How, When and Why To Deep Condition Your Child’s Natural Hair

Around age 1 1/2 or 2, you may want to begin incorporating some deep conditioning treatments into your child’s natural hair care routine. To most “curlys”, deep conditioning will actually become one of the most important steps.

The why:

It’s a fact that the drier your little one’s hair is, the harder it will be for you to manage. Having well-conditioned, well-hydrated hair will mean more softness, shininess, and elasticity. The reason why your child’s hair seems chronically dry may simply be because his or her hair isn’t hydrated enough. A good deep condition may be in order, and it may need to become something you do on a consistent basis.

The how:

Deep conditioning usually consists of applying your favorite conditioning product and leaving it in for an extended period. The most ideal setup is to have your child put on a processing cap and sit underneath a hooded dryer for around 15 minutes. Using heat expands the hair shaft and allows the conditioner to penetrate a whole lot better. Heat isn’t necessary, but if a deep condition is what you’re looking for, using heat is ideal. After your child’s hair has processed, rinse the conditioner out with cool water. The cool water will help close the hair cuticle and keep the moisture in!

The when:

So when should you deep condition? Doing a treatment after washing your little one’s hair will ensure that the conditioner will better penetrate the hair shaft and will ultimately help your child’s hair take in all of the conditioner’s benefits. How often you deep condition is really all dependent upon your child’s hair type and hydration needs. Type 3’s don’t generally need to deep condition as much as type 4’s. I deep condition my type 4-c low porosity hair every week; and I condition my 3-year-old daughter’s 4-b normal porosity hair once a month. It really helps to have a general level of understanding of your child’s particular hair type to determine what would be right for him or her.

The what:

The next, and probably most important, question to figure out the answer to is what type and kind of conditioner to use. There’s no “one size fits all” approach to conditioners for children. If you don’t have the time, energy, or patience to make your own, (which is usually your best option) a general rule of thumb would be to find a conditioner that’s water-based (the first or second ingredient is water) and that has a lot of slip. Behentrimonium chloride may sound a little scary, but it’s actually a good ingredient to look for in a conditioner. It’s a plant based lubricant that has tons of slip and is equally as effective as silicones (which tend to leave build up on hair.) Shea Moisture has a Kid’s Mango and Carrot conditioner that’s great. Kinky Curly also has a wonderful conditioner that my little girl and I use regularly.

Are you deep conditioning your little one’s hair yet? If so, is there a particular conditioner that you love to use? Let me see it in the comments!

About Author /

Creative director, curator, wife, and most importantly, mother to two Afro Babies - Kesha has appeared on shows like CBS Better Mornings Atlanta and AMHQ with Sam Champion featured as a parenting and lifestyle expert. Find Kesha all over the web sharing her knowledge and opinions on parenting, marketing, family life and social issues.


  • Blanca Gallegos
    3 years ago Reply

    Please, please explain/describe how to determine a toddler’s hair type. A 3 from a 4b from a 4c? These are new terms to me. My granddaughter is 28 months and her hair is past ear length and beautifully curly and if her curl is extended, it’ll reach her shoulders!

  • Merlinda B.
    3 years ago Reply

    Hi there! My son is 14mo with a 3b, normal density, low porosity afro. He loves washing his hair but I’ve never conditioned his hair and now he can’t even use soap and shampoo like normal, he has to use cetaphil soap only. His hair at the back is now frizzy and gets tangled easily. I usually use Shea butter only on his damp hair to style and braid them for the week for daycare. Any recommendations? He has very sensitive skin, hence the cetaphil.

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