I am natural, as some of you may know. My reasons for going natural were not what some people think. I wasn’t looking to change western beauty standards or any such motivation. I simply wanted longer hair.
I staunchly believe that there isn’t one reason more noble than others for going natural. All reasons are valid and deeply personal. Whether you got tired of breakage, tired of having a relaxer schedule or tired of conforming to a white standard of beauty yada yada yada.
If and when you have kids, you will truly understand the reasoning behind why being natural yourself will serve you better in the long term. I am no hardcore natural in that I completely accept that relaxed hair is a choice rather than a result of hating yourself. But when you have kids, you soon realize that you cannot avoid learning how to take care of natural hair anyway!
If there’s one thing that I’m obnoxiously opinionated on is the idea of keeping kids natural until they are old enough to understand the pros and cons of relaxing their hair and make the decision to go ahead with it themselves. I distinctly remember an episode of Tyra where a mother was proud of relaxing her 4 year old’s hair. Oh boy! Don’t get me started on exactly what I think of that situation.
I honestly believe that my daughter’s well being reflects on me as a parent and as such, so does her hair. With regard to our children, hair length is not usually as much of an priority as health and that obviously comes from a good regimen.
So with that said, here is a good regimen that you can use for your child. I will refer to the child as ‘her’ for the sake of ease but of course this can be used just as well for your little man.
Once the babyhood soft hair aka “placenta perm” has fallen away, it may not be as easy to wash your little girl’s curls every other day. Her washing schedule can be adjusted to every two weeks if you feel it more prudent.
Very young children 0-5 years old tend not to like their hair being washed very often anyway. It’s less to do with pain than hating the feel of water in their eyes and ears! Not all children will mind however so I leave it up to the wisdom of the parent to decide what’s most convenient.
Detangling is the most tricky area of the regimen mostly because you don’t want to cause her pain but also because you don’t want to give her a negative impression of her hair as it will affect her forever. I’m sure you still remember the pain of your hair being pulled every which way while being braided or even getting scalp burns as your hair was pressed as a child. It wasn’t pleasant was it? You definitely don’t want the same for your little one.
• If her hair has been in a protective style or a low manipulation style like a ponytail or puff, you may be surprised to see how little detangling the hair will actually need. Put the comb away because you won’t be needing it. Grab a spray bottle with water and your favorite conditioner which we will be using as the prepoo.
• Divide the hair into sections, leave a little section at the front for her to ‘help’ you with. Children are naturally curious and will want to copy what you are doing. Getting them involved into their hair regimen will make it more fun for both you and her!
• Spray one section of hair with water and apply enough conditioner to soften the strands but not too much that the hair is dripping.
• Use your fingers to gently pull the strands apart and remove any knots. Smooth the hair with your hands while releasing the shed hair with your fingers and repeat this with all the sections of hair.
• Braid the hair into 4 or more large braids in preparation for washing. Yes hair will get completely clean even while in braids! It may be easier to schedule the wash routine to coincide with her bath time.
• Cleanse her hair with a sulfate free shampoo* concentrating on the scalp rather than her hair. Rinse thoroughly.
• Apply the conditioner of your choice generously on the braids massaging to ensure that it is penetrating the entire braid. Now leaving the conditioner in her hair and allow her some playtime in the bath to let the conditioner work it’s magic. 5-10 minutes should be enough.
• Rinse thoroughly and use a towel to blot the excess water out of the braids.
• With her hair slightly damp, take each braid down individually and apply a small amount of leave in conditioner*. Seal the moisture in with your favorite oil or butter. You can use a comb at this point to ensure even distribution of the products.
Children with super curly or kinky* hair textures benefit from protective or low manipulation styles. Let’s face it, it makes things easier for you too. Having said that, little girls, just like you, absolutely love to wear their hair out from time to time, so let them!
• Braid outs are an easy style both to accomplish and to wear for up to two weeks with very little effort on your part. Straight after moisturizing and sealing her hair, braid it into 4 or more braids depending on the volume of hair. Twirl the ends to ensure an even curl. Leave the braids to dry overnight.
• In the morning, release the braids and fluff into style. Apply a pretty head band or bow to accessorize her hair and she’s ready to go.
• Kids are not as careful with their hair as adults are, go figure, so don’t worry too much if you are unable to get second day hair out of her braid out. Just pull it into a high puff for the ensuing days.
• At bed time, simply take a few minutes to moisturize and seal her hair then braid her puff into 1 or two loose braids to keep it relatively stretched while she sleeps.
• As an alternative to nightly braiding, you can use banding to keep her puff stretched overnight. Simply apply a few hairbands over the length of her hair to keep it stretched. It literally takes 1 minute!
• You will be unlikely to get a child to sleep with anything covering her hair so satin scarfs or bonnets are obviously out of the question. Just ensure that she has a satin pillowcase* to sleep on!
• In the morning release the braids, brush the edges down with a boar bristle brush and she’s ready to go.
• Spritz her hair with a bit of water every other day to restore moisture if you feel it is getting a bit dry. This simple nightly routine can be repeated until the next wash day comes around.
• Rotate protein and moisture conditioners when washing her hair. It’s impractical to deep condition a child’s hair so don’t worry too much about it, as long as the rest of her regimen is good, she will still retain length.
• Protective style often. Cornrows, braids, twists are invaluable childhood hairstyles. Use them! Remember that since deep conditioning* will not feature in her regimen, it makes reducing manipulation even more important.
• You can blow out her hair on occasion to help with trimming or for a special event.
• Go for natural hair products where you can as kids have sensitive skin that may react badly to some ingredients, particularly fragrances.
• Go easy on the protein, with such a low manipulation regimen, she is unlikely to be losing a great deal of protein from her hair. For children, always err on the side of moisture.
I hope this really helps you if you are wondering what to do with your little angel’s hair. I know how stressful it can be when your child loses all their hair a few months after birth and it seems to take forever to grow back doesn’t it? But not only will it grow back, it will thrive if you are ready when the time comes!
Originally posted 2013-01-13 15:00:55.