‘We dread washing our daughter’s hair and all the kicking and screaming that goes along with it. Is there any way to get around this struggle?’
‘If only,’ many a parent has mused, ‘a child’s hair could be slipped off for washing and combining, and then replied.’ That being impossible, hair-washing-scarred parents have to resort to other techniques for surviving shampoos. For example:
- Keep it short. The shorter the hair, the shorter the shampoo. If your toddler’s hair is long or hard to deal with, seriously consider an easy-care short cut.
- Make a gentle choice. Always choose a shampoo that is fragrance-free, and non-irritating to the eyes.
- Start off tangle free. Baby-fine hair tangles when wet, so combo your child’s hair before shampooing to minimize the post-shampoo struggle with tangles. There’ll be less tangling, too, if you ‘pat’ the shampoo through the wet hair gently, rather than working up a lather fiercely.
- Streamline. Make sure at the outset that everything is in readiness (water at the perfect temperature, shampoo and a towel nearby) so that neither of you need to endure the shampooing ordeal any longer than necessary. You reduce the number of hair-washing steps, use a one-step conditioning shampoo instead of shampoo plus conditioner. Or spray on a no-rinse detangler after you’ve rinsed out the shampoo.
- Keep those eyes covered. Even a ‘no-tear’ shampoo (even plain water, for that matter) can produce tears. Protect your toddler’s eyes with a shampoo visor (it looks like a topless sun hat and is available in many children’s specially stores, as well as through some mail-order catalogues). Or, have your toddler hold a flannel across her forehead to protect her eyes or try a child-size snorkeling mask or swimming goggles to keep the eyes dry.
- Control the rinse. A hand-held spray nozzle offers more control, and less risk of a misdirection mishap. If you don’t have a hand-held shower nozzle, use a child’s plastic watering can. After shampooing, your toddler can play with the watering can in the tub.
- Give her a turn. Your toddler may feel less victimized if she’s allowed to shampoo someone herself-a doll or a bath toy with hair to shampoo. She can use the watering can, too. Or try the distraction technique.
- Let her watch. Mount an unbreakable mirror in the bath so shampooing can become a spectator sport. Making ‘suds sculptures’ with your toddler’s hair (but try to avoid creating tangles) can also be diverting. Encourage her to sculpt her doll’s hair into interesting shapes with suds, too.
- Don’t overdo it. Unless the weather’s hot or your toddler’s hair is unusually oily (or matted with food), one shampoo a week is enough.