How to wash your toddler’s hair without tears

How to wash your toddler’s hair without tears

Renee EllisonMar 15, '23

Someone asked, “How you would handle this?  A three-year-old hates to lose control when her hair is being washed in the tub.  Leaning backwards OR forwards -- neither way yields a more ready response.  She yells like someone is murdering her, no matter how gently it is done.  How ELSE would you get the shampoo on her and get it OUT of her hair? -- without letting her hair go dirty for two years.”

My friend replied:

I had this happen with two of my granddaughters. This is unusual, since children generally love water.  However, I believe it most likely happens when someone has either mistakenly or carelessly gotten soap in the child's eyes, and probably more than once.  It can also happen if there is too much water in the tub, and it makes the child fearful when being tipped back.  Now the child's trust must be regained.

It's bath time. The child is anticipating a bath, so it is important to wash the hair quickly first, and then the fun follows.  Put a little warm water in the bottom of the tub, just enough  to keep the child from chilling, but barely enough to lay them in and wash their hair.  They must lie down completely.  They cannot feel threatened by the amount of water in any way. (The promise of a special treat may be necessary, and even a second adult to hold, if it is too crazy, the first or second time.)

Pull the water with your hands onto the child's head to wet the hair, but only to the hairline, even around the ears.  Then soap, and quickly rinse in the same manner. (You'll have to lift the child's head a little to soap underneath, but do not sit them up in this process, or lift more than four inches.) For the rinse, move the less soapy water from the front of the tub to the back with a swish of your hand, then rinse. Now you are done, and it has only taken a couple of minutes. Make sure there is no soap or water running down as you sit the child up, and as you fill the tub for the child's bath. It's quick and easy, and the child will soon be over their drama, if there is no more trauma.

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