Before we start, it should be stated, that hair always grows. Unless there’s an underlying medical condition, at every point in time (if your child is 6 months or older) at least some portion of your Afro Baby’s scalp is in the growth or anagen phase.
Many parents get frustrated with their little one’s lack of length and assume that their hair just isn’t growing. In most instances, it’s not that the hair isn’t growing, but that the hair isn’t retaining length. There could be tons of reasons why this is happening so you’ll need to do some investigating to get to the route of the issue.
Here’s a list (not all-inclusive) of where you could be going wrong in your Afro Baby’s hair journey. Use them as stepping stones to develop a hair regimen that works for your little one.
1. He or she just may not be in a growth phase yet.
Now, here’s a little hair science for you: By week 22 of pregnancy, a baby will have all of his or her hair follicles and the anagen, (growth) phase begins.
After birth, there comes a point where your baby will enter into a telogen phase of hair growth and the majority of the strands will release to make way for a more permanent, more “luscious” mane of hair.
Some babies will get a new full head of hair by 6 months, others may not get one until about 2 years.
2. You’re over-handling the hair or just handling it too roughly (ie: over-manipulation)
It’s no secret that naturally textured hair can be fragile. If hair is over-handled over a period of time you can disrupt the hair cuticle and cause damage and breakage. If you’re brushing and/or combing your little one’s hair daily, this could be the primary reason why you may not be seeing any growth.
Detangling should only be done with fingers and/or a wide-tooth comb ONLY. Combs with small teeth should only be used for parting and boar bristle brushes should be saved for smoothing fly-aways.
Given the nature of natural hair, the goal of detangling should only be to remove large knots and tangles. Textured hair is not designed to be “combed through” from root to tip smoothly. If you make that you’re goal, you’ll most likely end with a comb full of unnecessarily broken hair that could have been left on your Afro Baby’s precious scalp.
In the same vein, hair barrettes and combs with broken teeth should be thrown away immediately as they can pull, tug and break strands.
4. Your little one may be suffering from hair-pulling, also known as trichotillomania
Many children are their own worst enemy when it comes to maintaining length. When stressed, or to simply just self-sooth, children may resort to pulling out their hair at the root. This disorder is called trichotillomania and it can be frustrating to witness.
The majority of children will grow out of this behavior; but for some parents a pediatrician may need to get involved and psychotherapeutic techniques may need to be implemented.
To help combat the disorder, tying the hair up with a satin scarf or putting on a satin bonnet before bed may deter those children who pull hair to self-soothe.
5. You rarely place the hair into a protective
Remember, low to minimum manipulation is the key to maintaining length. Putting the hair in a protective style like braids, or twists is the most practical way to achieve low manipulation. With regular moisturizing a long-term protective style can lead to amazing growth.
With all of that being said, if your little one has a “teeny weeny afro” don’t feel pressure to pull and force the hair into a protective style. When the hair is short, leaving the hair “free” for a few days can be just as beneficial as a protective style. Just be sure to moisturize the hair a little more often and wrap it up each night. Which leads to…
6. You don’t have your child sleep with a satin scarf or bonnet or have them lay on a satin pillowcase/sheets
Since little ones sleep so much, the back and sides of their head are constantly exposed to friction. That friction can create dry patches, and can even lead to bald spots. It’s a common occurrence that most often clears itself up over time; but having them sleep on a satin sheet or pillowcase or with a satin bonnet can help move the process along.
7. Your little one isn’t getting in enough water or green veggies. (A biggie for Afro Babies over a year of age)
Healthy natural hair can only be achieved starting from the inside. As soon as your little one is old enough to ingest water and solid foods, having them take in the right amount of water and green veggies each day will lay the right foundation for healthy hair growth.