Do’s and Don’t’s of Taking Care of Afro Baby’s Hair

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In my time within the natural hair kids space I’ve received tons and tons of questions. Surprisingly enough, a lot of those questions involve how to properly take care of an African American baby’s hair. The reason why getting these questions is so surprising is because from when your child is a newborn to around four or five months of age, taking care of an African American child’s hair should be a breeze!

I think parents of African American children put so much pressure on themselves to start their child’s natural hair journey off right. Nowadays you’re inundated with so much information regarding natural hair; it’s hard to know when and where to begin. The reality is, whether your child is born with a full head of hair or a few random strands – in the beginning – you really don’t have to do too much to it at all.

Babies have very sensitive scalps and their skulls are soft and still developing. Pulling or tugging on the hair and using heavy products just isn’t a good idea. You’ll have plenty of time for that; and you’ll be wishing for the days when a little baby shampoo and a drop of oil were all you needed to set your child up for maximum hair growth. (Because that is really all you need.)

Here are a few more do’s and don’ts regarding African American baby hair care.

Don’t use the same products that you use on your hair on your baby’s. Most products that are formulated for adults have chemicals in them that are way too harsh for a baby’s head of hair. Using adult products (even certain mild ones) on your baby’s hair can cause your baby’s scalp to become irritated and could even cause rashes and excessive dryness.

Do use a mild sulfate free baby shampoo on your baby’s hair. Cara B. is a great line that’s formulated with African American babies in mind.

Do keep your baby’s hair and scalp clean, but don’t over wash. Given that newborns and infants have sensitive skin, you’ll only need to bathe them a couple (no more than a few) times per week. As far as their hair is concerned, you’ll probably only need to wash it once per week. Over washing can cause dryness which isn’t good if you want your baby’s hair to grow.

Do be gentle. As I mentioned before, your baby’s hair and scalp are still super soft and sensitive. Use shampoos sparingly and lather it in gently. Rinse with lukewarm water; and if your baby’s hair is long enough to need detangling, use a wide toothed comb and detangle gently starting from the ends.

Do use a little oil after washing, but don’t overdo it. Extra virgin olive oil is great for babies as it’s relatively light and works wonders at sealing in moisture. A dime size amount should be more than enough for a newborn or infant with a TWA (teeny weeny afro). Use a soft baby brush to distribute the oil evenly.

Do be on the lookout for your baby’s hair to make “the change”. During the first few months, your baby’s hair still has the residuals of all of those good “juices and berries” that were in your belly. It will be soft, shiny, and seem easy to manage; but after a few washings, your baby’s true hair texture may begin to reveal itself. It may be drier and retain moisture less easily. Don’t panic; but you do need to take action. You may simply want to consider going ahead and adding a moisturizer to your baby’s hair care routine. Soon the real fun with your child’s hair will begin. 🙂

african-american-baby-hair-care-timeline

My little one’s hair journey thus far 🙂

Do resist the urge to “style” your baby’s hair daily. I know how stinkin’ cute they are, but barrettes, and hair clips should be saved for special occasions only. At this time in your baby’s life (from newborn to around six months) it’s your best bet to just leave your child’s hair alone and just let it “do what it’s going to do”. Over manipulation and the use of heavy barrettes can snap your baby’s hair off right at the hairline.

If you feel like you need to add a girly touch to your baby’s tiny fro, use a satin lined headband making sure that it’s not too tight, and that’s it’s removed once your event or picture taking is over.

Don’t panic if your child has a spot in the back that just “won’t grow”. It’s actually more common for newborns and infants to have a bald spot in the back then you think. Babies sleep on their backs a lot, and that friction can do a number on the back of a baby’s hair. Once your baby starts spending more time on their belly, chances are that that spot will fill in beautifully – without you having to do too much to it at all.

If the bald spot is something that really concerns you, consider having your baby sleep on a satin baby blanket.

Do you have any “do’s” or “don’ts” when it comes to your African American baby’s hair care? Let me see them in the comments!

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About Author

Creative director, graphic artist, wife, and most importantly, mother to two Afro Babies - Kesha Phillips has appeared on shows like CBS Better Mornings Atlanta and AMHQ with Sam Champion featured as a parenting and lifestyle expert. Find Kesha all over the web sharing her knowledge and opinions on parenting, family life and social issues.

34 Comments

  1. Hello I was wondering what you do so your child’s hair doesn’t get knots while sleeping I find that’s a huge issue with my sons hair is once he sleeps his hair becomes a mess , also do you know some good products to use in between washes so his hair stays nice I love his hair long but I’m having so many issues I feel like I may have to cut it if I can’t figure out what to use on his hair I feel like I’ve tried everything but it keeps drying out and getting matted

    • First, if his hair is long enough, you should secure it each night in loose twists or braids and have him sleep on a satin pillowcase or satin sheets. That will cut down all of your nightly tangles. Sleeping with hair “loose” will always lead to excessive dryness and tangles. As far as products, it really all depends on his hair type, texture and porosity, but you can check out this page for some leave-in recommendations: https://myafrobaby.com/type-4-afro-babies/ Hope that helps. 🙂

  2. Hi, this post was very helpful, however i do have a couple questions?

    Have you done any research on grapeseed oil in relation to infant hair?

    Do you have any more product suggestions i.e. shampoo,conditioner,moisturizer?

    Thanks!

  3. hi nice post but I was wondering a couple things. I been using Shea moisture kids shampoo, conditioner, and leave in only once a month, wash only once a month since she been born she is 9 months now, and I use warm water and jbco daily with the she moisture butter cream is that ok for her? and yes she sleeps with a satin pillowcase and satin bonnet every night.

    • JBCO is a pretty heavy oil so if you’re using it daily, you may want to consider adding a clarifying treatment to her regimen soon. You can check out this post for details on that: https://myafrobaby.com/clarifying-hair-treatment-afro-babys-hair/. As far as whether or not the specific brands are okay, you’ll have to make that determination over a period of time. Product selection is always about trial and error as your little one’s unique hair type, texture, and porosity will dictate what works and what doesn’t. 😉

      • ok thanks 😉 but I also want to know what about deep conditioners? SBB is it ok I introduce and how often? right now she is 9 1/2 months n I do use everything natural like the Camille good naturals

  4. Hello, I was wondering if you could give me some advice. My baby is nearly 6 months old and her hair is growing on top but not around the sides and back. My partners family have suggested we cut the top hair so that it all grows evenly. But not with scissors, they suggested using a hair razor. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Would you recommend doing this?
    Thanks in advance,
    P.s, I find your Website very helpful!

    • Hey,

      My girls have hair all around the top but the back and the side is not growing as much, in fact one the twins hair at the back and the side is bald. And yes they do sleep on the back at the moment, and they are also 3 months. I really don’t know what to do as I feel they are too young and I might not be able to use any products for their hair. The hair also gets really incredibly dry after even moisturising it frequently. HELP PLSSSS

      • Everything you’ve described is NORMAL for that age group. Just breath and relax. The “fun” part will start soon. Wash weekly and then seal the moisture in with a natural oil like extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. (Test the coconut oil on a small patch first to gauge any allergies.) That’s truly all you need to do at this point. If you like, having them sleep on satin crib sheets should help with the friction and tucking a satin blanket around the head of their car seats helps as well.

    • Glad you like the site!
      Cutting the hair even is a personal choice that really is up to you. It’s something that happens to be a tradition in a lot of communities. Do your research and see if you can find someone in your area that may have experience trimming or cutting baby’s hair; or if nothing else, do a quick YouTube search to discover the best/easiest ways to go about it. Good luck! 🙂

  5. Victoria Washington on

    I want to know what about deep conditioners? when is it ok that I introduce and how often? right now she is 9 1/2 months n I do use everything natural I wanted to use the Camille good naturals deep conditioner

    • Introduce when YOU feel it’s necessary. If her hair is chronically dry, and you feel that she can manage a plastic processing cap on her head for 15 minutes or so, feel free to try! You’re creating this unique regimen based off of your child’s own unique needs. Try all natural at first and see how it works for you. There are some organic conditioners on the market as well if you don’t have the time to make your own. I’ve heard good things about the conditioner you mentioned. Try it and see how it works for her. 🙂

      • To answer your question regarding how often, again, that’s up to you. Noticing a trend? lol. There is no definitive answer to your questions because the answers are all dependent on your child’s own hair needs. Start with once a week. If her hairs starts feeling limp and gummy, decrease deep conditioning to once every two weeks or once a month. This is all a journey of trial error and research. Good luck! 🙂

  6. Hi, I am a foster parent of a 1 and 2 year old boy. I have no idea how to take care of their hair. I’ve been washing their hair daily, but after reading this article, I’m not sure that’s what I should be doing. Both have very soft hair. One has very tight curls, the other loose curls with a lot of straight strands. Any guidance would be greatly appreciated. Also, why satin sheets? Thanks

    • Right, washing daily isn’t good because it removes the sebum from the hair which is something textured hair needs. Wash no more than once weekly and the hair should be sealed with a natural oil like extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil after washing. Satin sheets are used to reduce friction and dryness. 🙂 Keep reading and researching momma. You’ll get it.

  7. Hi. My 10 month old daughter has a head full of thick hair. The problem is that it’s super dry. I can only manage to comb it when it’s wet. What can I do about her dry hair?

  8. I have a question my babies hair has fallen out in the front along her hair line I believe from doing ponytails too tight in the front. I’ve been told to just leave her hair alone now. But her hair is soooo dry do you think it’s best to just let her wear a fro and leave it alone or is it best to do a protective style to retain the moisture she’s 10 months.

  9. My baby is 11 months ..she is my first kid, I dont really know how to take care of hair, my mom isnt able to help… Due to personal reasons. How am I supposed to take care of her hair what is the routine? I have used cantu products but i heard it had too many chemicals, I tried baby oil but it just makes her hair dryer, I bought organic virgin coconut oil but it doesnt make her hair soft, its still feels frizzy and dry. Did I not put enough? Or did I put too much? Please help, it seems loke when I take a step forward i get knocked 3 steps back ,I would like to try olive oil but I dont know which brand to get or what kind.

    • My baby was born with really course hair I first always spritz hair with a water/oil spray the. I use natural oil mixture and then i follow with whipped she’s butter it softens her hair and allows me to comb it out and style.

  10. Hi, my son is about too be 1 1/2yrs old and I wanted too know how often should I do the liquid and oil regimen I wash his hair only once a week and add a soft oil too it but the next few days his hair seems dry should I do this liquid and oil everyday and get him some silk crib sheets too lay on or a satin pillow case also too prevent dryness

  11. Hi! Im a FTM and my baby is 7 weeks old. I made the mistake of over washing and her hair it is now dry. What are some good moisturizers. Considering her age..? Thank you in advance.

  12. ELEISHA EVERETT on

    Hello!

    This was very eye opening. I too am a FTM and i have a 1 year old son whose little curly fro is growing. I noticed that a “dont” is not to use the same hair products i use. Lately his head has been itching and i think it is due to a few of the donts i did.. 1- washing his hair too much so it may be dry scalp 2 – using moms hair products..too harsh on his scalp 3 – no satin sheets/pillow case ..will be buying one!

    So now i am slightly freaking out because my son’s head is itchy and i want to correct that mistake ASAP 🙁

    Please help with any advice!

    Thanks

  13. Hello, enjoyed the article. I have a 3 year old daughter and sometimes I feel like her hair is not growing as it should. I wash her hair every 2 weeks and I use the LOC method after washing it and put her hair in twists. I usually try to do styles that last a full week and throughout the week I may need to redo two or three ponytails, but for the most part little to no manipulation. The oils I use are castor oil and sometimes jojoba oil. Do you think the oils are too heavy for her hair? Also I may grease her scalp every other day because her scalp seems really dry at times. I use Shea Moisture Shampoo and Conditioner for her hair. Is she too young for a deep conditioner? Any advice or comments are appreciated.

  14. I have a 3 year old baby, the front and the back hair lines are scanty, but the center hair is full. Please how can i help all her hair to grow evenly. i really admire kids with full hair lines

  15. Hi I love your blogs. Question, my daughter is is 19 months and she has two different types of texture hair. I’m trying to find the right products. It Is fine and curly and also kinky straight in some places. Her edges are also very fine and curly and won’t stay in place. I am only using coconut oil and cantu detangler. Can you give me any suggestions

  16. Hi. My daughter had full hair but at seven months I was washing her hair daily and styling it daily too until I realised all the hair at the back and sides have thinned out. my sister told me to wash her hair once and use castor oil, natural Shea Butter and coconut oil mixed together on the hair. Do you think these will help?

  17. Krystal Drayton on

    Hello, My 1 year old daughter has hair in the front but barely any hair in the back… I would braid her hair but I don’t know if I can catch the back… I want to do hairstyles on her so that I would not have to touch her hair for a minute.. but I literally do not know what to do… can you give me any suggestions to promote healthy hair growth for her… also my son 3 yrs old has a head full of hair but in the back its thinner than the rest of his hair… what can I do about that as well… thank you

  18. My son is 2 months old, I wash his hair once I week with baby shampoo and oil it immediately after washing but he has dry, flaky scalp and sweats bad…. it’s pretty for a day or two then the flakes start again and his scalp is visibly dry. What do I do?

  19. My son is 2 months old, I wash his hair once I week with baby shampoo and oil it immediately after washing but he has dry, flaky scalp and sweats bad…. it’s pretty for a day or two then the flakes start again and his scalp is visibly dry. What do I do?

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