Washing your toddler’s hair can present an incredible challenge. Some toddlers take to it naturally, while others have a meltdown as soon as you move toward them with a cup of water to rinse off their hair.
If you have a little one with long locks, it can be even more challenging to get everything clean! As parents, we have tried many different techniques, here are a few that have actually helped us in washing toddler’s hair.
Why Toddlers Struggle with Hair Washing
First, we need to go a few reasons that your toddler may be struggling with getting their hair washed. (We realize there are way more than a FEW reasons).
You will probably recognize many of these common reasons for struggles with hair washing:
- They’ve gotten soap in their eyes in the past and associate hair washing with pain.
- They have sensory issues that make hair washing or brushing very uncomfortable.
- They’re fearful of water covering their faces (especially if they’ve inhaled water during hair washing in the past.)
- And the #1 reason, they have a mind of their own and are struggling to stay in control of their lives. On this particular day, they simply don’t want their hair washed.
Thankfully, we have found a few strategies that can help prevent bath time from turning into a tear-fest every night.
Tips to Make Washing Toddler’s Hair More Peaceful
It’s time to wash your toddler’s hair, and you can practically see the meltdown coming! While you’re certainly not alone in this struggle, there are several things you can do to make washing toddler’s hair easier.
Check your shampoo.
In many cases, using a shampoo that causes irritation to the eyes is the biggest culprit in bath time struggles. Take the time to check out your shampoo to make sure that it’s tear-free.
We also switched to using all-natural shampoo and conditioner, which has helped reduce tears from stinging shampoo.
Try different methods for getting your little one’s hair wet and rinsing it.
- Some toddlers will enjoy taking a shower, which will make the entire bath time move faster.
- Use a shampoo visor or a regular sun visor to help avoid their eyes when pouring a cup of water over their head.
- If they are open to it, have them lie down in the tub to get their hair wet. Then you can suds it up and have them lie down again. Is this the absolute cleanest way of washing hair – nope! But it may avoid them crying, and that is a win.
- Stick an object to the ceiling and have your child look up at it when pouring water on their head.
Change your timing.
Try washing your child’s hair first. That sounds like it will cause a meltdown but it may prevent hair washing from being associated with an end to the fun of bathtime.
Show them on a toy first.
In many cases, it’s less scary to see a doll or other toy go through the process of hair washing first.
In extreme cases, check the haircut. You might be reluctant to give up your child’s long locks, but it’s no surprise that the shorter the hair, the easier it is to get through washing their hair, brushing it, and other important daily grooming tasks. Going with a shorter cut until bath time struggles are over can make it easier on both of you.
Talk to your child.
Many toddlers are more articulate than we give them credit for and this was a game changer for us. We actually asked our child what would make getting their hair washed better. They said they wanted their dinosaur to wash their hair.
So Manny the Dinosaur started washing their hair every night. You just never know what may work.
If Your Little One Struggles with Sensory Processing
If you have a little one with sensory processing disorder, many of the normal methods above for easing the hair washing process won’t work for you. There are, however, some strategies that you can use to make it easier.
- Try using a water-soaked towel to provide calming pressure during bath time. This will help reduce stress and make hair washing easier.
- Wash less frequently. Your little one can survive with 1-2 hair washings a week.
- Add more sensory activities to your repertoire to make them more accustomed to those sensations.
Raising your toddler to adulthood may be a challenge. The good news is, by the time they grow up, they will probably be willing and able to wash their own hair! In the meantime, keep them safe in the tub and implement these strategies to make bath time easier.