“Just LOOK at all of that hair!”
“Oh what beautiful curls!”
If this sounds like the soundtrack to you and your child’s life in public, you may have a child blessed with curly hair. Taking care of curls generally comes with a bit of a learning curve; if you and your child share the same texture and curl pattern, this is usually a lot easier than if you do not.
Fear not though, parent of curlicued child, curls are in some ways more low-maintenance than straight hair.
Rule one in the curlbook: Frequent shampooing is not our friend. This is generally true across the board in my opinion, but for curls, it will only dry out the hair, creating more frizz and tangles. Your child’s hair texture will determine the optimum washing schedule; generally finer textures can accommodate more frequent washings than coarser ones. Limit the shampoo to no more than twice a week. If your child is bathed other days, you can wet the hair and apply conditioner, skipping the shampoo (also known as co-washing).
Which brings me to rule two: always use conditioner. I felt foolish putting conditioner in my three-month-old’s hair, but he had the hair of an average two-year-old at the time and it was necessary. Use your fingers or a wide-toothed comb to gently work out any tangles while the conditioner is in; this will prevent the breakage that can come from combing after the shower.
After the shower comes rule three: leave-in conditioning product is generally a must. After towel drying, you can apply coconut oil or a commercial leave-in detangler (or both) sparingly, concentrating on the ends if your child’s hair is longer. If you have fine and/or straight hair, this may seem like a ton of conditioner. Trust me, curly strands need a lot of moisture.
If you like, you can apply a curl gel or pudding at this point to further define the curls. If you choose to do this, start with a small amount (you can always add more but you can't take it away) and use your fingers to run it through your child’s hair, down to the ends, shaping and defining curls if necessary.
And…that’s it! In the morning or after a nap, if you like you can run a bit of water through to redefine the curls and add a bit of moisture into the hair. Fingers or maybe a fine-toothed comb are all you need to keep it snag-free. NO BRUSHES! And see--in this respect, and in the washing schedule, your baby’s “high maintenance” curls are actually quite low-maintenance and very easy to care for.
Meaghan Howard is a mother to three high-energy and adorable little boys with ALL of the hair textures.