loses a lot of heat through his scalp. If you use warm, wet cloths with the mineral oil, check frequently to be sure that the cloths have not become cold. Cold, wet cloths could drastically reduce your baby's temperature.

  6. If the scales continue to be a problem or concern, or if you child seems uncomfortable or scratches his scalp, contact your physician. He may prescribe a cream or lotion to apply to your baby's scalp several times a day.

  • 1
    Massaging a thin paste of baking soda over the scales will help remove them as well, if you are concerned about shampooing a lot.
    – Kit Z. Fox
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 13:06

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