As your pregnancy progresses, you might wonder a lot of things about your baby. Will she have blue eyes like you, or freckles like her father? You might even wonder if she'll be born with a mop top, or some paltry peach fuzz. While some little ones come into this world with loads of locks, others are as bald as, well, a baby’s butt. So what are the signs that your baby is going to have lots of hair when they arrive?
The truth is that it’s hard to really know for sure… at least, for the first few months of your pregnancy, anyway. “Around week 14 or 15 during fetal development, small baby hairs start to poke through the skin, which set the stage for your baby's hairline,” Cherilyn Cecchini, M.D., a pediatrician with Your Doctors Online, tells Romper. “Your baby's delicate skin is also growing and developing, and the skin on his or her scalp stretches before hair grows, which is what contributes to the whirl or clockwise twirl of hair on the back of his or her head.”
Around week 14, your baby’s body is also covered in hair called lanugo, according to Healthline, a downy coating to keep him or her warm. If your baby is delivered before term, it is likely that they will have more of this hairy coating on their body, making them look a little, um, furry. “Lanugo typically sheds around week 30 or so, meaning that babies delivered around or after this week are not covered in as much hair,” says Dr. Cecchini. But here’s where it gets interesting: In utero, hair is free of pigment and bright white in color regardless of ethnicity or genetic make-up, What to Expect reported. “So if you're wondering if your child will have a lot of hair or very little hair, it will be tough to know before your baby grows,” says Dr. Cecchini. “But it also depends on genetics, too.” So if the babies in your family have been born bald, there’s a good chance your baby will be as well.
If you thought that you might be able to get a glimpse of a cute little curl or two during one of your baby’s ultrasounds, think again. “Babies grow in amniotic fluid in the uterus, which means that their hair is wet,” Risa Klein, CNM, a midwife in New York City, tells Romper. “That can skew the image of hair length on an ultrasound.” The good news is that after 28 weeks, your baby’s hair can be seen more clearly on an ultrasound.
But there might be one way to tell if you’re going to have a baby with a head full of hair — and it has nothing to do with that burrito you ate for lunch. That old wives’ tale linking heartburn with a thick head of hair might have some merit after all. The study “Pregnancy Folklore Revisited: The Case of Heartburn and Hair” by Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions found that the majority of pregnant women who experienced moderate or severe heartburn gave birth to babies sporting average (or above average) amounts of hair.
And if you absolutely positively need to know if your baby has hair, you can always get a pre-baby preview while you’re in labor. “The best way to know how much hair the baby has is to actually feel the baby’s head during labor with a vaginal exam,” says Klein. If you’re game, you just might want to reach down and touch your baby’s head for yourself — and see how much hair your little guy or gal is actually sprouting.
Whether your baby is born with a hair helmet or is as bald as a cue ball, it really doesn't matter. Eventually her hair will grow, and you'll soon get to style the fluff on her head to make her look fabulous.
Costigan, K, Sipsma, HL, DiPietro, JA. 2006. “Pregnancy Folklore Revisited: The Case of Heartburn and Hair.”
Dr. Cherilyn Cecchini, a board-certified pediatrician
Risa Klein, CNM, a midwife in New York City