Hey mama! So you've got your natural haircare routine down; Your moisturizing, protective styling, and your hair is really starting to grow, but what about your little one?
Once your child reaches a certain age, their hair becomes long enough to need regular care and styling. If those baby head bands and clip bows just won't do anymore, it may be time to create a natural hair care routine for your child.
Now, most moms tend to be more concerned about caring for their daughter's hair than their son's hair, mainly because, historically, men keep their hair cut short. But hair care routines are not just for girls. If you're a mom who prefers their little boy to have a well maintained afro, twists, locs, or braids then you need to have a hair care plan in place too. I have a son with a curly fro, so trust me, I know.
Your child's hair regime doesn't have to be crazy complicated or expensive, but it does need to be consistent. Finding time to maintain yourself is hard enough, but sticking to a hair routine for your child can seem impossible. Once you get the flow, it will just become another part of that daily mom-grind. When it comes to getting your kid's hair to grow long, strong and healthy, these areas are key:
Before anything, it is important to understand that your child's hair MUST have moisture to grow. Period. Without it, your baby's hair is subject to breakage and can become brittle. Depending on how dry the hair is, you may need to moisturize it daily. Simply spritzing the hair lightly with a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 tbsp of your favorite carrier oil - coconut, argan, olive, and castor oil are all great! It's good to moisturize with a heavier cream or lotion at least 2-4 times a week if your child has super dry hair. For my son, a little coconut oil every other day works great to seal in the moisture.
Detangling is definitely the worst part of caring for your child's natural hair because of the discomfort and even pain it can cause your child. As a kid, I remember screaming as my mom combed through my hair and detangled it. But there are ways to gently remove tangles form your child's hair before they become nasty knots and break off. First, make sure you use your fingers and a wide tooth comb, no brushes. Second, always detangle before you wash. Third, always use moisture when detangling - never try and detangle dry hair. Always use a leave in conditioner, moisturizing cream, or carrier oil to untangle your baby's locks.
Cleansing is an important part of your child's hair care routine. The key is to not over-wash it, once a week or every two weeks is usually sufficient. Of course, if your child play's sports or has oilier hair you may need to wash it more often, just try not to wash it every day. Make washing your child's hair a fun part of his or her extended bath time! Always use a co-wash to protect your child's hair from drying out! Follow up with a deep conditioner and gently dry with a t-shirt or allow hair to air dry - traditional terry cloth towels can unevenly dry the hair and cause breakage from the rough texture.
Conditioning and deep conditioning will play a vital role in the overall health of your child's hair. You can use the conditioner and deep conditioner interchangeably, or, depending on your child's hair needs, you can deep condition with every wash. I recommend deep conditioning at least twice a month, allowing it to sit under low heat (or the hot sun) for about 30 min to 1 hour. You can purchase your conditioners or make your own child-safe hair masks at home. Making your own hair treatments is a great way to bond with your child :-)
Styling will be another crucial player in the growth of your child's natural hair. You'll want to use protective styling to prevent damage to your child's hair from harsh elements and breakage in between washes. The best styling options for kids are twists, braids, and cornrows. You can also try styles like puffs and ponytails, but keep in mind those can be rough on your child's edges. Make it fun! Switch things up, use cute clips and headbands and match your hairstyle with your child when you can. Make them feel good about their hair!
Most of us moms want our child's hair (especially our daughters hair) to grow long, and trimming it regularly will help it get there. Remember, I trim is NOT a haircut! Trimming removes only a minimal portion of the hair and only hair is damaged - we want healthy strands for our babies! Split ends and popping hair strands are all signs that your child may be due for a trim. If you are comfortable enough you can do this easily at home, or you can head to the salon for a professional trimming.
There has always been a lot of negativity associated with african hair texture, and it is important that you don't spread this negative vibe. Be gentle with your words and the way you handle your child's hair. Use positive associations about their locks, tell them how thick and beautiful it is. Don't get frustrated when you get stuck on a tangle, instead stay encouraging and tell them how lucky they are to have so much hair! Never pull and tug when styling your child's hair, move slowly and create a positive experience. That way they will learn to love their hair and look forward to styling it on their own one day :-)