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20 Tips (and Photos) for the Parents of Curly Headed Children

By caseymullins |

So you ended up with a curly headed kid. Congratulations! and I’m sorry. The battles you will face with daily combing and “WHY CAN’T I HAVE STRAIGHT HAIR” are just beginning. Or maybe you’ve been in the trenches for awhile.

I have been in the trenches for 6 years.

I am better at caring for Addie’s hair than I am caring for my own.

I have curly hair care down to a science, I’ve read every book, tried every product, used every stylist and made Addie my guinea pig with new styles and techniques.

I’d like to say she’s spent everyday of her life with perfectly coiffed hair but that would be a lie. Curly hair has a mind of its own. It is at the whim of the weather, the humidity, cleanliness and lunar phases. After the jump are 20 tips I’ve learned over the last 6 years that I want you to bestow upon you.

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Tips For Curly Headed Kids.

Curls From the Beginning.

Addie's curls showed up at about one year. I was scared to death they'd disappear after her first haircut (at two) but they came back even better than before.

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About caseymullins



Casey Mullins is a writer, photographer, and nice person living in Indianapolis with her two little girls, husband, and a one eyed cat. She writes regularly at her personal blog moosh in indy and can be found trolling local bakeries and napping whenever possible. Read bio and latest posts → Read Casey's latest posts →

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22 thoughts on “20 Tips (and Photos) for the Parents of Curly Headed Children

  1. Vanessa aka says:

    Two of my 3 daughters have curly hair. I do as well. I cannot live without *leave in conditioner* My favorite brand is called ‘Beautiful Curls’ and they sell it at Whole Foods. It’s an artisan product and smells divine! Lasts a long time and worth the $13.


  2. Sara says:

    Oh my goodness thank you so much. My daughter has curly hair just like Addie’s and i have tried EVERYTHING on it. My hair is also curly/wavy, but i always wear mine straight and when i was a kid it was just a mess. My daughter is now 5 and has shorter hair becuase the curls look so much better. Im going to look for the Curly Q’s stuff for sure and Ill send it to her dad’s house as well. I had no idea about not washing it so often. This article is heaven sent. Thank you so much.

  3. Proud mom says:

    Have to say, I don’t think my baby will have curly hair, but the photos on this article are so cute! The one you have for the opening picture is so beautiful, and perfect!!!

  4. Natasha says:

    Great tips! I have waves, our 7 year old daughter has drop dead gorgeous ringlets ( when I RARELY straighten it-it’s to her waist) The only shampooing every other is great advice- what I also learned this summer (after she was in the pool every day) on days we do shampoo & condition, I leave the conditioner in. Alllllll night. Comb it through her hair, quick French braid to reduce tangles, send her to bed, in the am, magic! Her hair soaks it all up!!! Excellent for dry winter & over chlorinated hair. I’ll have to check out Curl Qs, we use organix Moroccan oil shampoo/cond & their hair oil, alternated with John Frieda’s frizzease.

  5. Cassie says:

    My son has very curly hair and everybody always thinks he’s a girl! I don’t have it cut really short but have it in what looks like a cute little bob that looks great on him. I have to use a morning bed-hair tamer by Suave that smells like oranges to get the tangles out and leave it frizz free.

  6. Suzanne says:

    This post should be better titled, “20 Tips for the White Parents of Blond Curly Headed Children”. How obnoxious could you be? “Ethnic products”. Do you not realize there is an entirely different races of people who have the most amazing curls and embrace them as wonderful as opposed to seeing them as “being in the trenches”. And you “help her learn to love them” by straightening her hair? Who does that to a child? And why should she have to “learn to love them”? Who taught her otherwise…you?

    I am in shock. Is Babble only for light skinned parents? Because this post is insulting.

    1. caseymullins says:


      I’m sorry I have offended you so deeply.

      My daughter just happens to be blonde and I wasn’t about to use pictures of stranger’s children to add in a brunette or redhead.

      I do realize there are other ethnicities. However I am the parent to a blonde with curls and I’m not about to pretend to know what it is like to care for the hair of any other child but my own. I say in the trenches because when you have a curly headed child there are certain…things that come along with it. Strangers touching your child’s hair, asking your child strange questions about their hair….something that parents of curly headed children understand, regardless of race.

      Are you saying that you never do anything with your hair aside from leave it the exact way it comes out of your head?

      I only speak to what I know, what I know is blonde curly hair and my own red curly hair. I love my curls because when I do straighten my hair it gives it extra body, where’s the harm in that?

  7. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for the response and I must apologize because I completely failed to mention that your daughter, along with her curls, are absolutely gorgeous. I appreciate the explanation and your point of view makes perfect sense now.

    I am writing as a mother with blond waves to girls who each have full head of black curls. As a woman and mother, I am doing my best to help my children love what they were given, and not to display to them by my actions of straightening my own hair, or heaven for bid theirs, that their hair should be any other way.

    And by “ethnic” hair products, it just seemed to imply that your daughter’s curls are somehow different then the rest of the non blond headed children’s curls. It just seemed a very biased article for a universally beautiful gift.

    But I appreciate the article because no matter the color, texture, or tightness of the curl, each requires special attention.

    1. caseymullins says:

      @suzanne Thanks for understanding Suzanne. The only reason I referred to ethic products is because they are generally far more moisturizing than non ethnic products and it is far easier to find formulations meant for children with far less harsh chemicals.

      I have always liked to play with my hair, it’s not that I don’t appreciate what I have, I just enjoy trying different things. Addie does as well and I see no problem with her playing with or experimenting with her own hair (in fact I’m pretty sure she went to school today with several wildly placed pigtails.)

      I love her curls passionately. They just seem to *make* her personality.

  8. Leah says:


    Wow, offended much? You do realize the contributers here work from life experience and tend to use their own photographs. Hair is challenging no matter what it is, and it is great to have a little wisdom online on how to manage it so it doesn’t become a huge mess. Now, unless you are naturally drop dead gorgeous, or just content to wallow in whatever pajama pants and bedhead you woke up in all day, I’m going to assume that you have a beauty/hygiene routine that focuses on making the most of what you’ve got. Casey’s girl has GORGEOUS curls- work it Addie! She’s lucky to have a mom who cares enough to teach her how to care for all the parts of her beautiful body. And there is nothing racist about this post- she flat out gives props to the great hair products out there designed for women of color, and the many ideas she gains from them.

    Great post Casey!

  9. Amy from Resourceful Mommy says:

    Jealous. That’s all I’ve got. :)

  10. Jenny says:

    I am the mom of a wonderful curly-top boy. One more tip: thank strangers for the sweet compliments but don’t allow them touch the hair. Just…ewww, No.

  11. Suzanne says:

    Leah, yes, I agree that Casey’s girl has gorgeous curls, and I understand contributers from Babble work from life experience. I think my comment should have been more directed at Babble as opposed to Casey’s article. I at times just wish Babble had a deeper pool of contributers from more diverse backgrounds to share a broader range of life experiences. Because there are such amazing things to learn from parents all over the world.

    If you read my response, I did recognize that Casey’s point of view made perfect sense to me after reading her explanation.

    And as far as my beauty regimen is concerned? Of course I take care of myself and teach my girls to do the same. I am confident in my natural appearance, yes, and make the most of what I have, which doesn’t include straightening my hair. I just feel it is a bad example to set for my girls. And that is exactly what I am saying, I am trying to make them make the most with what they have by embracing their curls, not straightening them. But if they are into experimenting someday with straight hair, I will embrace their decisions. Just trying to lay a good foundation while they are young.

    I think the real issue which is the most important is to encourage our daughters to love themselves and do the same ourselves, because a Mom who feels beautiful will hopefully bestow that gift of confidence on her daughter.

    Thanks for the article Casey and hope to see similar ones since this seems to be such a popular topic.

  12. Rose J. says:

    I totally know how it feels to have curly kinky hair and luckily Sierra & lexie love it. Chelsea is the oddball and has straight hair…we still have to see how Noah’s hair grows out.

    I remember how I had to always comb Sierra’s hair every day & night before bed. Luckily she does all that on her own now. We all wash our hair three times a week. We sometimes rotate product, but our favorite is Biosilk. Curly hair is beautiful & we get compliments all the time. All of Sierra’s friends envy her because of her curly hair. Having curly hair is a blessing because we can wear it both ways…straight & curly, and they
    all are happy with their head of hair.

  13. Marie Reyes says:

    thank you! thank you! thank you! i needed these tips. mine has monster crazy bed head every morning.

  14. sarah l says:

    My 14 month old son has.crazy curly hair, especially in the back. The funniest thing about it is that the curls are tight, and they curl UPWARD, instead of down. His hair is pretty long too, when its wet and straight, its about an inch past his shoulders, which makes for some pretty crazy hair days. Random people are constantly touching it, which drives me crazy!

  15. Maria says:

    @marie reyes—-LOL!!! monster crazy bed head?!! my daughter can definitely relate! =D
    @casey mullins—thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!!! ur article is SO helpful.
    thank u to the other mommies too for their input as well. im a new mommy w/a very curly head little girl. this article and the other advice is just what i needed. <3

  16. Nrg says:

    This was great! I’ve had curly hair since puberty, and I had to learn most of these myself. I’ve had problems with product fatigue–products that I love just don’t work anymore. So, I’m excited to try the ones you recommend.

  17. Nayla says:

    wow. I have curly hair all of my life. I have to wash my hair eveyday, everyday, I can not go with out a day of washing it then brushing it, if I would it would be very frizzy. I can only use a comm if its wet. If I don’t wash it its in a bun or has something in it like gel or because I’v straightend it. thanks for the tips. I do remember my mom using the water bottle. people still do ask questions about my hair.

  18. Roberta says:

    Casey, thanks AGAIN for the great curly-hair tips! You originally saved me (straight hair) and my daughter’s strawberry blond curls in your guest Advice Smackdown column, and I loved seeing the info here on Babble. One thought on summer water play – I keep a bottle of spray leave-in conditioner/detangler in with the swim supplies (sunscreen, etc.), and douse my daughter’s head liberally when she gets out of the sprinkler or the pool shower or other water play. It was easier/faster than trying to do a full-on conditioning treatment. Plus, after your kid has been in the pool all day, who needs a bath, right? My favorite products have been Curly Q (thanks to you!) and the Circle of Friends line. And yes, my daughter now has more hair products than I do. Also, it is amazing how much people comment on her hair – I never expected that.

  19. Stephanie says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I have straight hair, but have a 2-year-old daughter with beautiful curly hair that I have no idea how to care for. This was so helpful! I’ve put a link up on my blog back to this post because it was just a life saver not having to keep asking complete strangers with curly hair how they maintain it!

  20. AmandaV says:

    I just found this and read it! I have curly hair and one of my daughters has curly hair, so for me, it’s just par for the course. For my poor husband though, he just doesn’t get why we don’t rub the towel on her head when she gets out of the tub (I’ve explained over and over that it makes it fuzzy..even the 7 year old tells him!) or why conditioner/product is so important! If you don’t have curly hair, it’s hard to understand! Heck, I have curly hair and it’s still hard to understand! The right cut and product and do wonders!!!

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