How to take care of your child's hair.
Children's hair is a tricky task. How you take care of a child's hair depends on the type of hair that he or she has and the activity level of the child. Through trial and error, you can develop a hair care routine that works. It's important to create healthy hair habits early on.
Shampooing and Conditioning Hair
Tailor your shampoo regimen to your child's needs. Think about the child's hair type (straight, curly, oily, dry), activity level, and age to determine how often to shampoo his or her hair. Needs will vary from child to child. You may have to adjust shampooing frequency based on changes in the weather as well.
Toddlers should have their hair shampooed about three times a week.
Oily and straight hair should be shampooed once a day or every other day.
Straight, non-oily hair can be shampooed once or twice a week.
African-American hair, curly hair, or dry hair should be shampooed every 7 to 10 days. Hair should be rinsed with water and conditioned after heavy sweating or swimming.
Adjust shampoo frequency if needed.
Monitor how your child's hair responds to the recommended shampooing frequencies and make adjustments as necessary. The weather or changes in activity levels may require a change in shampooing frequency.
- If you notice that the hair and/or scalp is oily, add an additional shampoo per week until the oiliness is gone.
- If you notice dullness, shedding, or dryness, remove one shampoo per week until the hair feels better.
Decide if conditioner is necessary.
African-American, curly hair, and dry hair should be conditioned after the shampooing process. Conditioner adds shine, softens hair, and smooths the cuticle. The conditioning needs of your child's hair may change due to the climate. Hair may need conditioner during colder months or in drier climates.
Choose the type of conditioner based on your child's hair needs.
Three types of conditioners include leave-in conditioner, deep conditioners, and instant conditioners. The type of conditioner you choose is based on the child's hair. For example, if your child has extremely dry hair, a deep conditioner would be best. Always follow the directions on the conditioner bottle.
- Leave-in conditioners are kept in and are not rinsed out of the hair. They can make the detangling process easier. A leave-in conditioner may weigh fine or thin hair down.
- Instant conditioners coat the hair and create softness and shine. They do not have to be left in the hair for very long before they are rinsed out.
- Deep conditioners usually stay in the hair for about 15 minutes before rinsing. They can be used after every shampoo or once a month depending on the condition of your child's hair.
- A hot oil treatment can also be used once or twice a month to condition hair as well. Heat up some oil (e.g. olive oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil) and then massage the warm oil into the scalp and hair. Cover the hair with a shower cap or a warm towel and let the oil sit for 20 minutes. Rinse out the oil when finished.
Detangle the hair.
Always detangle hair, before styling. Divide hair into sections and secure the sections with a clip or ponytail holder. Apply a leave-in conditioner or a detangler to the section, and then begin to comb the section. Start at the ends of the hair and work your way up. Be gentle as not to hurt the child or damage the hair.
- Entertaining the child with a movie or book can help the detangling process go more smoothly. Make sure both you and the child are in a comfortable position before you get started.
- A wide tooth comb is a good tool to use for detangling.
- Once a section is detangled, either braid it or twist it so it does not become tangled again.
- Be extra gentle with kinky and curly hair. This hair type should be divided into smaller sections for the detangling process. You can also use your fingers to help detangle the hair.
- If you plan on applying heat to the child's hair later, apply a heat protectant to the hair as you are detangling.
Apply conditioner to your child's hair.
Conditioner should be applied on freshly washed hair. Squeeze out any excess water before applying. Put hair into sections and then apply a palm sized amount of conditioner to each section. Focus conditioner application on the ends of the hair.
- Thicker and curlier hair should be divided into smaller sections to better distribute the conditioner.
- Work the conditioner through the hair using a wide toothed comb or your hands.
- Conditioner does not need to be applied to your scalp.
- Thicker and highly textured hair may need more conditioner than fine and thin hair. Adjust the amount of conditioner you use based on the child's hair type.
Avoid harsh chemicals.
African-American children should not chemically relax their hair to straighten it. These chemicals can negatively affect their scalp. The tighter curl pattern of African-American hair makes it more susceptible to chemical damage. Blow-drying or ceramic combs are safer alternatives for straightening hair.
- If you choose to relax the hair, wait until the child is at least 12 years old and have the relaxer done by a professional stylist.
- Permanent and semi-permanent hair color should not be used by children under 16 years of age.
- Use styling products such as mousse, gels, and pomades that are specially formulated for children.