I know that for others, the memories aren’t so sweet. Hair being
scraped back and torn with rough combing, singes from irons used to
“tame” naps, and harsh comments about how tough, nappy, and bad one’s
hair was. I’ve seen the after-effects of negative treatment pass down
much more visibly than the positive – mothers who were told their hair
was “bad” have practiced the same with their own children, especially
their daughters. Seeing 4 year olds with relaxed hair makes me sad.
Hearing mothers talk about how terrible their child’s hair is in front of the child makes
I have heard Black women admit to choosing fathers of
another race in order to ensure that her daughter didn’t have “nappy-ass hair” like she did. I’ve spoken with White mothers who have children with Black men, but have absolutely no clue what to do with their baby’s hair.
If you’re a parent struggling with your child’s hair, you aren’t
alone! I’m no hair professional, but here are some tips I’ve acquired to
help create more happy, healthy memories when it comes to little ones
and their hair.
- Moisturizing is the key: kids’ hair can get
extremely dry. From wearing wool hats in the winter, to going to
swimming lessons, to a general rough and tumble lifestyle, so many
things can zap the moisture right out of your little one’s hair. If they
also have tight kinks and curls, you’ll want to pay even more attention
- Adding a bit of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or jojoba oil to
shampoos and conditioners is always a good move.
- Stick to water-based moisturizers to keep hair soft and supple in between
- Use natural oils like coconut oil, argan oil, and shea butter to nourish and lubricate your child’s hair before styling.
- Detangling doesn’t have to be torture: the keys to
detangling are tools + technique.
- Use a wide-tooth comb to gently but
thoroughly detangle hair section by section
- If you have extra time,
use your fingers as a comb to remove any tiny knots or tangles.
detangle your little one’s hair when it’s dry! The best time to do so is
when their hair is soaking wet and full of conditioner – this helps
your comb to move through the hair much easier, and less painfully too.
- If their hair does dry before you’ve been able to detangle, keep a
spritz bottle of water and leave-in conditioner handy to wet the hair
again before running through with the comb.
- Young scalps are important: Are you concerned with
the rate at which your child’s hair is NOT growing? It all starts at the
scalp. School-aged children are prone to getting a little bit of
everything in their hair, and if yours also sweats in their scalp,
you’ll need to shampoo more frequently. Scalps need to be able to breathe
in order for hair growth to flourish, so keep that in mind. Also –
don’t gunk your child’s scalp with petroleum based oils and greases.
While some use mineral oil-based products to protect their strands from mechanical damage, these products can sit on top of the scalp without providing any
nourishing properties. Try applying castor oil to your little one’s
scalp to nourish and promote growth.
- Styles matter: Most parents I know limit “out” days
and keep their children’s hair in mainly protective styles. Smart move,
as this could save you the tears and extra time to detangle at the next
wash day. In the same vein, don’t be afraid to try your hand at some
new styles! Buns, braids, twists, cornrows – the options are endless! If
you aren’t as skilled as you’d like to be, or if your busy schedule
makes it hard to recreate fresh and fab styles, hit up your friendly neighborhood braider to get a style that may last your child a week or 2
at a time! Whatever route you take, remember that young hairlines are
sensitive – don’t cause damage by braiding, pulling, or combing too
tightly. Also, take care of exposed ends. Try applying shea butter or
coconut oil to the ends of hair to protect from dryness and splitting.
(don’t the above tips reflect the same things we adults do for our natural hair care? Get the kiddies started off right!)
- Watch your words: I have colleagues and
acquaintances in their 50s who remember, clear as day, the way their
mothers used to disparage and criticize their hair – those memories
don’t easily fade away. Remove the negative speak when taking care of
your child’s hair, and replace it with positives. Children first develop
their self-esteem through what they’re taught and told at home –
besides, there are sufficient messages in the world to tell your child
why they aren’t good enough. Do you want to add to that, or help to
strengthen your child against it? Use your words to instill pride and
love in your child’s hair, so that they can absorb that pride and love
for themselves. Instead of teaching them how to “fix” their hair, teach
them how to take care of it. “Fixing” indicates that something is wrong –
and as long as your child’s hair is healthy, it’ll be alright!
Below, share your tips for caring for your kiddo’s curls!