I’ve Had Natural Hair for 10 Years. So Why Is Styling My Baby’s So Hard?


On top of that, being Black and a new mom, I was afraid of being judged because of how my daughter’s hair looks. For years Black women have had to deal with social prejudices around wearing our hair in its natural state. Society has deemed this unprofessional or “unkempt.” Even as these discriminatory beauty ideals have finally begun to evolve, it’s been a struggle to embrace how I see myself and how I wear my hair.

I don’t want that for my daughter. I want her to wear her hair proudly and know she’s more than her hair. Recently I’ve been reading the book Hair Love, which celebrates a little girl’s natural texture and all the ways her hair is special, to Sophia before bedtime. I want to instill in her that no matter what her texture is, her hair is beautiful all the same.

And yet, for all the articles and message boards I found on children’s hair, I couldn’t find any resources specifically on Black babies’ hair. So one late night I went down a hole on YouTube—which, as a new mom, is basically my solution to everything now. There I found several videos from Black mothers who were experiencing the same issues I was. I just felt so comforted to know I wasn’t alone and that they had real advice beyond “this happens.” 

Ten months later and after a few trials and errors, I finally have a better understanding of how to care for my now two-year-old’s hair. Every other Sunday she gets excited when I tell her it’s time for her wash day. As I let her pour the water over her own head, I’ll ask her questions about what she likes or what book she wants to read. She’ll hold her rubber bands for me as I stretch out her curls. And when it’s finished, she’ll look in mirror and say, I look pretty. 

It makes me proud to feel like I’m sharing something with her and that I’m teaching her to love her hair. And now, if another new parent is looking for advice for their Black baby’s hair, I can share what actually helped.

Wash once every other week.

I used to wash Sophia’s hair once a week, but quickly realized this was too much. It was drying her scalp out, which caused dry patches. Now we wash and condition every other week with the Shea Moisture Kids line, and in between washes I touch up her hair with African shea butter mixed with organic coconut oil. 

Sheamoisture Extra-Nourishing Shampoo for Kids

Sheamoisture Sulfate-Free Conditioner for Kids

Find a gentle detangling brush.

This detangling brush was chasing me all over Instagram, and so I finally decided to buy it. It’s an absolute game changer. It’s an all-plastic brush with soft, flexible bristles that puts minimum pressure on your hair and scalp. I use it after I’ve washed Sophia’s hair and while the conditioner is still in. It detangles with ease and prevents breakage.

Flexi Detangling Brush 4C Hair

Section and stretch out curls with hair ties.

This technique is a great way to stretch a toddler’s curls without using heat. After I’ve conditioned and detangled her curls, I part her hair in six sections and use black elastic hair ties to hold her hair in place. It takes about 20 minutes, and I do this while she watches her favorite show (which is currently Blue’s Clues and You). This style can last about a week or so, then I usually take it down and cornrow her hair or remoisturize and put it back into this style.

This technique makes it so much easier to do my baby’s hair.

Invest in a shield hat for wash day.

Despite my daughter’s affinity for taking baths, anytime I’d try to wash her hair, she would cry, scream, and kick. She just couldn’t deal with water cascading down her face. This shield hat that her aunt found on Amazon is a lifesaver. It’s flexible, sturdy, and adjustable, so it keeps water and soap from flowing into your baby’s eyes and ears. It’s turned a wash day that was once almost intolerable into a fun experience for both of us.

Soft Adjustable Bathing Hair Shield

Cynthia Simpson is a casting producer for Condé Nast. Follow her on Instagram @naturalcyn.


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