"Your daughter's curls are so beautiful!" And they are — downright gorgeous. Soft, blonde tendrils that, at 2 years old, now reach her shoulders and bounce when she walks. I adore each one. Of course, I also know the flip side of those dreamy ringlets, the one that involves me imploring her to just sit for two more minutes so I can run a comb through her hair. When it's wet, her hair is a matted mess that clings to her head and I know the whining is inevitable. But how can I manage my toddler's hair without tears?
Zaida Khaze, New Jersey-based mom of two and creator of Wiggletot Diaper Changer, tells Romper that her experience with her two daughters' curly hair has made her a pro at taming tresses. Her top tip? Comb hair in the bath while conditioner is still in the hair. She recommends using a wide tooth comb and then rinsing conditioner when finished. Khaze also sprays a bit of leave-in, frizz-taming treatment on her hands and smooths it through her girls' hair once they are out of the bath.
Of course, while it seems a given that a curly-haired kid might take issue with combing through tangled hair, little ones with straight hair also don't care for sitting through grooming sessions. No matter the type of hair your child has, Betty Ceus-Gillespy, founder of Natural Bunch Hair Care for Kids, says parents are surprised to learn that they should comb hair from tip to root (as opposed to the more standard root to tip). Like Khaze, use a wide tooth comb to "carefully loosen any knots or twists, then hold section of hair while combing from bottom upwards," Ceus-Gillespy tells Romper in an email interview.
Kate Orson, author of Tears Heal: How to listen to our children, says parents can also incorporate a few effective techniques to manage toddlers' hair in order to make it more playful. For example, Orson tells Romper, have your child's favorite stuffed animal "help" with hair brushing and you will find your child is more likely to cooperate. Orson also recommends what she calls "Giggle Parenting," or a method that uses "the power of giggles to melt away a toddler's grumpy mood."
Orson explains the method with the following scenario: When it's time to comb hair, a parent can act playfully serious and say "now it's time to brush your hair," but then proceed to pick up random objects instead of a hairbrush, like a book or pair of pajamas, and start brushing. "Then suddenly 'realize' your mistake, and act all confused and surprised, then try again." Continue making "mistakes" until you eventually transition to actually brushing your child's hair.
"When we invest a bit of time in play and fun, it can actually make our child cooperate in a much shorter time than if we try and nag and persuade them," Orson adds.
It's not always easy — sometimes you just want to brush their hair and be done with it — but these small changes do make a difference. One of my daughter Claire's favorite "giggle" moments after bath time is seeing how many times she can lap our dining room table while still naked. I coax her into hair brushing by saying, "first we comb your hair, then you run." She is usually too excited to get going to fight me on it.
Of course, a few helpful hair products help, too. Our favorites include the Mixed Chicks kids shampoos and hair products, especially the Tangle Tamer. We also adore the Honest Company's Conditioning Detangler, plus it smells so freaking good.
As for my girl's curls, I know there might come a day when she doesn't have them and I will miss each and every one. For that reason, I don't let the tears over combing her hair diminish my love for her ringlets. It doesn't hurt that she looks pretty darn cute with 'em too.
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