As a dad of two–each with wildly different hair–I know that when it comes to newborn textured and afro hair, keeping it knot/tangle free, hydrated (without it looking greasy), and getting through the hair care routine as quickly as possible is essential–especially once they begin to crawl and walk! It can be difficult for new parents to figure out what products and how to care for their hair.
As founder of afrodrops (a Black-owned online hair care shop), I want to empower all people with natural afros and textured hair to make afro-centric haircare more accessible.
The hair type of your baby can be different (and can change too).
Yes, they share the same Dad and Mom, but their hair textures, colors and porosities are very different. This means that even though we use the same products, my children’s hair behave very differently.
Although genetics are a major factor in hair type, your baby’s hair (and their more mature hair as they age) may be very different from yours. Just because products are effective for older siblings or your hair doesn’t necessarily mean that they will work well for your baby’s hair.
It is delicate hair for newborns. Therefore, it pays to start a gentle routine and make sure your baby has healthy hair.
Remember that your baby’s hair could begin to fall around 8-12 weeks old and start growing back around 6 months. Their hair may change over time, and it could be thicker and thinner for up to 24 more months.
Hair porosity is a big deal
Understanding your baby’s hair porosity is the most important step in understanding their hair. This should not be confused with their curl pattern. Many parents make the mistake of choosing products that are based on their curl pattern, but neglect the importance of hair porosity.
Knowing your baby’s hair porosity will help you determine the best hair products to use as their hair grows, thickens, and changes.
Low porosity hair may be easily overwhelmed by oily products that too heavy or greasy and leave it looking greasy. High porosity hair may need richer/oilier products. Lighter products that are suited to low/medium porosity will likely leave hair dry and brittle.
How do you tell the difference? How fast or slow your hair reacts to water is called hair porosity. High porosity hair is when your baby’s clean, unprocessed hair absorbs water quickly. Low porosity hair is characterized by a temporary water repelling effect or a slow rate of water penetration. Here’s an example of low porosity hair that shows a water-resistant effect when dry.
Low porosity hair tips
Avoid using hair butters because they are too heavy for low porosity hair. They can cause a greasy feel and buildup that looks like dandruff.
Avoid heavy oils such as castor oil/black casting oil. This will prevent hair from becoming greasy. Lightweight oils such as avocado oil or grapeseed oil are better. Use sparingly (once to twice per week) on wet hair.
- Use water-based leave in conditioners.
- Use the L.C.O (leave in conditioner, cream, or oil) method
- Reduce co-washing by shampooing and conditioning your hair once per week or as often as you need.
- Tips for high-porosity hair
- Use richer conditioners to hydrate your skin better.
- Hair butters can be used to seal in moisture.
- To seal in moisture, use oils that are more rich (coconut oil, black castor oil).
- Co-washing is an option.
- Use the L.O.C. method (leave in conditioner, oil, and cream.
- Purchase a Detangling Brush
For detangling curly hair, a Tangle Teezer is a great choice. It’s easier to use with shorter hair than the EZ Detangling Brush. To give your baby extra detangling power, you can comb through your baby’s hair while conditioner is on. This will reduce pulling and pain, as well as make it easier to get through knots.
To reduce the tangling and knotting while your baby sleeps, you might consider using a satin/silk slip for their cot.
How Often Should You Wash Your Clothes?
A good rule of thumb is to wash your baby’s hair once per week. Too often washing your hair can cause dryness, brittleness, and increase the likelihood of breakage.
We understand that babies can get soiled with everything from milk to poop, and everything in-between. To clean baby’s hair between washes, I recommend using a gentle cowash. This will remove any dirt and soil from the hair, but not wash away their natural oils.