'Patience and TLC': Secrets to taking care of your child's natural hair

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"Make haircare dates happy experiences". (Eye for Ebony/Unsplash)
"Make haircare dates happy experiences". (Eye for Ebony/Unsplash)

When she was just eight years old, Sonto Pooe remembers going through her first nightmare experience with a hairdresser who had braided her hair so tightly that it left her "unable to sleep for days".

The founder of local hair care brand, NativeChild, Pooe, says this and many other similar experiences led her to create her line of products for natural hair.

"This bad hair experience, coupled with frustration that the haircare market was flooded with chemical products, ignited my entrepreneurial spark," she says. 

Also read: 'Teaching our kids to love themselves': Natural hair blogger and mom shares confidence-building tips 

Giving natural haircare a chance  

Growing up, Pooe admits she didn't always have the best relationship with her hair but always loved haircare.

"I was the only great-grandchild and person who was allowed to touch my great grandmother's hair. I used to plait her in big 3 strand twists 'amagoda', and she would give me cake to go home with in return," she recalls.

It would be this love of haircare that got Sonto interested in giving her natural hair a chance which she says turned into a journey to embracing herself "wholeheartedly". 

"I went through seasons of manipulating [my hair] with chemicals or braiding… it wasn't until I experimented by going fully natural that it began to show significant length". 

Also see: Top hair care tips for anti-washing warriors 

'Make haircare dates happy experiences' 

"It is who they are," Pooe says of why she believes it's essential for parents to teach their children to love their hair regardless of texture, kinks and coils.

"You can't run away from who you are. After the braids and weaves come off and the relaxer wears off, you're left with you. No one can love you more than you". 

For hair to really flourish, Pooe says haircare knowledge is important, and so is "patience and TLC". Sonto recommends that parents "make haircare dates happy experiences" to avoid frustrating moments. 

Here are some other tips Sonto provided for taking care of your child's natural hair: 

  • If hair is long, schedule wash days over the weekend when you have time. 
  • Put toys in the bath, so they associate hair with fun. 
  • Always make sure hair is damp before touching (less painful).
  • If hair is long or very curly, you must detangle while the conditioner is on the hair.
  • The conditioner should stay on the head for no less than 15 minutes if you're in a hurry; otherwise, 30 minutes is good. Cover with a shower cap before rinsing. 
  • All styles where one plaits with your own hair and where 'ends' are tucked away will protect hair, i.e., benny & betty, flat twist, wool styles, freehand cornrows, etc.
  • Let them watch their favourite show while you are plaiting their hair.
  • If you prefer taking your little one to a hair salon, choose stylists that are good & patient with kids. 

Most importantly, "teach them by example," Sonto says.

"Love your own hair and let them play with it if they want to," 

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