Because it's so common, it's not a bad idea to try to prevent cradle cap before it even starts. It turns out that regular shampooing of your baby's scalp is a simple but effective way to stave off the scales.
Doctors aren't exactly sure what causes cradle cap, but they do have several theories. What is known is that the condition thrives on oily skin. This is thought to originate from hormones the baby gets from his or her mother before birth. Perhaps cradle cap is simply caused by dead skin sticking to oily skin rather than falling off. But another theory says that it has to do with oily skin's reaction to Malassezia furfur, a kind of yeast.
Regardless, shampooing your baby's scalp or washing the skin with gentle soap can help prevent the condition by mitigating the amount of oil on the skin. Two or three shampoo sessions a week should be plenty. Although parents may be tempted to shampoo the baby daily, some doctors advise against this because it can backfire: Overwashing can cause the skin to significantly increase its oil production and boost your baby's chances of developing cradle cap.