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.

Image via
Image via

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!


19 thoughts on “How, When, and Why to Deep Condition Your Child’s Natural Hair

  1. Elena says:

    Hi Kesha,

    here’s my story, hopefully you will be able to help me a little bit: I live in a small country called Croatia,it’s in Europe,right next to Italy.. there are not too many black people living here so it’s hard to find product for my baby girl’s hair.. she is 1/4 husband’s mom is originally from Guinea and he is mixed…my mom also has very curly (caucasian) hair but my baby has inherited more of my husband’s type of curls..Our girl is now 15 months old and I’m having a lot of trouble dealing with her hair…after I’ve read all of these articles, I’m now aware I haven’t been doing the right things…it used to be easier when she was smaller but now we’re in trouble..her hair tangles very fast,she has more hair on top of her head and it’s a little bit less dry then the rest of it….she’s a very vivid child and won’t let me work with her hair..It’s a real struggle every day..I really wouldn’t know how to make her wear a cap during moisturizing. for 30minutes .. I am going to try all of the things that are described in the articles..but what also worries me is those protective styles like brades…I do them pretty often but I’ve heard that they are not very good for hair in general because they cause the hair to fall out…so I’m not sure what to do..
    ..I’m really sorry about such a long post..I’ve just found this website today and I’ve been writing fast while my baby’s asleep..english is not my first language so I’m also sorry for all the grammar and/or spelling mistakes I probably made along the way..

    • Kesha of We Got Kidz says:

      Hi Elena,

      My apologies for the delayed response.
      I’ll address the braid concern first: The only way braids can make hair fall out is if they’re installed too tightly, otherwise, protective styles (braids, twists, cornrows) are going to be the best thing for her hair. They help the hair to retain moisture. They also help with stopping any breakage. The less you have to manipulate her hair in a week the better.

      As far as having her sit for a while to deep condition, distraction is key while she’s still young. Whatever captivates, her – be it a tablet, phone, or her favorite movie – deep conditioning is the best time to break that out. Deep conditioning will help with the tangles.

      Everything you’d ever need product wise can be ordered from Amazon. Not sure if they ship there, but if they do, it would be a worthy investment. Shea Moisture is a great line for naturally curly kids along with Mixed Chicks.

      Good luck! 🙂

      • Elena says:

        Hi Kesha,
        thanks for answering..I will try to get products from Amazon as you said…in the meantime, I cut her hair for the summer to let it grow easier because she had some spots that didn’t grow as well as the rest of her hair so I wanted to even all out..Now I can’t braid her hair anymore but until I manage to get that Shea moisture I am moisturizing her hair by spraying water and almond oil mix and then again with almond oil seems to work ok, but it’s quite difficult to apply because almond oil is very liquid and it also stays on my fingers a lot instead of going all into my baby’s hair.. that’s why I’m hoping to find something more manageable..
        Thanks again…

  2. stacey says:

    I purchased a huetiful steamer for myself and today I used it on my 5 year old lil girl… she needs a lot of moisture.. I noticed her hair shrinks alot.. The products I use are Shea moisture. I basically have all their deep conditioners. Is there anything I can use to help with shrinkage?

  3. Liz says:

    I have a 3 year old lil girl, her hair grow really slow and breaks easily. I have cut her hair three times hoping it will grow back better but her front and back hair just breaks too easily. I don’t wash it as often as I should because she hates it, I’m stuck I don’t know how to care for it and stop the constant breakage.

    • Kesha of We Got Kidz says:

      Hi Liz,

      This really sounds like it could be a simple issue of how you handle the hair. Do you keep her hair in protective styles (braids, twists, cornrows) regularly? When you take down her protective styles do you dampen the hair and use an oil or a leave-in on each braid or twist as you remove it? Do you only detangle her hair when it’s damp and slick with conditioner? Do you only use a wide tooth comb and your fingers to detangle? If you answered “no” to any of those questions, those could be part of your issues. Deep conditioning could also help given that if her hair isn’t properly hydrated, the hair can be dry and brittle and can break easily. Deep conditioning should be done at least bi-weekly after each shampoo. If you have enough room, have you tried lying her on the counter in your kitchen and washing her hair using the sprayer from your sink? That’s a suggestion that may help if the issue is her getting water/shampoo in her face.

      Hope one of those suggestions helps! 🙂

  4. Temi says:

    I finally found a child-specific hair blog! My daughter’s hair is quite dry and she cries alot each time I touch her hair. Her hair has grown though since birth (2.5 yrs old) but at some point I gave in and texturised her hair, big mistake! it no seem to repel moisture 🙁
    Reading your post made me realise that I have never deep-conditioned her hair mainly because it’s a struggle to even wash the hair. I also do not really know her hair type as you suggested so I’ll put it more research on that front. Thanks very much for your contribution 😀

    • Kesha of We Got Kidz says:

      Hi Temi,

      Thanks for reading!! So glad you’ve found some of the information useful. Spritzing your little one’s hair with water and applying a leave-in conditioner with a lot of “slip” will help to alleviate the discomfort. That should honestly be the only time you comb her hair (when it’s damp). That texturizer is tough. You’ll have to be very careful if you’re transitioning her hair back to natural. The line where her processed hair and natural hair meet will be VERY sensitive and can be easily broken. Start that deep conditioning routine ASAP to keep her hair at proper hydration levels. If you’re not doing this already, try washing her hair by lying her on the counter and washing it at the kitchen sink. That will stop any issues with water/shampoo getting in the face.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

  5. walusungu says:

    Hi, I use johnson conditioner in my baby’s hair and i i used to use cooking extra virgin olive oil but her hair seemed to be ok for a day or so and then go back to being dry. i have recently purchased vatika olive oil and coconut oil which i want to blend. will these product help. My babys hair also seems not to grow at the back but the rest grows ok. what can i do because the back seems to shed alot even though i try to ensure its plaited when she sleeps

  6. Marreona says:

    Hello Kesha, My daughter just turned 1yr Old and her hair was growing until someonw told me about a product called “baby dont be bald” her hair instantly stoppes growing and thinning out. I stopped using the product but now im trying to retain growth to my childs hair she has a soft texture almost around 4b and im trying to find a product to moisturize and pit length to my childs hair by her next birthday we our african american what could be the best product for her?

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  9. keisha says:

    Hi kesha thats my name too lol but ive been readinh ur blog nd have a 1 year old boy and i know theres not too many moms that grow their sons hair but i refuse to cut it he has coils like kinky curly hair and thin texture but his hair drinks alot of oil i havnt been deep conditioning but im goin to start im tryin to find a kid safe shampoo nd conditioner or i might make my own wat do i do?

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