4 kids smiling candidly.
4 kids smiling candidly.

As your little one graduates from baby to toddler to big kid, their hair changes too—here’s how to care for it.

Maybe your baby was born with a gloriously thick mop of hair; maybe they were born with, well, absolutely none at all. But whatever baby hair your little one had (or didn’t have!) when they came into the world, you’ll start to notice hair changing over time as they grow from the delicate little creature you first met to a brave, boisterous toddler and finally an independent big kid. But how do you know when to switch from baby-friendly shampoo to kids' hair care? And how does newborn hair actually change as kids get older? Well, let’s break it down.


 Are babies born with hair?

Newborns often have their own special kind of hair—all over their bodies! The medical term for this newborn hair is “lanugo.” Lanugo is fine, soft, usually unpigmented hair that babies develop all over their bodies before they’re born; it’s thought that lanugo helps the protective, moisturizing vernix coating cling to the skin. 

In the few weeks before birth, babies shed most of their lanugo—but some babies (especially ones born early) still have this soft layer of full-body fuzz when they enter the world. This special newborn hair naturally sheds in the first days and weeks as babies grow, so your big goal right now is to help support babies’ developing skin. Because newborns’ skin is so delicate and doesn’t produce much oil, make sure that whatever shampoo and body wash you use won’t strip much-needed moisture from hair and skin; a sponge bath or bath every few days is enough. Our clean, tear-free Baby Shampoo + Wash is sulfate-free, supremely non-irritating, and comes in a fragrance-free version for the tiniest, most sensitive littles.


Do babies need their own hair products?

There’s a reason we always talk about baby-fine hair—it’s because babies are known for extra-delicate, wispy strands in the first year or so of life. Gentleness is key when it comes to baby hair products: that baby hair isn’t exactly the strongest (that’s why you might notice young babies developing a bald spot where their heads rub against their bassinet or crib). Our baby-friendly Shampoo + Wash is made with our ultra-moisturizing hero ingredient, squalane, to maintain the moisture balance of hair and scalp—and we ban over 2000 potentially irritating ingredients from our formula. If your baby’s hair length is still in the super-short pixie stage (which can last all the way until toddlerdom, depending on how fast their hair grows), you likely won’t need a moisturizing conditioner just quite yet (but stay tuned for more on kids conditioner in a minute!). 

As your baby grows and bathtime becomes a little more interactive, it can also become an essential part of the nighttime wind-down ritual. That’s why we created our two plant-derived aromas to make bathtime that much sweeter; our Vanilla + Ylang Ylang Baby Shampoo + Wash has that perfect, powdery-soft “baby” smell, and our dreamy, aromatherapeutic Rose + Geranium Baby Shampoo + Wash is designed to evoke a sense of calm before bedtime. And because our fragrances are 100% plant-derived, you know it’s safe for babies’ delicate skin and hair. 


When does baby hair texture change?

By age two, baby hair has been replaced by the type of hair that kids have through much of childhood. If hair has gotten thicker than those initial wisps, that’s toddler hair, more formally known as “terminal hair”—and it might be very different from what babies started with. Their hair might be getting wavier, longer and more dense—and you’re likely to see the first beginnings of knots. That’s your first clue that it’s time to switch to kids’ hair care.

Our Daily Nourishing Shampoo is tear-free and sulfate-free just like our Baby Shampoo + Wash, plus it has additional plant-derived ingredients like quinoa to help keep those thicker hair strands resilient and strong. And now’s the time to get into a conditioning routine from mid-shaft to ends; our Daily Nourishing Conditioner is silicone-free and packed with moisturizing squalane and smoothing panthenol (aka vitamin B5) so that hair gets the additional moisture and hydration it needs as kids get older. As an added bonus, our kids’ hair care line comes in an irresistible Orange + Vanilla aroma (still free of all synthetic fragrances!) that smells like the best sweet treat ever.


Is it normal for a baby's hair color to change?

Kids’ hair can shift colors…even more than once. By the time your child reaches toddlerhood, you’ve likely noticed a hair texture change—and possibly a color change too: Maybe your black-haired baby has slowly shifted to brunette—or your tow-headed baby has gone from blond to brown. It’s all completely normal! Color changes can continue into kindergarten; don’t be surprised if your baby’s hair color gets lighter, then darker again, before settling into the shade it’s going to be for most of childhood.


How do I care for my child’s hair?

While every child’s hair growth journey is different, hair care power struggles with your toddler (over everything from washing to combing) are common. Here, some tips on how best to care for your child’s hair.


Big kid hair is more tangle-prone.

This one you probably know intuitively; as your rough-and-tumble kid gets older (and they start voicing their hair opinions), chances are you’ll find yourself with the dreaded tangles at some point…and while an independent 5, 6, or 7-year-old might be able to start brushing or combing their hair themselves, it doesn’t necessarily mean they can manage hair care entirely solo. And wow, do they not like detangling.

Our silicone-free Leave-In Detangler is the perfect quick fix for kids on the move, with more of those essential moisturizing and snarl-loosening ingredients to help keep hair knot-free; after shampooing and conditioning, spritz Leave-In Detangler onto wet hair from mid-shaft to ends, then gently comb through—no rinsing necessary. (A word to the wise: always comb tangles out by starting at the bottom and slowly working your way up.) Your best route for avoiding hair battles is regular hair combing sessions to work the knots out; make it part of your post-bath routine so that the tangles don’t have the chance to establish themselves.

Straight hair is more tangle-prone than curly hair, and fine hair is more tangle-prone than thicker hair.

A scientific study showed that straight hair is more likely to tangle than curly hair. (Scientists say it has to do with the angle at which the strands cross each other). And the more fine your hair is (whether curly or straight), the greater the chances for knots. Straight hair—and particularly fine, straight hair—often needs more frequent combing sessions to keep snarls to a minimum. Happily, our Leave-In Detangler is clinically tested to work for all hair types and textures, from coily to super-straight. 

Curly hair loves moisture.

The general rule is that the curlier hair is, the thirstier it can be. We formulated our moisturizing Leave-In Detangler so it would sink effortlessly into hair with no tacky residue—so don’t be afraid to spray generously! Not only is it a detangler, it also works as a leave-in conditioner—and the more moisture, the better the chances that your kid’s beautiful curls and coils stay soft, healthy-looking, and tangle-free.

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