18 no-tears toddler hair care solutions

Washing and combing your toddler’s hair usually result in tears, but these toddler hair care solutions will help you set things straight. By Licia Selepe


As your little one becomes a toddler, her hair will grow longer and will be more prone to tangling and knots. An easy hair-care routine will help you manage her hair and prevent any tears. “Taking special care of a child’s hair and scalp is vital, as it’s sensitive, fragile and hasn’t matured yet,” says Tebogo Jersky Lehutso, technical educator at Smooth ’n Shine.

Beat washing battles

Almost all toddlers go through a stage of not wanting to have their hair washed. This may be because she’s previously had shampoo in her eyes or mouth, or doesn’t like to put her head under the water.

  • Distraction is key: Even those toddlers who enjoy splashing about at bath time sometimes don’t like having their hair washed. Mbali Mncwabe, owner of Kiddies Korner Hair Salon in Johannesburg, advises parents to try their best to make it as tearless as possible. “Engage with your toddler, talk her through the process, or sing a song together while you’re washing. Turn it into a fun experience.”
  • Avoid the eyes: Toddlers are curious and they can’t keep their eyes closed – no matter how many times you tell them. Rinse her hair while she’s leaning back so that you can avoid getting water or soap in her eyes.
  • Keep it minimal: Mbali says if you know that your toddler doesn’t like her hair being washed, don’t do it too often. Tebogo agrees: “Wash your toddler’s hair twice to three times a week using moisturising shampoo.”

Products to help

Shampoo shields fit on your toddler’s head like a cap or sun visor, shielding her eyes from water and foam. Shampoo cap, R99, 4akid.co.za

Shampoo rinsing cups have a ridge that follows the curve of your toddler’s forehead. ClevaRinse Shampoo Rinse Cup, R109, takealot.com

Dealing with knots and tangles

  • All toddler hair is prone to knots and detangling them can become a huge task for parents. Follow these tips to make it a little easier.
  • Comb hair when it’s wet: “It’s easier to brush your little one’s hair when it’s still wet. As soon as you’re done washing and conditioning her hair, comb it with a wide-tooth comb and get the little knots out before they become big knots,” says Mbali.
  • Trim it: With the right haircut, your toddler’s hair should be relatively easy to care for. If your child has curly hair, you may want to keep her hair all one length with no fringe to avoid tangles and knots. If your child has very thick or wavy hair, a layered haircut can help cut back on tangles.
  • Detangle the knots: Coarse and curly hair can tangle easily. Mbali offers this advice:
  • Consider using a two-in-one shampoo that provides the convenience of shampooing and conditioning in one easy step.
  • For hard-to-manage hair like coarse ethnic hair, you can use a detangling spray. This can be used on wet or dry hair, so you can apply it and comb your toddler’s hair even on days when you are not washing it.
  • For extra conditioning while detangling, try a leave-in conditioner. Brush from the ends of the hair first, moving upward toward the scalp.
  • Use a wide-tooth comb.
  • Apply a bit of oil or lotion to the hair to help detangle locks.
  • The earlier your little one starts to learn to do her own hair the better. Let her comb one side while you do the other.

Toddler hair care products

Detangling spray: Sprays are effective if used immediately after the hair is washed. Johnson’s Baby Soft & Shiny Easy Comb Spray, R31.95, from selected retailers, helps to unlock knots and tangles and makes combing tight curls easy.

See: JOHNSONS’S® Baby Soft & Shiny Range Review

Conditioning shampoo: Conditioner makes brushing easier. Try Dark and Lovely Beautiful Beginnings 2-in-1 Easy Shampoo, R37.99, Clicks, which is enriched with soothing aloe and coconut oil.

Detangling brush: You may have to try a few brushes to figure out what works well for your child’s hair. Wide-tooth combs and brushes with soft, yet firm, bristles are a good place to start, such as the Haylo Detangling Hairbrush, R160, takealot.com

What to avoid

  • Relaxing the hair of children under the age of 12
  • Braiding or twisting the hair too tight
  • Pulling the hair too tight when tying ponytails
  • Detangling the hair from the root. You’ll just make tangles worse and it will be more painful for your child. Instead, begin at the ends and slowly work your way up the hair shaft, gently pulling apart knots with your fingers
  • Colouring and bleaching kids’ hair.


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