A baby is born with a fixed number of hair follicles which determines how much hair they will have in later life and whether they will have straight or curly, thin or thick, coarse or fine hair. The following habits should be cultivated in a child from an early age regardless of their hair type:
- Drinking a sufficient quantity of water daily
- Washing hair regularly
- Leading a healthy lifestyle
- Avoiding excessive use of heating tools like a blow dryer, flat iron, etc.
- Wearing protective styles
It is a formidable task to style a baby’s hair especially if the baby has natural hair. Despite its complexity, it is something no parent is willing to compromise on. Before you explore the various natural hairstyles that will make friends and neighbors notice your baby’s hair, it is important to learn more about natural hair and how to care for it.
What is natural hair?
Natural hair is basically hair that has not been exposed to chemical treatments, relaxers, or texturizers for the purpose of altering the hair’s texture or natural curl pattern. To put it simply, natural hair refers to curly, kinky and coily hair, which is also known as Afro-American hair.
This hair type is more difficult to manage because it is drier and more prone to breakage. Long and regular exposure to heat from hair tools, harsh chemicals, and tight hairstyles lead to breakage. Product build-up and dandruff are other more common and pressing issues with natural hair.
Retaining moisture in the hair is key to smooth and impeccable styling for natural hair. A pH balanced shampoo followed by a deep conditioner can help to restore moisture to thirsty natural hair. Natural oils like shea butter and argan oil also help to tame Afro-American hair during styling. Hair experts recommend something widely known in the beauty industry as protective styling for natural hair.
What is protective styling?
Highly recommended for natural hair, protective styling refers to a vast array of hairstyling techniques that protect natural hair strand for strand. It involves concealing the tips of natural hair as a way of avoiding prolonged exposure to physical and chemical manipulation and environmental stress. Precautions taken to mitigate heat damage from hair tools (for example, using a heat protectant) are also an integral part of protective styling.
By tucking away the ends of the hair, a protective style eliminates the need for constant upkeep, stimulates growth retention, and minimizes knots. There are 2 protective styles for natural hair. The table below uncovers their points of difference:
|PROTECTIVE STYLES AND THEIR DIFFERENCES|
|No-manipulation Hairstyle||Low-manipulation Hairstyle|
|Require daily attention||No||Yes|
|Easy to install||No||Yes|
|Examples||Braids, Weaves, etc.||Twists, Buns, etc.|
The following rules of thumb will help to optimize protective styling:
- To prevent dryness and brittleness, moisturize your child’s natural hair regularly with oils.
- To prevent dirt and product build-up, wash your child’s hair regularly with a moisturizing shampoo.
- To prevent knots, breakage and hair loss, do not leave the protective style in for longer than 7 days.
- When removing the protective style, apply a deep conditioner to your child’s hair for manageability.
Natural hairstyles for babies
Afro-American hair can be just as stylish as other hair types. All you need to do as a parent is abide by some basic guidelines for styling your child’s natural hair. Applying pomade that has been specially formulated for children is a brilliant first step in natural hairstyling since it assists in keeping the hairstyle throughout the week. There are many different natural hairstyles to choose from. The table below lists a few basic Afro-American hairstyles along with their variations where applicable:
|NATURAL HAIRSTYLES FOR BABIES|
|Afro puff||Can be decorated with band, bows or flowers||No||Pony hawk and perm rod curls, Mohawk|
|Cornrows||No||Curls and cornrows,
Cornrows with heart design
|Braids||Yes||Braided Mohican, Beaded braids,
Braided top knot,
|Two-strand twists||Yes||Sister twists,
Side ponytail with twists,
Two-stranded twists with a rose,
Flat rope twists
Bow ponytail updo,
The above list is only the tip of the iceberg. Two or more of these hairstyles can be combined to give your child such exciting fusion styles as:
|FUSION HAIRSTYLES FOR NATURAL HAIR|
|Protective braided bun||Braid & Bun|
|Box braids in bun ponytail||Braid, Bun & Ponytail|
|Box braids with a side ponytail||Braid & Ponytail|
|Bun ponytails with bows||Bun & Ponytail|
|Crisscross braided ponytails||Braid & Ponytail|
|French braids with a twist out||Braid & Two-stranded twist|
|Cornrows with twists||Cornrows & Two-stranded twist|
|Cornrows and twists with ponytails||Cornrows, Two-stranded twist & Ponytail|
Styling tips for baby’s natural hair
When styling your child’s natural hair, be sure to do the following to avoid damaging your child’s hair:
- Start with the hair close to the neck.
- Comb from the bottom up.
- Use a wide-toothed comb, paddle brush or broad bristle brush to negotiate difficult knots with ease.
- Use a detangling spray or conditioner to detangle your child’s hair without breaking it.
- Use the comb nozzle attachment when blow-drying your child’s natural hair.
Is it safe to blow-dry baby’s natural hair?
A baby’s hair dries very quickly on its own, so there is seldom any need for a hair dryer. However, a child with natural hair might need an occasional blow-dry particularly on wash days and when getting dressed for a party. Child-friendly hair dryers are now available in supermarkets, drugstores and online. Since they are low-power appliances, they are safe for children.
Since young children’s hair is extremely delicate and sensitive, safety concerns are legitimate. To avoid burning the hair and scalp of your child, the following advice must not go unheeded:
- Only blow-dry your baby’s hair if they are 2 years of age or older. Children below this age can suffer burns to the scalp.
- Your baby must be capable of sitting steady on the floor. This position is safe for blow-drying.
- Prior to blow-drying, detangle your child’s hair by combing it while it is still wet.
- Use the hair dryer on the cool or the lowest heat setting for your child.
- Hold the hair dryer at least 6 inches away from your child’s head.
- Never blow-dry your child’s hair near water or in a damp area. Humidity can create short circuits.
- Never leave your child unattended near the hair dryer or any electrical appliance for that matter.
- Pretty Boss TV, 5 simple & fast Natural Hairstyles for Babies & Toddlers!, Jan 20, 2016
- Allure, 15 Dope Ways to Style Your Baby Hair
- Tolani Shoneye, 15 Stylish But Practical Afro Hairstyles For Your Little Girl, 26 June 2015