Many babies look forward to getting their hair washed as much as they look forward to bedtime, or tooth brushing, or any number of the thousands of other things that babies hate with the passion of 10,000 burning suns. Even if that’s the case for your little duckling, though, there are ways to help make this dreaded event a bit more welcome, or at least tolerable.
How to wash your baby’s hair
- First of all, don’t over-do it. Baby’s hair doesn’t need to be washed every day, or probably even every other day, unless he took up marathon running a bit early. In fact, washing his hair too often could lead to dry skin and discomfort, which won’t help him enjoy bath time any better.
- Baby’s sensitive skin won’t do well in very hot water. Water that feels warm but not hot to touch is ideal. Test the water with your elbow or the inside of your wrist. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for a baby. To avoid unexpected flashes of hot water, don’t put Baby in the water while the faucet is still running, and make sure to turn the cold water off last.
- With that said, stay warm! Most sources say your baby’s bath shouldn’t be deeper than 2 or 3 inches, which makes sense from a safety point of view, but can leave Baby in a drafty position. Make sure the room is warm before you start the bath, and consider using a cup to pour some warm water over his shoulders at intervals throughout the course of the bath so that Baby doesn’t get chilly.
- In fact, hair washing doesn’t have to happen during the bath at all, if Baby isn’t a fan of the water just yet. You can bathe Baby and then dry and dress him, and then wash his hair afterwards by massaging in the shampoo and then rinsing by tipping his head back into the faucet. You can check the temperature of the water in the faucet first in the same way that you do when running the bath–by testing with your elbow.
- Remember to shield Baby’s eyes with your hand when rinsing shampoo out. Just because Baby’s head is tilted back doesn’t mean there won’t be any stray drips.
- Save it for the end of bath time. A hatred of hair-washing is something that many babies have in common, so saving the shampoo for the end of bath time can help you avoid a conniption earlier on.
- Make sure the shampoo that you use is not just designed for babies’ more delicate skin, but also has a low pH. Shampoos with higher pH can make Baby’s hair tangled, which can drag out any bath-time non-fun a lot longer than it needs to be. The shampoo you use should have a pH between 4.5 and 6. Check the shampoo’s label for its pH level. If you can’t find it there, check the company’s website or call their information line.
- Maria Fernanda Reis Gavazzoni Dias, et. al. “The Shampoo pH Can Affect the Hair: Myth or Reality?” International Journal of Trichology. 6(3): 95-99. July-September 2014. Retrieved June 28 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4158629/.
- “Washing and bathing your baby.” NHS Choices. Gov.UK, October 1 2015. Retrieved June 28 2017. http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/pages/washing-your-baby.aspx#close.
- “Ready, Set, Bath!” Healthy Children. American Academy of Pediatrics, November 2 2009. Retrieved June 28 2017. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Ready-Set-Bath.aspx.