Styling your Curly Child’s Hair

Bonding like no other…

Before I had my own daughter, I used to dread one day having to style a little girl’s hair if I ever were to have a girl. I knew that my own curly hair in combination with my husband’s super curly hair that any daughter we would have would face a lifetime of trying to tame unruly curls. I always thought that God had given me my 2 boys for a reason, because he knew that I wouldn’t be able to deal with doing a little girl’s curly hair, especially since I had fought for years to tame my own hair.

But a few years later, I was lucky enough to find myself pregnant with my own little girl. During that time, my niece came to stay with me for a few days while my sister went away on vacation for a couple of days. During that time I had to brush and style her hair. I was so excited but a little apprehensive too. But with some patience and creativity, my niece who typically hated getting her hair brushed let me style her hair. And it turned out beautifully! It made me so excited for the impending arrival of my own daughter. I also learned what a unique bonding experience hair styling a child’s hair could be. I did some research shortly afterwards to see if I could find any cultures that did believe that hair styling created a special bond between women. But the only article I found was by an Indian woman who talked about hair oiling, which was customary in her culture. And how one day she suggested hair oiling to her new family that she had married into and by the end of an hour or so she and her new inlaws were smiling and laughing and so much closer. So although it’s something that is not documented or researched as far as I could find, I definitely believe that hair styling can build up a special bond between mother and daughter or between any two females.

The scalp is one of the places on the body that is often used for sensory pleasure. So it doesn’t have to be a tense or painful experience to style your daughter’s hair. The most important aspect of helping your daughter to remain calm during the styling process is to be calm and patient yourself. There are also other things you can do while brushing and styling your daughter’s hair to help her remain calm. Here are some of the things that I have done:

• Brush your daughter’s hair while she’s watching her favorite tv show. Dora the Explorer helps me out tremendously at home

• Give your daughter a snack to eat while you’re styling her hair, my favorite hair snacking foods are raisins, honey nut cheerios, simple foods that she can pick up easily with her fingers

• Letting my daughter hold the hair barrettes basket and pick out the barrettes that will go in her hair. She absolutely loves doing this. She’ll play with the rubber bands, reorganize or jumble them up and show me the ones she wants in her hair.

So don’t worry, although doing a curly haired child’s hair can be daunting, it can be done and be a wonderful pleasant bonding experience for you both.

Getting prepared

Before you sit your daughter down to do her hair, you must make sure that you have all of the essential tools within arm’s length. I like to keep everything in a clear plastic container to make them all easier to find.  The one in the link I’ve included is in a set of 6, but you can purchase these seperately at WalMart or even a Dollar Store.

Here are the tools that I use routinely:

Rat Tail comb – this is critical for making neat straight parts. Although it is still hard to get a really straight part in my daughter’s hair. The rat tail comb makes it much easier! You can find these in any store, I’ve bought a few in the Dollar store. Just be sure to test the combs out on your own scalp first. I bought 2 once that were much too sharp and painful to my own scalp. I never use these on my daughter’s hair because I know they would be even much more painful for her tender toddler scalp.
• Smoothing brush – this is a great tool for grabbing all those little fine hairs and smoothing them into a nice neat little ponytail. The smoother the ponytail hairline, the neater the style will look when complete.
• Soft pony tail holder Goody has a wonderful line of pony tail holders for girls.  The majority of these will work wonderfully well for your daughter’s hair.  You wantand her hair gets thicker, you can get the larger size bands, but for now the smallest are the best. It  the bands that have no metal clasp and are smaller than normal for your toddler girl’s hair. As she gets older means less times that you need to loop the hair through the band.

• Small rubber bands -these are made of rubber, and they come in black or in multiple colors. I do not like to use these as you need to cut them out of the hair to ensure they don’t pull or break your daughter’s hair. This always makes me afraid that I will cut a bit of her hair so I avoid them, but my daughter’s babysitter loves them and they are the only rubber bands that she puts in my daughter’s hair when she is doing her hair.

• Headbands these are absolutely an essential for your daughter when they are babies and their curls are becoming more voluminous until the time that her hair is fuller and you can brush her hair softly into neat little ponytails. They help give that special touch so that everyone can see you took extra care with your daughter’s hair although her curls may look a little tousled.  Get them in all colors to coordinate with many of her outfits.
• Any cute colorful hair accessory that you like – You can never have enough of these and I buy new ones every chance that I get.

Maintenance of your daughter’s hair

The second step in style your daughter’s hair, once you have all your tools in place is taking care of her hair. This means treating her hair extra special so that when she becomes a teenager it’s not already dried and frizzy from overuse of hair gel and other drying products.

• Shampooing – I use Johnson & Johnson Shampoo/Condition combo on my daughter’s hair. They now have different kinds of shampoos that vary depending on the hair texture. I will usually buy the shampoo & condition combination that is for curly hair. In addition to using the combination, I will use a separate J&J Conditioner for curly hair on her hair once done with the Shampoo/Condition duo. Curly hair is naturally more porous and thereby naturally more dry, so I love to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.

• Bedtime Hair – Bedtime hair styling is VERY important with the curly haired child. Depending on how you style your child’s hair at night will dictate how her hair looks when she wakes up and how much time you need to spend on her hair in the morning. After I bathe my daughter, and shampoo and condition her hair I have a routine for the bedtime as well. I typically like to towel dry her hair. But I don’t blow dry it as that can sometimes be harsh and drying on the hair when done too frequently. I will then put a moisturizer in it, whatever I happen to have on hand at the time. I will use any organic moisturizer on my daughter’s hair that does not contain alcohol in it, even if it is not marketed for just children. I usually will put about the size of a small golf ball amount in my palm and rub it around in my hands until it’s evenly dispersed; I then begin rubbing it through her hair from the roots to the ends. To finish the bed time style, I grab the smoothing brush and smooth all of her hair into one loose ponytail on the top of her head. This style helps to prevent her hair from becoming too tangled overnight and more difficult to brush in the morning.

Morning Routine

So your dear little one wakes up and frightens even you when you see what her hair looks like. You thought straight bed head looked scary? Try CURLY bed head! The hair will shape itself into forms that look alien to even the most loving and devoted mother. How to tame the wildness? Well, first things first, don’t panic. Get your hair basket that has all of your hair tools in it. I love keeping all of my tools in a basket for her hair because it makes it portable. This means I can do her hair on the sofa, on the bed in my room, in the bathroom, pretty much anywhere that makes it easier for us in that moment.

Dip your brush in some water and tap off the excess on the sink. If you are in another room, you’ll want to bring in a cup with you with warm water in it. Brush her hair beginning at the roots. Once the water touches the hair, you’ll begin to see it taming down right away. NOTE: remember not to use excessive amounts of water during the colder winter months. You just want to use enough to be able to get the hair in control. After the hair has been brushed, I like to re-moisturize the hair (remember you can never over-moisturize). Take another small golf-ball size amount in your palms, rub it in your palms, then smooth it through her hair beginning at the roots. A moisturizer is essential for the curls to hold their shape through the day and to reduce frizzies. Frizzy hair is usually what makes curly hair look unkempt.

One thing to be sure of when you put a product in your daughter’s hair is that it does not contain alcohol. Today there are lots of detangling sprays that even Johnson & Johnson sells. I don’t use these products on my daughters hair, no matter how tangled as they contain alcohol and after extended use will only make her hair more difficult to style in the future. Increased dryness means increased friziness which translates to increasingly sloppy unkempt looking hair styles.

I recently found this Olive Oil Hair Gel in Sallys Beauty Supply that I use for my daughter.  It’s 100% natural and alcohol free!!  I definitely recommend  this for your daughter’s hair.  Typically, I will go to Wal-Mart or CVS and scour each and every product until I find one that I like for her hair. I’ll usually use the product, once I’ve bought it and brought it home, on both of our hair. I did find some really great looking products on line that you can try out. I haven’t used these products and so I’m not endorsing them, but I would love to try them in the future. If you do purchase them, please let me know your thoughts on them.

Once you have finished moisturizing the hair, and then added a little gel if you like, use your rat tail comb to section the hair off. I like to make two little ponytail s in the front and one in the back. Each day I vary it. I play with the different style parts, slanted, swoping, etc. These all change the look of the hairstyle. Play around with it and just have fun with it. And see what creative styles you can come up with.

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