Caring For The African-American Infant’s Hair
How can you not think of your baby as a real, living doll?! Her chubby cheeks are so cute you can pinch them, and his little toes are so….you get the idea. You can barely stop yourself from dressing them in cute little get-ups before running to whip out the old Nikon for the 74 thousandth time. Baby adoration extends to – and can almost be dominated by – the desire to make your baby’s hair look its best at all times. As hard as it will be, you’re going to have to step away from the comb and resist the urge to do too much to your baby’s hair.
You need to pay close attention to how you take care of your baby’s hair, but you don’t have to do too much to it. Those times will come later, and you will remember with longing when you didn’t have to do too much of anything to make your little darling’s hair look beautiful. Some African American babies are born with nary a strand of hair on their heads, while others burst into the world looking like they’re wearing wigs. For both babies, the regimen is simple.
Always keep in mind that your baby’s tender, soft scalp is still in the early stages of development. It’s still very fragile and cannot withstand the stress that comes from too much pulling and combing. You also shouldn’t use many of the products that you use on your own hair. Many of those products are too heavy for young tresses and can weigh them down, putting undue stress on developing follicles. Those same products may also contain ingredients that could cause scalp irritation and rashes. With babies and hair care, less is always more.
Washing Your Infant’s Hair
- Choose a mild, gentle baby shampoo and apply a small amount to your baby’s scalp. Adult shampoos have higher pH levels than baby shampoos, and those higher levels can cause a baby’s hair to tangle. Use baby shampoo or the mildest regular shampoo you can find. Using a soft cloth or your hand, gently smooth the shampoo over the baby’s head. You’re not trying to work up a lather, but instead merely allowing the shampoo to remove and dirt and oil that may have built up.
- Remove the shampoo with lukewarm water. Follow up with a mild conditioner, especially as your baby gets older. For babies with longer hair, use a wide-toothed comb to – gently – work out any tangles. As your baby’s hair grows, it may become thicker, curlier, and more prone to tangling and dryness, and will benefit from the conditioning properties of a mild, moisturizing conditioner.
- After the wash, you may want to apply a dab of natural oil like extra virgin coconut oil. Oils like this can help keep your baby’s tresses from drying out. Run your fingers through your baby’s hair to style, or use a soft brush or wide-toothed comb.
Styling Your Infant’s Hair
‘It may be hard, but you should try and resist the urge to style your infant’s hair except for events like picture day or special outings. There is plenty of time for that later. This is the time in baby’s life when the hair can and should be for the most part be left alone.
- Styling products, or accessories like barrettes or beads, can cause stress and damage on an adult’s hair, so imagine what it can do to an infant’s hair. Don’t use rubber bands. They pull and break the hair right off, even on an adult’s head. Instead, use accessories like coated hair ties that are specially made to protect the hair from damage.
- Don’t pull your baby’s hair back in too tight a ponytail because it will break off right at the hairline. If you want to pull the hair back, loosely hold it back using a silk-lined hairband.
Shedding “Baby” Hair and New Growth
Your baby may shed hair in the first six months, and the new hair that grows in its place may be a different texture and color than the original hair. This is completely normal and should not be a cause for concern. If the new hair is dry, you will need to make sure that your baby’s receives plenty of moisture and conditioning from natural oils and conditioners that infuse the hair with moisture as well as seal it in. Don’t resort to chemical processes on your child’s hair (people have done it!). You will permanently damage your child’s hair.
Many African American babies get cradle cap, which tends to show up in the first six months of life. It presents as scabby, crusty areas on the scalp. It’s very common, and usually goes away by itself. Check with your baby’s doctor to confirm that’s all it is, and then just take care of the area by gently rubbing it with a soft cloth when cleaning the scalp. You can also use a softening oil like coconut oil to sit on the area for about 30 minutes to soften the area. Do not rub or comb the area to hard, which may lead to irritation.
African American Babies: Hair Care http://www.babycenter.com/0_african-american-babies-hair-care_10330036.bc