Toddler Curls

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

After I posted our family photos the other day, I got an e-mail from a woman named Jamie (Hi Jamie!) asking me how we care for Nora's curls. I thought it was a good question, because well, I still wonder on almost a daily basis whether I am actually doing it right.

I never really expected Nora to have curly hair. Remember when it looked like this?

{Baby-pattern baldness, 4.5 months old}

Poor kid. But once it started growing back in and evening out, things were looking better. And during Nora's first summer--especially on the humid days--we started noticing a single curl that would form on one side of her head.

{You can sort of see it here, on the left (her right) side}

But even last December, things had only progressed to here:

{This is when I joked that she had Beiber hair}

It was mostly straight, with just a few soft curls on some of the ends.

My mom has naturally curly hair (VERY curly), so maybe I should've seen it coming. But somehow, this year, as it grew and grew... we ended up here:

{An Instagram pic from earlier this summer}

{Family pics from a few weeks ago}

It doesn't always look that nice, of course.

When she goes to bed every night, it looks like this:
And then EVERY.SINGLE.MORNING when she wakes up, it looks like this:
Bedhead is a powerful thing.

Anyway, so here's what I actually do. We shampoo every night (with Burt's Bee's Baby Bee Shampoo). After bath, I towel dry her hair. I use the Target hair detangler spray (found in the baby aisle), spray it over her still wet/damp hair, and then I comb it out.

Now, all of you curly-headed people out there are probably ready to pounce on me about combing it, right? I've heard that you are NEVER really supposed to COMB curly hair. But I'll tell you what: Nora gets some nasty knots in her hair. If I didn't comb it, and simply used a pick, I'm convinced she would end up with a rat's nest. Or dreads.

Once it's combed, I usually "scrunch" it with my hands quickly, and off to her room she goes for the rest of her bedtime routine.

In the mornings, I don't fully brush or comb it again unless I'm putting it in a ponytail or full pigtails. Otherwise, I just gather some hair at the top of her head and will sometimes comb that piece out if I need to smooth it out, then put a ponytail holder in it. I've mostly been using these miniature no-slip rubberbands (but the ones I buy are by Scunci), but now that she has more hair and doesn't need as much "grip," I've been experimenting with others, since the Scunci ones almost always rip out some of her hair when we remove them at night. Her hair is still ALWAYS in her face if we leave it down, so I put it up every day. I just don't know what else to do with it right now.

So, what do you say, fellow moms of curly-haired kids? Or those who have curly hair themselves? Is there something I could/should be doing differently?

It'll be interesting to see what happens to her curls as she grows. Her hair tends to be sort of straight/wavy at the beginning of the day, but gets curlier as the day goes on. I don't know if the curly hair is here to stay, or if it's just for her childhood. If they're temporary, I will sure miss them when they go. :(


Melissa September 19, 2012 at 9:14 PM  

I have curly hair, as does my 22 month old daughter, Rowan. I only comb my hair in the shower, otherwise it's ruined. I can only wash my hair in the morning and then after scrunching dry (usually best with a t-shirt) and putting in leave in conditioner, I let it air dry.

That said, for best results for Rowan's thinner hair, I wash Rowan's hair each night, comb it with a wide-toothed comb only (prevents tearing, but gets knots out), then in the morning, I use an organic leave in conditioner to "wet" her hair again and scrunch it (or wide tooth comb it again if needed) before I either put it up or pull it back with a bow.

Tiffany September 19, 2012 at 9:16 PM  

This gives me hope for my girls. You remember Nolan's head of hair, yes? Well, the girls resemble Nora in those early days much more closely than they do Nolan in his early days! I've been wondering if it'll ever grow in. They have one long "patch" in the middle/top of their head... sigh. LOL

Tiffany September 19, 2012 at 9:34 PM  

Right now we wash every other day (eczema issues) and use California baby conditioner. You can rinse it out or leave it in. While her hair is nice and greasy we comb out the knots then rinse her hair about half way leaving some of the conditioner in. This has worked better than the spray detangler for us. In the mornings sometimes I spray water on her head to tame the bed head or just go for pigtails.

Jenn and Neena Mae September 19, 2012 at 9:39 PM  

Neena is just now starting to get curls and we do the same thing you do. She's bound to have really curly hair because Jake and I both have very curly hair. I had to giggle when you talked about combing her hair. I always comb my hair when it's wet but a comb never goes through it when it's dry--hello,frizz!!!

Jenn and Neena Mae September 19, 2012 at 9:42 PM  

I should add that with my hair I never use shampoo because it's super drying and curly hair tends to be naturally dry. I condition wash my hair every three days (basically just cleaning hair with conditioner) and I use hair products free of sulfates and silicones so there is no build-up. My curls have never looked better. The Giovanni hair products are AMAZING!

Katie September 20, 2012 at 7:20 AM  

First of all, Nora has gorgeous curls!! For my own hair, I brush my curly hair while it is wet and use John Frieda's Frizz-Ease curl spray (it's awesome) although I wouldn't recommend it for Nora this young (just a tip for the future...)

I think your routine is great, although I maybe wouldn't shampoo as often because her hair/scalp could become too dry. Detangler is a little curly-haired girl's BFF! for reals lol
Also, as another future tip, as Nora's hair gets longer, you could braid it at night, while wet (whether french braid, or low pigtails) & she will wake up without any knots... then you can mist it with a little water and scrunch it quickly in the morning. Hope that helps!

Jamie September 20, 2012 at 8:24 AM  

Thanks for this post Heather! I'm going to follow all the responses. My DD Peyton is almost 16 months & has some wild curls. She has lots of hair, but it hasn't really started getting the length yet like Nora's. Right now we only wash every few days with an extra conditioning shampoo. Then I comb while wet with a wide tooth comb & put in some kids curl stuff or sometimes my MoroccanOil! In the morning I always have to spray with water to control it.
I'm looking forward to reading more tips.

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