Sunday, August 28, 2011

How can I keep my baby still for styling?

Sometimes you can't.

At least, that's what I've discovered with Mocha Baby. She communicates much better than her siblings did at her age. I'll credit that to the fact that she's constantly stimulated by four other siblings who find whatever she expresses to be fascinating. When it's time to do Mocha Baby's hair, she says, "No hair! All done!" Before scampering away.

I've only got so much time to chase her around and present a convincing argument that a new style is important in her busy little world. Sometimes I just give up and try again later or wait for another day. When it's not practical to wait, the following has worked for me:

1. I try to keep it simple. Diva sessions are coming soon enough but for now, Mocha Baby will be two years old in October, and her attention span is very short. I try to plan styles I know will only take me twenty minutes or less to complete. This includes detangling.

2. My goal of 20 minutes or less hair sessions sometimes means I may take out an old style and detangle in one session and wait for a later time to follow through with the new style. Washing is a completely different session. I fail every time I expect her to sit for too much at once.

3. I try not to wait until the last minute before we need to be somewhere to try to approach MB about getting her hair done. In those situations I have very little patience for any power struggle she may start. I already know grooming is not her favorite activity so I try not to set both of us up for failure. Multiple negative experiences probably make it more difficult to convince a baby that next time will be any better.

4. I use MB's desire to imitate everything her sisters do to convince her that she does want to sit still in her chair while I hurry up and throw together a style. This is a BIG one for us! I will style Mg3's hair first, while MB is in the room. When I call MB to the same seat for her turn she'll often fly to me while parroting, "My turn! My turn!"

5. If all else fails, I wait until MB is in a solid sleep pattern and lay her across my lap for styling. This option worked better for us when MB was much smaller. These days, laying her across my lap doesn't give me enough access to her head even if I'm trying to do simple parts. I hate to risk waking her up by moving her head around too much. Spritzing MB's hair with cool water has the same pitfalls. I've still found it to be better than nothing.

6. Finally, it's OK if I don't oooh and ahhh when I'm done with the style. I've had to pep talk myself through this one. I love to create a style and pat myself on the back for a good design and perfect parts. These days I'm often rushing so much nobody's parts are perfect anymore. I'm learning to find peace in imperfection. I make a mental list in my head....clean hair? Check! Shed hair out? Check! Simple neat style neither MB nor I will be crying about when it's time for take down? Check! Check! I'm good.

The above style is not my favorite.....but it works! If I really want to jazz it up, I add a cute headband OR a unique clip here and there to match MB's outfit and I keep it moving. The payoff is that her hair is flourishing. I remind myself that plenty of days are ahead when she'll be able to sit for as long as I need to get the style she will finally be vested in.

In the interim....this too will past.


  1. I hope one day I'm good enough at cornrowing that I could get my daughter's to look like that in only 20 minutes. I love how you make a point of putting your relationship with your kids above their hair! I am curious how long you leave MB's hair in a particular style and how often you style her hair.

  2. If nothing is going on special I'll leave her hair in a style like this for two weeks. It gets really fuzzy. I wash her hair and scalp right in a style like this.

  3. I have a 2 yo and I thought I was reading my words in your post! You described exactly how it is at our house, minus the older siblings. "No hair, all done!" is uttered daily. I used to wonder how in the world these other hair bloggers do it - styling their kids hair into these gorgeous bloggable styles. Until it hit me one day...they're not blogging about toddlers! I've learned to give myself a break. Hair isn't perfect here, but it's presentable. Good post. :)