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. If you have a child that fights getting their hair washed, you are not alone. We asked our Kids Activities Blog community for practical time-tested advice and here are the solutions for a calm bath time…even when hair washing is involved.

text: My Child Cries When Getting His Hair Washed - child age 18 months crying while water poured over head - Kids Activities Blog
No more tears at bath time!

Hair Washing Drama with Young Kids

All of my kids have cried about bath-time at some point during their infancy or toddler years. But a tear-free hair washing would be a dream to those of us who have kids who get upset anytime washing toddlers’ hair is even MENTIONED!

Related: 21 Silly, Wacky & Easy Crazy Hair Day Ideas for School and A Mom’s Warning of Bunchems Stuck in Hair

We asked other parents what they have tried that helped their toddlers to get past this phase of hair washing crying and they had some great answers. Simple tips from DIY bath toys to singing might be all that you need, but if you need more…keep reading!

Solutions If Your Child Cries When Getting His/Her Hair Washed

  1. Try wetting his hair with a wet washcloth and not a cup of warm water which helps limit the water going into a child’s eyes.
  2. Try using a bathtub hat or bath visors that keeps the bath water and soap out of their eyes…less irritation, less terror!
  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.
  16. Try a fun hand held shower head attachment, on a low setting.
  17. Blow bubbles in the tub when you are going to wash his hair.
  18. Try swimming lessons, where your toddler will learn to blog bubbles and go under the water.
  19. “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
  20. Use a sponge to wet his hair and rinse it out instead of a water pour over the head.
  21. Use ear plugs when your child is in the bath tub.
  22. Let your child wear fun goggles to wear during bathtime.
  23. Be silly and make bubbles on your face (make a bubble beard and let your child rinse it off.)
  24. Try giving your child bath tub crayons to draw while you wash his hair.
  25. Try the kitchen sink instead of the bath tub. It may have been a few years since your toddler bathed in the sink, but laying on the counter with just head in the sink under the faucet spray mimics what your beauty salon does for you!
  26. Celebrate the end of the bath whenever hair washing is involved!

Products to Try to Help with Kids Hair Washing

little rinser eases hair washing irritation - child with lil rinser on hair

Try using a product like the one above called a shampoo visor which looks like a sun visor, but works great to keep the sensations of water away from sensitive eyes.

child hand reaching from bubbles - Kids Activities Blog
help me!

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 child to Wash Hair Independently

Check out our steps to proper hair washing and how easy it is to teach.

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.


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Do you have advice to share about how to make hair washing less stressful for kids?

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