Most kids don’t like having their hair brushed because it hurts,” says Daniela Serban, a manager at Melonhead kids’ salon in Mississauga, Ont. And after rolling around in bed all night or playing all day, it’s common for little ones to have tangled tresses. But, there are some things you can do to prevent knots and make brushing more fun.
Before you brush, spritz a leave-in conditioner or detangling spray through the lengths of your little one’s hair. (This will also add moisture, which over time should prevent future knots, since dry, frizzy strands are more prone to tangles.) Avoid using round brushes or ones with coarse bristles, like you might use on yourself when doing a blow-out, since they can be rough on kids’ scalps and make knots worse. Opt instead for a paddle brush with soft plastic bristles or a detangling brush specifically designed for tangle-prone kids’ hair (products like Knot Genie or Tangle Teezer are available in most haircare aisles and at beauty supply stores).
This may sound counter-intuitive, especially if your little one starts screaming and foot-stomping when she sees the hairbrush coming, but keeping tangle-prone strands smooth is essential for quicker and more positive experiences over time. Serban recommends brushing twice a day, in the morning and before bed, to prevent big knots from forming in the first place. When you brush, start halfway down the hair shaft, as opposed to at the crown. Hold all of the hair in one hand, then brush gently, in small strokes as you work the tangles out, making your way down to the ends. (If your child’s hair is very thick or coarse, work in sections.) Once the lengths of hair are smooth, run the brush from the crown of the head through to the ends, to finish the job.
Sing a song while you brush (something from a favourite movie can distract a fussy toddler). You can also set up a “hair salon.” Wrap a towel around her shoulders, spritz her hair with water or leave-in conditioner and lay out fun accessories like colourful elastics, bows and clips for her to choose from. If your child is still unsure, practice on a favourite dolly first. “Some of my clients have said watching a YouTube video of little kids having their hair styled has helped, too,” says Serban. If your toddler still isn’t convinced that brushing her hair is fun, just keep trying. “Most kids will outgrow this eventually,” she says.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, Spring/Summer 2018