My Child Cries When Getting His Hair Washed

Just this weekend, I was with my cousin who told me that her very young child cries when getting his hair washed.  I reminded her that this is common. All of my kids have cried about bath-time at some point during their infancy or toddler years.

We asked other parents what they have tried that helped their toddlers to get past this phase and they had some great answers. Simple tips from DIY bath toys to singing might be all that you need.


15 Solutions if Your Child Cries When Getting His Hair Washed

  1. Try wetting his hair with a wash cloth and not a cup of water.  
  2. Try using a bathtub hat that keeps the water out of their eyes.
  3. Let her watch movies where people wash their hair, like Mulan. Then play Mulan in the tub. ~ Lisa M. Laura.   (Or the episode of Curious George where they are in the car wash.)
  4. Keep a dry washcloth close by, to blot his eyes if any water gets into his eyes.
  5. If your child has long hair that has been pulled back, put it down before bath time.   (Sometimes it hurts when you initially put it down, so you don’t want this to happen  during  bath time.)
  6. Use a small towel to wash their hair (with shampoo and water on the towel.)
  7. Try letting your child see you washing your hair.  Let them dump water on your head.
  8. Add lots of toys to the bath, making it more fun.   Bring in some spoons and measuring cups, too.
  9. Talk your way through it.  “I am going to rinse your hair three times.   One. Two. Three.  Great job!  All done!”
  10. Try to teach him to tilt his head back.  It is hard for them to understand, but it will really help.
  11. Buy a specific fun cup (let your child pick it out at the store –  grab one with their favorite character on it.)  This is their cup that ONLY this one child gets to use for hair-washing.  No one else can use it.
  12. Try dry shampoo in and scale back on the hair-washing to once a week.
  13. Give him a special toy that he can ONLY use while he is having his hair washed.
  14. Have an older child demonstrate that it is fun and not scary. (even by washing his/her hair in the sink).
  15. Go really slowly, while washing his hair.

My Child Cries When Getting His Hair Washed

10 More Things to Try if Your Child Cries When Getting His Hair Washed

This post contains affiliate links. 

  1. Try a fun hand held shower head attachment, on a low setting.
  2. Blow bubbles in the tub when you are going to wash his hair.
  3. Try swimming lessons, where your toddler will learn to blog bubbles and go under the water.
  4. “I usually say look at the bathroom light, so her head stays back and it doesn’t get in her ears or eyes. And we sing a song… Google take me out of the bathtub.  She loves this song!” ~Jen Ross
  5. Use a sponge to wet his hair and rinse it out.
  6. Use ear plugs when your child is in the bath tub.
  7. Let your child wear fun goggles to wear in the bath tub.
  8. Be silly and make bubbles on your face (make a bubble beard and let your child rinse it off.)
  9. Try giving your child bath tub crayons to draw while you wash his hair.
  10. Try using a product like the one below.


Sensory Issues With Hair Washing

Do you have a child that is sensitive to hair washing due to sensory issues? You are not alone. Often times kids with Sensory Processing Disorder can feel a lot of anxiety in anticipation of the water hitting their heads along with it being painful to the touch.

Autism Parenting Magazine shares some wonderful ides to make bath time a splash; even with sensory issues. We also found this post over at The Sensory Seeker that gives some wonderful information to help you approach hair washing with your child. And there are also several wonderful tips compiled on this post over at Your Kids Table.

While there are many variations as to why your child with sensory issues may be afraid of washing their hair, the good news is that there are many resources like the ones above to help you pinpoint the triggers. Keep trying, you and your precious child will get there!

How Do I Teach My Child to Wash Their Hair?

While every child is different, below are some general guidelines to follow when beginning to teach your child to wash their hair. Be sure to practice patience through the process as every child learns and develops at a different pace. And always praise them for a job well done!

Step 1

Have them us a fun toy like this shampoo rinser to wet their hair.

How to Teach Your Child to Wash Their Hair

Step 2

Put a small amount of shampoo onto their hand (dime size is good to start and you can go up from there).

Step 3

Ask your child to begin rubbing the shampoo onto their hair and scalp. If they need help, you can gently guide them.

Step 4

Have them rinse their hair using a shampoo rinser and ask them to feel it each time. This will give them the ability to “feel” when there is soap in the hair, and when there is not (with your help, of course).

Step 5

Use a regular towel or a fun one with a hood and teach them to dry their hair.

Use a fun towel to teach your child how to dry their hair after washing.

Step 6

It’s time to brush! Depending on your child’s hair texture, this would be a great time to teach them to brush their hair, too. Even if they don’t do much, it will make them feel proud and encourage them to try again!

There you have it! Super simple and easy, but such a great hygiene skill to have. Before you know it your child will be washing their hair all by themselves.

Bath time struggles can be frustrating and you can feel helpless, but it will end. Keep trying and making you child feel safe.  Resist the urge to become frustrated or angry with your child. Try making bath time fun and enjoyable for your child.


In the meantime, come to our Facebook page to continue this conversation and many others.