Toddler Hates Hair Washing? Tips and Tricks for a Tear-free Fix


From the sounds that used to emanate from my house at bath time, you’d think I bathed my daughter in acid. Seriously, I didn’t know if she was the wicked witch incarnate or what, but the kid hated having her hair washed, her head wet, water in the general vicinity of her upper body period, solely because it got on her face. I suppose that wouldn’t be a problem if we lived in a post-apocalyptic world where water was scarce and everyone is the “stinky kid,” but as that’s not the case, something had to be done, and from the past tense in my first sentence, I bet you gathered something was. We brainstormed tips for kids who don’t like water in their faces, and you can try them too.

Choose your tool:

Many kids dislike the sensation of being dipped back into the water for hair washing. You can experiment with using either a pitcher with water or a long-hose sprayer shower head like this one.

If you’re already using one or the other, sometimes switching can be an easy solution. Some kids find the sprayers scary, others think they’re cool. Like most parenting choices, it really depends on the kid.

You can also try using just an overly wet wash cloth to wet hair, but it doesn’t help much with rinsing. This does seem a good time to throw in that kid’s hair doesn’t actually need washed as much as an adult or as much as a kid-body needs washed even. I found the no-poo approach works great, and I could get away with just getting my daughters hair wet (unless she had something like spaghetti in it) most baths. I wash my kid’s hair with soap about once a month (I have 3 boys and the wee lass).

Gear up:

Next, methods of keeping the water off your kiddos face are often the most effective step you can take as sadly a lot of kids aren’t cooperative enough to just “look up” so the water runs down their back. A few ideas include:

-a washcloth your child can hold over their face as a “force field.”
swim googles (you can even get some complete with snorkel).
-one of these ridiculous but likewise useful shower visors
-one of these less ridiculous looking splash guards
shower visor bath cry

Make baths fun:

Anything you can do to make bath time more fun often helps sell the hair washing part. Bubbles and toys make a good beginning, but you can take it a step further with things such as:

-A special song you sing when washing hair, it doesn’t have to be complicated, Daniel Tiger does it all the time.
-Cool hair washing sound effects “wooooooosh goes the water,” “bubbley, bubbley goes the soap,” etc.
Puppet friends that come help wash hair.
-A shatter-proof bath mirror (preferably curiously positioned so your kid has to look up a bit) so they can watch what’s going on.
-If you co-bath, let them wash your hair first (plus you get to test that tear free soap, right?)
-Let them pick out their own character shampoo (choose a conditioner combo if you have tangles and skip that second rinse).

Prep before wash:

I’ve also been told that swim lessons can help tremendously as far as helping kids see water on your face can be fun. Things like water balloons, sprinklers, etc, run this same logic, and bonus, it’s like an outdoor bath.

Finally, books, songs, movies that involve hair washing or water fun can help. For example, if you can sell your daughter on being a mermaid and explain mermaids have to get their hair wet—win—plus great excuse to watch The Little Mermaid.

If all above fails, well momma (or papa) make it quick as possible and invest in ear plugs. This too will pass.

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