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ASK Mocha Mom: Am I making the puffs too tight?

Hi Natacha, my name is Harmony.

I tried to find the "Ask Mocha Mom" section of your blog but I could not find it. So, that's why I'm just commenting on this post.

I check your blog often and you are SUCH a help to me with my daughter's hair. My little Megan is 21 months old right now and I need some help. When she is this young she has enough hair on the back of her head that it looks bad if I put puffs on the rest of her head, but not the back. But, I struggle because if I put in the puffs on the back, then I know she will not be comfortable when she sleeps. Also I get worried that the puffs are too tight. I have read about the bumps on the head being an indicator that they are pulled too tight, but when I look at her head it's not that there are bumps, but the skin actually looks tight. Obviously she cannot communicate if it hurts, and I guess I just want to be on the safe side. I have seen lots of mothers pull the hair very tight and they claim that it is perfectly fine as long as there are no bumps. What do you think?

My other question is: do you worry about putting puffs on the back of your daughters' heads in the fear that they will be uncomfortable when they sleep? Do you just wait until they don't take naps any more to do this? Or should I not worry about it if she uses a pillow?

I hope this made sense. Thank you for all the time you spend to educate the rest of us. You are such a blessing and I have to say that your family is absolutely gorgeous!!!

Thanks for your question Harmony! You can ask questions at any time and I will try to answer them where ever you post them. However, if I think your question needs an entire post, I will answer it under the title, Ask Mocha Mom, so everyone can benefit, as I have done here.

I was the queen of doing the puffs too tight with my first daughter. I also added a million huge barrettes to the ends of her hair and never gave a second thought to whether or not she could sleep comfortably.

I've learned to be very careful about pulling the hair too tight when I fashion any style. If my daughters complain about their hair being too tight I will take it down and do it over. I'd hate to have to take an entire style down so I ask them periodically the entire time I'm styling if anything feels too tight. I force myself to do this because those little bumps that come up from too tight styles are very unsightly. They can become extremely itchy and cause my daughters to scratch them until they break the skin. These bumps can also become infected. Continually pulling the hair tight can cause Traction Alopecia, where the hair follicles are so damaged your child may experience hair loss. This hair loss can be permanent. Finally tight styles may cause headaches and scalp soreness.

In my opinion, no smooth style is worth all of that suffering.

Here's what I do when I use small rubber bands to make MB's puffs:

1. Try not to wind the rubber band around more than 3 times. In my experience 3 times is optimal for a section of hair like this:
Wrapping the rubber bands around the hair with a firm but flexible hold allows the strands to loosen up if you have accidentally gathered the hair too tightly. I recommend giving up that perfectly slicked, glossy, every strand in place look we all like our girls' pony tails to have. I love it too, but it's not worth it. There should be some slack.

2. Don't leave the style in too long! Only you can judge how long is too long for your child. I do MB's hair over once a week when she wears the above style. The rubber bands break down over time and become enmeshed with shed strands. Ask me how I know?

3. Cut the rubber bands out with a seam ripper when the style needs to be taken down.


I've worn a puff in the back of my head as a loose haired natural and gone to sleep on it. My puff was huge. It felt like resting my head on a pillow. Something like the image below but at my nape and bigger:
I wouldn't worry about the puff feeling uncomfortable for your baby to sleep on, as long as the rubber band holding it in place is NOT too tight. If you are using pony tail holders with decorative plastic bows, bears, flowers etc. on the ends--I'd be more concerned with those things digging into her scalp. If it's just fluffy hair--it doesn't hurt at all.

If you are still not comfortable with doing the puffs, you can try what I do with MB's hair. I don't do puffs in the back of her head--not because it's uncomfortable--but because they flatten out when ever she rests her head anywhere. I find that I am constantly having to fluff them into place. Even if I didn't think this could be too much manipulation--and I DO think it is too much---neither MB nor I have the time or inclination for the constant fussing. I either braid them into pigtails as you see above or cornrow the same 3 large sections.

I hope that helps! Be blessed.


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