Baby Hair Grease & More: Caring for African American Baby Hair

In search of the best hair product for African American baby hair? There’s a lot of confusion out there about baby hair grease. What kind is best, and how often should it be applied? This guide to black baby hair care is designed to help you keep your little one’s scalp and hair healthy. Let’s get started!

What’s Different about African American Newborn Hair?

African American babies are sometimes born with very little hair, and sometimes born with lots of curly or wavy hair. It’s always a surprise to see how much hair your baby has at birth! Usually very thick, black baby hair sometimes has a soft texture, although there are babies born with coarser hair. Whatever its’ texture, this beautiful hair requires special care so that it grows properly.

The reason why black baby hair is often prone to damage and breaking lies in its unique curl pattern and texture, as well as the fact that African Americans naturally produce less scalp oil than most other people. This is a blessing since there’s no need to shampoo daily or even every other day, but it’s also a bit of a challenge as hair can become dry and brittle without oil. Luckily, it’s very easy to add moisture with the right type of baby hair grease.

When does African American Baby Hair Texture Change?

Since hair care routines vary depending on texture, length and personal preference, the issue of black babies’ hair texture change is on many parents’ minds. Since we’re all individuals and two sets of unique DNA contribute to each of us, there’s no single answer to this common question. In general though, black baby hair texture change tends to happen gradually, with the final wave pattern being established around four years old and sometimes even older.

A baby’s hair follicles are still developing during infancy. Many babies from all backgrounds have thinner or even bald spots where hair hasn’t grown in, usually around the sides and/or back of the head. Most babies have more hair on top of their heads than around the sides, and the top of the hair usually grows faster than the rest as well, simply because those follicles are fully developed.

Most babies shed some hair during their first six months, and the new hair that comes in is likely to be a different texture even if it isn’t the final adult texture. Over time, your baby may have quite a mixture of textures in their hair – it’s completely normal and part of the growth process.

Ultimately, genetics are to thank for African American baby hair texture from the very start, all the way to its final, beautiful natural texture.

Black Baby Hair Care Basics

The way you care for your little one’s hair can affect how fast it grows and how healthy it is. If your little one has cradle cap, which is a type of dermatitis that causes crusty-looking yellow, white, or even red patches on babies’ scalps, check with your pediatrician before addressing it. Most of the time, it’s harmless and will go away with time and care. So long as your health care provider agrees, you can loosen flakes by moisturizing with olive oil or coconut oil for about 30 minutes before very gently shampooing or using a soft brush to work them away. Don’t scrub or rub hard – this will cause irritation and make matters worse.

Newborn black baby hair doesn’t need much washing. Most of the time, it usually needs to be washed just once a week or every two weeks, using a very mild baby shampoo that won’t cause scalp irritation or lead to stinging if bubbles accidentally get into your little one’s eyes. If possible, it’s best to use a baby shampoo formulated for African American babies.  

If your baby’s hair is very coarse, you might not need shampoo at all; instead, you might want to do a “co-wash” meaning wash with conditioner.

Once your baby is older and you’re using some styling products in their hair, you might need to use a clarifying shampoo to deal with any buildup. At most, this deeper cleaning should happen just once every three to four months.

How to Wash an African-American Baby’s Hair

Your little one’s hair might already have some tangles, but don’t give in to the temptation to try to work these out while the hair is dry. This is almost guaranteed to cause breakage and make matters worse. Instead, start by positioning your baby so their head is tipped back at a comfortable angle. A special baby bath support is very helpful since it frees your hands. Older babies and toddlers will appreciate a little bit of extra support too – an inflatable bathtub that fits inside your bath or shower provides some cushioning and makes it easier to maneuver during bath time even when hair isn’t being washed.

If your little one is old enough to lie still and hair is getting longer, you might want to layer a few towels on a countertop next to a sink. Have them lie on their back with their head near the sink and carefully wash the hair that way.

Next, apply warm water and smooth the baby’s hair back away from their face. After the hair is fully wet, apply just a little bit of shampoo if needed and gently massage, again moving back away from the face. Afterward, rinse away all the shampoo, going in the same direction as before.

The Easiest Approach to Black Baby Hair Care

After wetting or washing comes the process of applying products designed to ease out tangles and provide moisture. Before you get started, let’s take a second to discuss your approach to this task. Be sure to use a very gentle touch as you work out any knots. It might be helpful to talk or sing to your baby as you work on their hair! This is a great opportunity to bond, and it sets the stage for a future where hair care feels like a fun, caring ritual instead of a challenge that everyone dreads. Little ones learn by experience so from the very start, treating the hair gently pays off in terms of less breakage and more cooperation.

As baby’s hair gets longer, the process of detangling and styling may take longer than an hour depending on how often you decide to work on their hair and which hairstyle they wear. If detangling and styling is going to take a while, you might find it easiest to work on their hair while they watch TV, or even while they nap.

It’s important to remember that accessories like beads, barrettes, and rubber bands can damage hair and even cause it to break off at the scalp. Baby afros need frequent combing, but they’re the least damaging of all hairstyles.

Apply a Baby Detangling Product

After washing or wetting the hair, you’ll want to apply a little bit of detangler or slippery leave in conditioner to the hair before you start to work on any tangles. We’ll talk about some of the best hair products for black babies soon but for now, let’s focus on your technique.

Depending on your baby’s age and hair length, you’ll probably find it’s most convenient to section the hair so that it’s easier to work with. Little clips are perfect for baby afros since they don’t break hair the way that elastic bands do. If hair is just a couple of inches long, you can probably get away with dividing it into four sections. If your baby’s hair is longer, you’ll probably find that smaller sections are easier to work with.

Once hair is sectioned, apply detangler to the section you’re working with. Use a wide-toothed comb to work out any tangles, starting with the ends of the hair and moving closer to the scalp until you can easily comb from root to end. After each section is done, clip it so that it’s out of the way while you’re working on the next section.

Apply Baby Hair Grease

The product you choose should be formulated for your baby’s hair texture. Some natural hair babies do very well with jojoba oi, almond oil, virgin coconut oil, or avocado oil. Whatever you do, try to avoid products that contain petroleum jelly or mineral oil. These were popular in the past, but these days we know that they can clog pores and cause more problems than they solve, so they’re best left on the shelf.

Whichever brand or type of baby hair grease you choose, focus on drier areas toward the end of the hair first, since these need the moist moisture. Use a tiny bit closer to the scalp. You can always apply more if needed!

Whether it’s short and curly, a little straight, or in an adorable little afro baby hair usually needs to be treated with a little oil at least two to three times per week. The more you work with your baby’s hair, the easier it will be and the less you’ll have to work out tangles.

More Ways to Keep African American Baby Hair from Tangling

Whether you love the natural look of baby afros or if you prefer the convenience of braids or afro puffs, it’s a good idea to use satin sheets and pillowcases to keep hair from getting frizzy overnight. If it’s too hot for satin or you prefer natural cotton sheets, you may want to think about covering your baby’s head at night. This can help cut back on frizziness and prevent split ends while helping your little one’s hairstyle last longer between detangling.

If your baby’s hair is long enough to braid, be sure to leave the style in place for two weeks or less. Braids and plaits can start to loc up or bind together around the three week point, after which the hair has to be cut. If you do need to have your little one’s hair cut for any reason, look for a salon that is familiar with black hair, and be sure that the stylist is experienced with children.

Best Hair Products for Black Babies and Toddlers

Adult hair care products are too heavy for baby hair, and weighing down hair puts stress on little follicles that are still developing. Some ingredients that help make adult hair manageable are too harsh for baby’s tender scalp, and these can lead to irritation and rashes.

Natural olive oil or coconut oil is ideal for young babies who don’t have much hair; it moisturizes wonderfully and it never leaves residue behind. Depending on your baby’s hair length, you might be able to use a soft brush instead of a comb, or you might even be able to use your fingers to create simple, cute styles.

Cantu Care for Kids Tear-Free Nourishing Shampoo

Designed just for curly, wavy, and coily hair, this gentle, tear-free formula gets excellent marks for moisturizing hair while leaving it fresh and clean. For little ones with longer hair, it has a good reputation for adding some definition without weighing hair down. When dealing with very dry or brittle hair, many users follow up with a light conditioner or a touch of oil. Cantu Care for Kids isn’t just a good shampoo for African-American babies; it’s also popular with adults.

Cantu Care for Kids Leave-In Conditioner

This formula is designed for a variety of textured hair types. It contains nourishing, natural coconut oil, shea butter, and honey. Cantu Care for Kids Leave-In Conditioner doesn’t last as long as heavier formulas on very dry hair, but it gets high scores from those who are dealing with average to wild curls that aren’t overly dry or brittle. Some adults who want a lighter formula enjoy using it on their own hair.

Cantu Care for Kids Conditioning Detangle

One of the most popular detangling sprays on the market, Cantu Care for Kids Conditioning Detangle is specially designed to meet the needs of textured hair. Not only does it receive rave reviews for its ability to transform dry, tangled hair, it’s also gets a high score for preventing breakage without leaving greasy residue behind. Quite a few parents love this detangler so much that they use it for themselves as well as their little ones.

Cara B Naturally Leave-In Conditioner and Daily Moisturizer for Babies and Kids

With natural ingredients including jojoba and shea butter, this leave-in conditioner from Cara B gets an outstanding score for leaving hair feeling soft and manageable while easing out tangles. Parents love how easy it is to apply, as well as its reputation for moisturizing without leaving greasy residue behind. The scent is pleasant and gentle, and the formula is tear-free. A few adults have tried it on themselves with mixed results – it’s designed for kids, so it doesn’t have very much hold.

Soft & Precious Moisturizing Cream Hairdress

This product is popular not just for its pleasant fragrance, but also for its ability to moisturize dry baby hair. A few people found that the moisture level wasn’t high enough for extremely dry hair, but most gave high scores for conditioning and detangling. Soft & Precious Moisturizing Cream works well on babies and toddlers alike.

Whether you choose premade products or go with a natural solution, the time you spend caring for your baby’s hair is always well-spent. With a gentle, patient approach and perhaps some experimenting to see what works best on your little one’s hair texture as it changes, they’ll look and feel their best!