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This is How to Untangle Toddler Curly Hair Without Screaming

“Flower, gleam and glow…Let your power shine…
Make the clock reverse…bring back what once was mine…”

If you recognize those song lyrics from the Disney movie Tangled, they probably conjured up the image of Rapunzel getting her impossibly long, lustrous hair brushed. It’s a pretty cozy scene. 

Cozy, sure. But realistic…? I’m not so sure.

If a camera panned out on your attempt to brush your toddler’s curly hair, I’m guessing things would look a bit less magical. Instead of a child sitting peacefully at your feet, your kid is playing a manic game of hide-and-seek to avoid the dreaded untangling. Instead of a lovely little song, she’s screaming every time you step closer to her.

And instead of magic, there are tears. 

Lots of tears.

Tips to Keep the Toddler Curly Hair Screams at Bay 

Dealing with your toddler’s curly hair can be challenging. Before you throw down your comb and decide your kid’s just going to sport various styles of “rat’s nest” for the rest of her life, try out these five tips:

  1. Find kid-focused curly hair products.
  2. Create a routine.
  3. De-tangle with care.
  4. Distract when necessary.
  5. Pick out fun accessories that won’t pull or flatten curls.

These tips are easy to implement, and, hopefully, they’ll make everyone feel less like screaming and more like singing when it’s time to take care of your kid’s hair. 

Toddler Curly Hair Tip #1:
Find Kid-Focused Curly Hair Products

All hair is not created equal, and that’s especially true when it comes to curly hair. Curly hair is prone to dryness, frizziness, and, you guessed it, tangles. 

Products not formulated specifically for curly hair can suck all of the natural oils out of those luscious curls, creating a bigger problem. Using products designed for curly hair will help tame tangles and frizz, meaning less tears for everyone! Check out these options:

Toddler Curly Hair Tip #2:
Create a Routine

You might be the mom who has a strict routine built into your days, or you might be the mom who’s more go with the flow and spontaneous. Whichever one you are, creating a routine when it comes to caring for your toddler’s curly hair is really important. 

Establishing a routine will help your kiddo know what to expect when it’s time to wash/comb/style her hair. This structure should help make the entire process less trying and who knows? Maybe this routine will become something both you and your child enjoy and look forward to.

Here are a few videos to help you create a toddler curly hair routine that fits your family best. 

Toddler Curly Hair Tip #3:
De-tangle with Care

This tip might just be the most sanity-saving of the bunch. Many a toddler will be fine and dandy with getting their hair washed but become as slippery as an eel when you try to get the knots out of their wet hair. It’s understandable–having to sit still while your hair is pulled isn’t exactly fun. But it doesn’t have to be painful!

First things first, don’t use a regular brush on your toddler’s curly hair. It will definitely not help with tangles, and it will make her curls flat and frizzy. Use a brush specifically designed for curly hair. This style will separate the strands of hair while leaving her curls intact. 

If you’re in the market for a brush guaranteed to help with tangles, check out the Tangle Teezer! Besides the original, which should work on all hair types, the brand also has one called Thick & Curly. If you’re looking for something a bit bigger, this Crave Naturals brush is perfect. 

Toddler Curly Hair Tip #4:
Distract When Necessary

Every parent knows that some days, you can do everything right, and your toddler is still uncooperative or this-close to having a meltdown. In the case of taking care of her curly hair, you could get that routine established, use the right products, break out a new detangling brush, and then, your toddler decides she is not going to sit still. 

If that is your dilemma every night after her bath, it might be time to distract her. Here are some ideas:

  • Pick out a special show or video she can only watch while her hair is getting combed.
  • Let her be a hairstylist on this Rapunzel doll.
  • Find fun books for her to read. Bonus points if they’re about curly hair, like this one or the hilarious story of a curly Moostache in bad need of a brush.

Toddler Curly Hair Tip #5: 
Pick Out Fun Accessories

Think back to the movie Tangled. When Rapunzel finally gets to the city, she is so excited that she runs around, wanting to see and experience everything. The only time she really pauses is when she lets some local girls braid and decorate her hair. Her long hair is no longer a burden to carry around, and it looks pretty darn good, too, with lots of flowers in it.

Letting your toddler pick out fun accessories that won’t pull or flatten her curls might be an incentive for her to not fight the routine of taking care of her hair. Check out these options that should work for your curly-haired girlie:

The Special Complexity of
Ethnically Curly Hair

While curly hair in general requires special care, multicultural hair is its own unique type. I reached out to several mothers who have experience with taming their ethnic toddlers’ curly hair. Here are a few of their suggestions:

  • MOISTURIZE!!! Don’t overwash it, but make sure it’s wet before trying to detangle. Personally I use lots and lots of coconut oil in her hair every day. It keeps her curls fresh and she smells delicious.
  • Set a routine. Salina is used to me doing her hair every morning. I love our special time together.
  • Make sure you’re using products specifically designed for kids. Some adult products will be too strong for kids. 
  • Don’t wash their hair every day! 
  • Of course I use picks, but someone told me about the “wet” brush and it was a game changer!
  • My favorite products are Mixed Chicks products, a silk hair wrap for nighttime, cloth hair ties, and coconut oil. 

Getting Untangled for Good

You are now prepared to face even the gnarliest of tangles in your toddler’s curly hair. Grab that new brush, slip on everyone’s favorite hair disaster and spend some sweet time with your curly-haired kiddo. Singing together is a surefire way to make the new routine fun! 

Do you have some toddler curly hair suggestions that we missed? Do everyone a favor and add them in the comments!

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