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The Complete Guide to Toddler Curly Hair

Does your toddler have curly hair? Get the best hair care tips and tricks to caring for your little one’s curls.

Curls were a mystery to me.

My hair is thick and wavy.

My first child had thin, straight hair.

When my second daughter’s hair starting growing out curly little ringlets, I was at a total loss for what to do with them.  In the beginning, I treated her hair just like her sisters, but it started to frizz and knot together.  It was then I decided to do a little research.  Her curls were beautiful, unruly, and here to stay – so I needed to learn how to take care of them.

How to care for toddler curls, curly, hair, toddler hair, baby hair, frizzy hair

The World of Curly Hair Maintenance

Have you ever heard the expression of ‘going down the rabbit hole’? 

Curly hair maintenance is definitely one of those topics that have seemingly endless amounts of information. One topic leads right to another and another and the next thing you know, you’ve spent hours on the internet.  I read all about special techniques, tools, and products that can help curly haired people keep their hair looking it’s best.

During my travels through the internet, I never found an article specifically on toddler/kids curls, which I found odd. I took away a lot of great information, but many of the methods were definitely not going to be do-able for a wiggly toddler.  So, I did a little picking and choosing according to the what I thought would work best for my little one and we started experimenting.

We spent a couple of weeks trying out a few different methods. I think we now have a good routine in place that is not too time-consuming or messy. Overall they have made a huge difference in the look and feel of my daughter’s hair.  

Hair Care Routine for Toddler Curly Hair

Hair Wash

In order to provide as much moisture as possible to her hair, we skip the normal shampoo and conditioner routine.  I wash her hair with conditioner only.  Obviously, conditioner doesn’t provide any suds, so I make sure to scrub the scalp well with my fingers.

I will only use shampoo in her hair if she has gotten hard to remove things stuck in it like food, clay, or dried mud (you gotta love those messy toddlers *sigh*).

After washing her hair, it gets a dime-sized dollop of the Baby Sprout Curl Calmer.  This stuff is amazing.  Not only does it smell incredible, but it prevents curls from frizzing as they dry.  I quickly work that through her hair and brush it with the Wet Brush or a wide tooth comb.

Once all the knots are out, I use my fingers to twist small sections of her hair in whatever direction it naturally curls.  This sounds tedious, but as long as you do it while the hair is still damp, it really only takes 5 minutes.

After that, let the hair air dry. No extra towel rubbing, it’ll simply undo all your efforts!

Morning Maintenance

In a perfect world, curly hair shouldn’t be slept on.  It flattens the curls, creates frizzy hair, and can be drying.

Curly girls often tie up their hair on top of their head at night to protect their curls while they sleep.  Depending on what article you read, this can either be called “pineapple” or “plopping” your hair.

This really isn’t an option for my daughter, as she is a crazy wild sleeper.  So I just let her do her thing and sleep with her hair down.

In the morning, I use the California Baby detangler spray on her hair.  This detangling spray is not the perfect choice because it contains alcohol, which can be drying.  I have not found another I like as well yet, so we are just going with it.

I brush out the tangles with the Wet Brush and repeat the after the bath process: a dime-sized amount of Baby Sprout Curl Calmer then finger curl small sections in the direction her hair naturally curls.

Additional Maintenance

There are other times throughout the day that I have to fix my daughter’s hair.  After naptime, after playing outside, before the family goes out to dinner… stuff like that.  When we need to do a little cleanup, I have a super easy homemade conditioner spray that I use to moisturize and re-set her hair.

DIY Conditioner Spray (Leave-In Conditioner)

Shake the bottle well before each use.

I spray this all over her hair, finger comb, and re-twist any sections that need it.  The added moisture will help to calm the hair back down and stay in its curly place.

How to Detangle Curly Hair for Toddlers?

Again, in this perfect world that we don’t live in, you should not detangle or brush curly hair in between washes. It should really be done only when washing the hair. If you can manage this, great. If you can’t, then generously spray the hair with the conditioner spray and brush or comb as your normally would to detangle the hair.

Products for Curly Hair Toddlers

You can probably swap out some of these items for brands you prefer.  I am listing them simply because these are what we have experience with and I have found them to be non-building.  We can use these products on my toddler’s hair for several days in a row, and it still feels soft and clean.  It does not get heavy or sticky with hair product.

Tips for Curly Hairstyles

There are a ton of cute accessories for kids hair, but they don’t all work well for curly hair. We stick to using thick hair ties, so they don’t get knotted in the hair and cause breakage.

I really try to avoid hair elastics on my curly girl, they just turn into a mess I have to untangle later.

Headbands and metal clips work great for us, but we try to avoid the ones with teeth or spring hinges, which get caught in her super curly hair.

Will My Toddlers Hair Stay Curly When They Get Older?

Not necessarily. Some kids do get to keep their curls, but often, baby curls fade away after the toddler stage. It’s pretty common for kids hair to change in texture, thickness, and overall volume as they get older.

Will Toddlers Curls Grow Back if I Cut Them?

If your child still has fine, baby hair, then yes the curls will likely grow back. If you notice that their hair is changing in texture or thickness, they may not return.

Does Cutting the Hair Make it Grow Back Curlier?

From what I understand, the act of cutting the hair doesn’t really create any more curl.

Weight plays a big role in curly hair. If it is too weighed down, then the curls will elongate and eventually flatten out or look more like waves than curls. Trim the hair to a shorter length or removing some of the weight by incorporating layers at your child’s next haircut can help to encourage curls.

Naturally Curly Hair Care Final Thoughts

My daughter’s hair has literally transformed after implementing these habits.  Her hair is no longer dry, frizzy, and unruly.  It looks shiny and healthy.  Her curls hold in place well now, aside from sleep and rough outdoor play.

These actions only take a few minutes each day, and they have been 100% worth the effort.

Again, I would like to stress that I am in no way and expert on this topic. Just a lady with the internet and the patience to learn a few new tricks. I can only hope that this information can help someone else who needs it.

I’d Love to Hear From You!

Now it’s your turn.  Do you have a child with curly hair?  How do you tame their mane into place?  Did you try any of my tips and tricks?  I’d love to hear more suggestions on what works for your kiddos.

Until next time,

Melissa, xoxo, Sign off

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