How To Care for Your Child’s Hair

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Learn how to care for your child’s hair. Learn what tools to use, what products are good, how to keep hair tangle-free, and how to teach your child to wash own hair.

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As your little one moves from babyhood on into toddlerhood and starts to get more hair, you will find yourself wondering exactly how to best care for your child’s hair.

I have three daughters who all have very long, waist-length hair. I also have a son, but as you can imagine, his hair has never been something that has been difficult to care for.

I have a lot of experience in caring for my daughters’ hair. Here are my child hair care tips.

Learn Your Child’s Hair Type and Texture

As your little one gets older, you will start to recognize a distinct hair type and texture.

Your kiddo might have dry hair, oily hair, curly hair, straight hair, wavy hair, or coily hair. Your child’s hair might be thin, thick, fine, or coarse.

As it becomes clear what type of hair and texture your child has, make sure you learn how to care for that specific hair type. There are different tools, products, and practices to use.

In our modern day, you can find all sorts of info out there, so rather than live in quandary, trying to reinvent the wheel, do some googling and YouTube watching to figure it out.

Use Quality Products

When I say to use quality products, I don’t mean that you necessarily need to spend a lot of money on hair products for your child.

You might need to, but you also might be able to simply use inexpensive products you can find in the aisles of Target or Walmart.

Shampoo

One product you will need to use is shampoo.

As a baby and young toddler, you likely used a baby shampoo. As your little one gets older, you will probably get to a point you find the baby shampoo does not clean as well as it used to. This happens as your kiddo gets more oils and is dirtier in life (hello dirt).

At that point, you will want to move to a regular shampoo.

Should you wash every day? That depends on your lifestyle.

Most children do not need to wash every day. If your kiddo is constantly getting dinner in her hair or he is dousing himself in dirt (it happens!), you will need to shampoo more often.

Some tweens and teens need to shampoo daily if they have very oily hair (but it is wise to try to go longer between washings as washing more frequently can actually increase oil production).

So how often should you wash?

  • Baby: 1-2 times per week (unless you have cradle cap–then you might need more often)
  • Toddler: 2-3 times per week (again, unless she loves to decorate her hair with food or dirt)
  • Preschooler: 3-4 times per week
  • Child: 3-4 times per week
  • Tween: 3-4 times per week (may need to do daily if it is oily)
  • Teen: 3-4 times per week (may need to do daily if it is oily)

With my daughters, I have used all sorts of different brands of shampoo. We have used a basic Suave on up to the more expensive Biolage or Brocato.

As your child gets older and develops a personal hair type, you will want to find shampoos best for that type.

Some of my kids have had dandruff and have needed a dandruff shampoo.

One of my daughters has very oily hair and uses Biolage Mint Shampoo.

We also like to use a clarifying shampoo every once in a while to get a nice, deep clean.

One note, if you are swimming a lot in a chlorine pool, make sure your child washes her hair every time. When we are swimming a lot, we get a special shampoo made specifically for washing out chlorine. We also use Biolage Normalizing Clean Reset Shampoo to clean hair well every once in a while.

Conditioner

Each time your child washes her hair, make sure she also uses conditioner. It is best to use conditioner just on the ends of your hair. I personally condition from the nap of the neck and down.

Conditioner is super helpful to keeping the hair healthy.

We also use a deep conditioner once or twice a month.

On days your daughter does not wash her hair but does shower, a shower cap is super helpful for keeping the hair dry.

>>>Read: Must Have Products for Doing Your Daughter’s Hair

Use Good Tools

Before your daughter showers, she will want to use a brush to comb out her hair. Tangles are much worse when wet, so it is always wise to work them out before getting it wet.

Be sure to watch the video in this post for more details on my favorite hair tools. I talk about some not in this list.

Brushes and Combs

A good brush and comb routine can save you both some tears. When you are brushing or combing, you want to start at the bottom of the hair and work your way up.

My order of operations is:

  • Wet Brush. This is super helpful for working out tangles without pain.
  • Regular brush (a Wet Brush is amazing, but it does not get out every tangle my girls have. We need a regular brush after the Wet Brush).
  • Comb. There will be little tangles the brush misses. So next we use a comb.
  • Find tooth comb. My final step is a find tooth comb to get out every last tangle.

If you want to have long hair, you must stay on top of tangles.

Hair Scrubber

This is a recent addition to our routine. You can get by without it, but I really like it. A hair scrubber helps get the scalp clean, massage the scalp, and gently scrape away dead skin.

We use this while shampooing.

This hair scrubber isn’t a necessary tool, but I do like it.

Handheld Sprayer

If you are washing your little one’s hair, a handheld sprayer is invaluable! This really helps you focus the water so you can wet and wash the hair more easily.

We bought them at Home Depot and installed them ourselves.

If you don’t have one, the regular old shower head will work, or a cup works, also.

Microfiber Towel

Once you are out of the shower, I highly recommend a microfiber towel. We have both the Turbie Twist and a towel from L’ANGE. They are both great, but I do like the L’ANGE one better. You can get for a similar price at L’ANGE if you hit sales.

A microfiber towel is super absorbent and will soak up a lot of water from your daughter’s hair. We gals all have one at my house.

If you are air drying, this will cut down your air dry time. If you are blow-drying, it will cut down your blowout time, which decreases the amount of damage to your hair.

Blow Dryer

I avoid the blow dryer as much as possible. This comes in the form of both not washing every day and also in simply not using the blow dryer.

However, we do live where temperatures are regularly 30 or below for several months of the year, often in single digits. My elementary-aged daughters have recess even in those cold temps, so they need dry hair for school.

My FAVORITE blow dryer is from L’ANGE. It literally cuts your drying time in half. That leads to less damage. Get the Soleil hair dryer, not the compact one.

Trim Hair Regularly

An important step to caring for your daughter’s hair is to get it trimmed regularly.

“Regular” can vary from person to person. Assess your own child’s need.

Some hair is healthier and doesn’t need to be trimmed as often. Children often do not need trims as much as adults.

My girls typically get a trim 3-4 times per year. We always get at least two inches off each time. We have had times where we get 6 inches off.

Keeping it trimmed keeps it healthier.

Avoid Chemicals and Heat

Avoid chemicals and heat to prevent damage to the hair.

Do what you can to avoid the blow dryer, curling iron, and straightening iron. That doesn’t mean NEVER use those things, but make them the exception.

Also avoid chemicals that color, curl, relax, etc. hair.

Avoiding and Removing Tangles

Different hair types get more tangled than others. Among my three girls, two had mild tangles while one seems to get tangles if someone just blinks to hard in the hair’s general direction.

Tangles+Child=Torture for everyone

Here are my tips for avoiding tangles:

  • Thoroughly brush hair each morning. See my brushing routine above.
  • Always brush before you get hair wet. Again, wet tangles are much harder to get out.
  • Use detangler if you need to.
  • Keep hair up and/or braided to avoid future tangles. When hair is down, it is much more likely to get all tangled. This is more important the younger your little one is.
  • Thoroughly brush before bed.
  • Braid hair for sleeping to avoid tangles during sleep. Alternatively, you can use a scrunchie and sleep in a high ponytail (this is what I do on my hair).
  • Brush out from the bottom up.
  • If the hair is super tangly, hold at the nape as you brush out the hair below that. It will help it so your child doesn’t feel the hair being pulled as much.
  • Keep hair trimmed. My girls’ hair tangles more easily when the hair is ready for a trim.
  • Shorter hair does not tangle as easily and is easier to brush out.

Our Hair Routine

Here is our basic routine from morning to evening.

  1. Brush hair out. Either wash it or put it up in a shower cap when showering.
  2. If washing, use shampoo and conditioner. Use a deep conditioner every 2-4 weeks. Use a clarifying shampoo every 2-4 weeks.
  3. If wet, use a microfiber towel to dry. Brush and comb out again. Blow-dry if needed.
  4. If hair is super tangled, use a detangling spray.
  5. Do hair for the day. Hair that is pulled back and/or braided will stay cleaner and get less tangled.
  6. Before bed, brush out again and pull back for sleeping (either a braid or high ponytail).

Get hair trimmed regularly.

When Can a Child Wash Her Own Hair

As you are thinking through all of this, you are probably wondering at what age your child will be able to wash her own hair.

There will be some variance to this answer. Some children are more mature at a younger age. Some have better attention to detail than others.

Children with short hair will be able to be independent hair washers younger than those with long hair.

They do need to learn to do it independently. Most girls will prefer to not be seen in the shower once puberty hits, so you want to work on it before then.

With my girls, we started around first grade, which has been 6 years old for them.

We started with her simply working to get her hair wet alone. We would walk her through it. Then watch her do it. Then give pointers (make sure you feel your hair to know for sure it is wet…).

The next step we took was having her do her own conditioner. So she would get her hair wet, a parent would wash it, then she would do conditioner. Conditioner is far easier than shampoo, so that is why we started with that.

Once she was consistently adept at conditioner, we would let her move on to washing her own hair.

You want to show her how much shampoo to use in her hand (it will look different in her hand than in your hand).

We would start with her doing it, then us checking and making sure it was indeed all scrubbed. We would point out parts that were missed so she could work over time on getting better.

Typically by the time second grade started, she could wash her hair independently most days. So notice this is a very long process.

Again, our girls have very long hair. Our son was independent by first grade, so your child might move faster.

As they become independent, I still washed the hair one time a week. I figured one good washing a week was enough for them at that age, but they still got a day or two of practice time.

Currently, Brinley is in third grade (8 years old). I wash her hair for her once a month. She does a good job, but still benefits from a super thorough cleaning by me once a month.

By fourth grade, my girls have been fully independent.

One note, as my girls are more and more independent, I back off on hair products. For example, when I washed Brinley’s hair, I would use hair spray to keep her hair in place after I did it. Now I rarely if ever use hair spray. That keeps it cleaner.

Conclusion

Caring for your daughter’s hair is not too difficult. Just be aware of her individual needs. Make sure she is capable of caring for it correctly as she takes it over. Find quality products and tools and get regular trims. It will look beautiful!

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How to care for your child's hair

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