Caring for Little Curls: Tips for Parents

Photo by: @eyeforebony

We receive a lot of DMs from parents caring for their children’s curly hair. To learn a little more about this part of our Instagram community, we ran a short poll.

one-third of parents said they had straight hair while their children have curly hair.

about 40% of parents said they don’t feel satisfied with resources available to them to help them care for their child’s hair.

When asked what challenges they encounter, some responded:

They aren’t sure how to maintain their child’s curls after wash day without washing them daily.

Their child dislikes having their hair washed.

Their child doesn’t like their curly/afro hair.

Detangling is time-consuming.

We’ve written this article to answer some of the questions we receive and to offer some simple tips and tricks. We like to say a successful hair routine involves the 3 P’s: Positivity, Planning and Products

Positive Mind, Positive Thoughts

Photo by: @eyeforebony

Start with a positive outlook and use positive language. Curly hair requires more preparation than straight hair. If you have straight hair and your child has textured hair, you might encounter challenges or become frustrated when caring for their hair. One thing to understand is your approach, particularly language and mood play a major role in your child’s self-esteem. Remember words have the power to inspire, motivate and persuade people, so use them wisely.

If you’ve ever said the following phrases, we’ve offered you some alternatives below: 

Instead of: Her/his hair is difficult to deal with. 

Try: I’m learning how to best to care for his/her beautiful curls, it’s been challenging, but we’re getting there.

Instead of: Her hair is unruly, wild, messy.

Try: Her hair is voluminous, beautiful, free, unique, etc.

Instead of: It takes forever to do her hair.

Try: We have a decent hair routine and while it takes a bit of time, it’s a moment for us to bond. 

Plan Your Routine and Try to Stick to It

I hated wash day as a child. It took hours because my hair was (and still is) really dense. My Mom worked long shifts and the simplest solution for her was to straighten my hair with a hot comb. Thinking back, though I hated the process, I loved the opportunity it gave me to have one-on-one time with my Mom. I come from a family of four kids, so those moments were rare. All of this to say, wash day truly is a moment for you and your child to spend some quality time together. Moreover, it’s an opportunity to teach your child about self-care. In my house, we call it “me-time”, I put on music or an audio book, load the tub up with toys and let them have their moment. When they’ve had their fun, I do their hair and we chat together.

The amount of time that you wash your child’s hair depends a lot on their hair type and length. Typically curly hair gets washed as much as twice a week to as little as every other week. Remember, curly hair tends to be on the drier side, so it doesn’t require daily washing.

Here’s an overview of my kid’s washday schedule:

shampoo. 1-2 x per month – remember shampoo dries out curls so we don’t do this often.

condition/detangle. 1 – 2 x per week.

hydrate. apply a leave-in conditioner to wet hair (done after rinsing out their conditioner and sometimes after refreshing their curls).

deep condition. 1 – 2 x per month, especially during winter months when the air is very dry.

refresh with a spray bottle. as needed. If their curls feel dry I give them a light spritz for a moisture boost.

protective style. each time I wash my daughter’s hair I put her hair in one or two loose braids. I do let her wear it out if sometimes, but upkeep is easier when it’s tied up. For more information on protective styles, check out our previous post.

Products Make the Difference.

Generally, if you have a good conditioner and leave-in conditioner, you’re good-to-go. Make sure the product doesn’t have silicones or a lot of chemicals. Our leave-in and conditioner are gentle and simple enough for kids and adults, as well as for all curl types. If my kid’s hair is on the drier side, leaving their conditioner on for 10 minutes extra while they play in the bath, generally does the trick.

If you have curly hair, you might have a bottle of shampoo that lasts 6 months to a year and use a conditioner per month. That is too say, we don’t shampoo our hair often. For my kid’s hair, my husband and I, alternate between Weleda shampoo formulated for babies and a gentle solid shampoo. Currently, we are trying a local brand, Mellow Skincare that offers a zero-waste shampoo bar, gentle enough to use on curly hair. The founder, Angela, has a little one with curly hair.

Whatever you decide to do, try to use products from companies that value sourcing ingredients that are not harmful to your little ones.

Two extra P’s Worth Mentioning

Keep your routine simple, give yourself a pat on the back for raising strong, confident little ones and stay PATIENT. Eventually, you will find what works best for your and your family.

Also, my kids love to be involved in taking care of their hair, so allow them to PARTICIPATE as well. This can be as simple as spritzing their hair with a spray bottle. My kids think this is hilarious. Or detangling a small section of their hair in the bath.

photo by: Olivia Bauso

Helpful Resources

That’s it. We hope that we kept it simple enough. Below you’ll find a list of resources, in French and English. We’ve kept it short because with Google most of us can seek out what we need.

  1. Mahine Stylist, a Swiss curly hair stylist. Follow her on Instagram for inspiration and tips, during the quarantine, she’s offering video tutorials upon request.
  2. Youtube channel by Linda Barry, a mom based in Switzerland. She has some video tutorials with her adorable toddler.
  3. Some videos of parent’s wash day routine for different hair types (we don’t endorse all of the products used, but the technique is excellent)!

loose curls: Video °1, Video°2

tight curls: Video °1, Video°2