When it comes to curly hair care in my house for my 3-year-old son (Cyrus) and 16-month-old daughter (Nazanin), my husband and I opt to keep things as simple as possible to maintain our sanity! While you may think the routines have to be dramatically different, I have found it best to follow the same formula for my son and daughter, making adjustments based on how much hair they have at the time. Here is a breakdown of the regimen that I have created for my children's curly hair.
Pre-Poo (Nazanin only)
Every time I plan to shampoo my daughter's hair I apply oil to her scalp, gently massaging it in and then applying about a quarter size amount to the palm of my hands and coating the length of her hair with it. I allow the oil to sit for about 10-30 minutes depending on the night, making it easier to detangle her hair when washing. Any oil that penetrates the hair follicle is good for pre-poo (Extra Virgin Olive Oil or our oil of choice Righteous Roots Pre-Poo Detangler which has a coconut oil base).
I wash both my kids' hair in the bathtub. My son actually enjoys having his hair washed now and allows me to gently scrub his scalp as I'm washing it! To avoid drying out their hair with the shampoo, I don't rinse and repeat, I simply do one pass with shampoo and move on to conditioning! We have two cleansing products we use right now, ORS Curlies Unleashed Curl Detangling Shampoo or Shea Moisture 2-n-1 Curl and Shine Shampoo and Conditioner. With the Shea Moisture 2-n-1, I rinse and repeat since it is a shampoo and conditioner combo (also a very moisturizing product); this also allows me to skip using a separate rinse out conditioner.
My daughter hates getting water in her eyes so I've recently started using a shower hat for her and it has made washing so much easier! It looks like a visor and it prevents the water from getting into her eyes since the water runs straight down the front. If you have a baby or toddler who is fussy when it comes time to wash their hair I would highly recommend this because it makes washing much less stressful!
When using ORS Shampoo I follow up with the ORS Curlies In or Out Conditioner. I apply it to Cyrus' hair using a circular motion to make his tiny curls pop if he is between haircuts. When his hair is cut low, I apply the conditioner in the same pattern we brush his dry hair to create waves. I only do this once and rinse it about 80 percent of the way since this product can also be used as a leave-in!
For Nazanin, I apply the conditioner to her hair, starting at the ends and then covering the length of her hair. Next, I comb through her hair (while conditioner is still in it) with the Ouidad Wide Tooth Comb and rinse it out. Depending on her mood, I like to repeat this process, but most of the time she only tolerates one time. If my son had longer hair I would do the same process for his curls!
To maintain moisture in my babies' hair, I practice the LCO method. If you aren't familiar with this method it is layering product in this order: Liquid or Leave-In, Cream and Oil. For both Cyrus and Nazanin's hair I make sure their hair is still wet from the shower (if it gets dry, I re-wet it with a spray bottle) which serves as the in this method and then apply a cream () or butter to their hair. Our favorite cream is Shea Moisture Coconut & Hibiscus Kids Curling Butter Cream or ORS Curlies Unleashed Twist and Curl Creme. Finally, I seal with an oil (), either JBCO or Righteous Roots Kids Pre-Poo Detangler which serves double duty!
The biggest difference in my children's hair maintenance is with haircuts. I allowed my husband to take the lead in deciding when to cut my son's hair. We both agreed to wait until after he turned one and we didn't feel like he needed a cut until he was about 20 months old. Now we cut his hair about once per month since it doesn't grow in terribly fast.
My daughter has not had any type of trim or cuts to her hair and I don't plan to do so until she is around 5 or sooner if I notice any damage to the ends. This is a personal preference, but it seems like the standard in the Black community. I had a conversation with my older sister Meisha, a mother of two girls with beautiful, healthy hair and she started at home trims on their hair around age 4.
I style my daughter's hair when we are going to the Kingdom Hall or in our ministry on Wednesday, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. While this may seem like a lot, I keep the styles very simple (i.e. two puffs, high puff, wash-n-go with headband, etc). I have attempted to style her hair for the week but she does not keep a bonnet on at night which causes the styles to come loose within a day or so! Cyrus is easy, we simply brush his hair daily before leaving home!
Overall, our routine has been very practical and easy going because my children are still pretty small! That will change over the years, but we are flexible and ready to adapt!
I'd love to hear from you all in the NaturallyCurly community, what are some of your routine staples and do you change it up if you toddlers?