Just for the Record, I Also Do Not Paint His Toenails



Dear Amalah, Queen of Everything,

I have a beauty question regarding baby hair. Your son and my son are only a few days apart in age so I figured that even though the Smackdown is usually geared towards those of us that are a little older than 1, you might have an answer to my question:

At what stage in a baby’s hair-development should one switch from just using baby wash on their hair to using kid’s shampoo and possibly conditioner? My son is still fairly bald on top, but he’s rocking the curls near the base of the back of his head and they’re becoming unruly. It’s not that he’s ready for a haircut yet, but some days those curls won’t curl and instead just fluff out into a big frizzy mess making him look more like Homie the Clown than my sweet baby boy.

I’ve tried using a dab of Frizz Ease Secret Weapon and that didn’t seem to do anything. I’ve tried using Paul Mitchell’s spray-in conditioner and it didn’t do much either. Using regular conditioner does seem to work pretty well, but it’s kinda hard to rinse out since he doesn’t like getting water in his eyes and hasn’t learned that he just needs to close them, dangit!

Have you ever used any of the kids’ shampoos and/or conditioners on Noah’s hair or do you have any other recommendations?


So Noah has a ton of hair, all of a sudden. Okay, if “all of a sudden” means “for months now.” He had his first haircut in February when he crossed into definite mullet territory, and about three weeks ago I decided it was time to graduate to a Real Big Kid’s Shampoo.

We’d used nothing but baby shampoos and washes on him before this — stuff from various variety gift baskets from my baby showers. Johnson & Johnson’s and the Gerber Grins & Giggles lines mostly, plus some Burt’s Bees. And honestly, this stuff barely even counts as Officially Opinion-Worthy. It smells nice, makes him smell nice and doesn’t sting his eyes. Plus! One bottle = all-over clean. Awesome. If only my life were so simple.

Noah gets eczema if we bathe him too often no matter what we use, and honestly I was completely okay with cutting back on baths instead of scouring the fahhhncy baby boutiques and organic shoppes for expensive shampoos and soaps. We use Burt’s Baby Bee Buttermilk Bath about once a week (Aveeno Milk Bath rocks too), but his hair got nothing but good ol’ J&J. Until we ran out of it, and I decided that his hair wasn’t nearly silky and manageable enough.

I bought him some of the L’Oreal Kids Soothing Lavender 2-in-1 Shampoo. Because…I don’t know. A little Johnson’s Bedtime Bath baby-smell nostalgia? It seemed like a good gateway shampoo? Plus conditioners! It would make Noah’s waves silky smooth without having to put two products on his head, which: NO. BAD. DO NOT WANT.

So. It was bad. Like, really bad. After two applications, Noah’s entire scalp started flaking and peeling. I’m sorry, but how the hell is he supposed to score the hot playdates with toddler dandruff?

So the L’Oreal has been banished to the back of the medicine cabinet and I bought some Burt’s Baby Bee shampoo and body wash. Massive regression back to infanthood, but his skin clearly isn’t ready for a big-kid’s shampoo.

Your son’s skin might not be as sensitive as Noah’s, and I freely admit I have zero expertise in this area, but I actually recoiled a little at the idea of using adult styling products on a baby’s head. It just doesn’t seem like a good idea. I mean, for me? BRING IT, TOXINS AND ADDITIVES. But for Noah, not so much. I don’t know though — is probably just my personal tic. How else does Gwen Stefani get Kingston’s hair into that rocking faux-hauk?

There are a lot of kid’s shampoos and conditioners that are designed for curly hair, and I’m guessing (hoping?) someone will comment with a recommendation. Noah’s waves do frizz occasionally, but usually a quick post-bath comb-through and some shaping with my fingers brings them back into shape.

I wouldn’t stress about your son’s hair too much, honestly. I think baby fros are cute.
Gratuitous baby bathtime photo. I should be ashamed of myself.

About the author

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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15 Responses to “Just for the Record, I Also Do Not Paint His Toenails”

  1. missbritt Apr 23 at 11:00 am Reply Reply

    Ugh! I was so hoping there would be comments here on taming the curls! My daughter is two and her little ringlets on the bottom don’t fro, they kinda just “eh” – as in limp and stringy and so not Cherub Style Curls.

  2. supa Apr 23 at 12:01 pm Reply Reply

    For the toddler dandruff: baby or olive oil and a teensy dollop of head’n’shoulders.
    for the frizzy curls — less-frequent hairwashings. Also, a tiny amount of baby lotion smoothed over them. I mean tiny.
    (Plus, if you twirl your son’s little curls as much per day as I seem to do, they just kind of — shine up. I dunno. )

  3. jeana Apr 23 at 12:03 pm Reply Reply

    My NINE-YEAR-OLD still uses baby wash. It’s just so darn convenient.
    Use Frizz Ease on the curls. Works great on my daughter’s curly hair.

  4. p & k's mommy Apr 23 at 12:14 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter is 3 1/2 and I am still using J&J’s all over soap on her. I know, I know. I should be ashamed of myself. But really, I’m just that lazy. Plus, she is currently going through a phase were water in her eyes produces ear-scattering screams that no one should be subjected to, especially in the small echo-chamber that is her bathroom. It’s just not worth risking a shampoo that might sting her eyes.
    What I did do is buy some spray on, leave in kids conditioner: “For Kids Only” detangler and conditioner. My daughter has thinnish, wavey hair, so it’s a good compromise. I put it on after she gets out of the bath and whenever I need her hair to be a bit less unruly. I bought it at the kids’ hair cutting place. For now, it works. Eventually I’ll have to switch her to something else. I’d love to hear other people’s suggestions.

  5. mtngray Apr 23 at 12:28 pm Reply Reply

    I like the Johnson’s Buddies Instant-foam Easy-rinse Shampoo. It foams without running into my kids’ hair, and then it rinses out super fast.
    My own little Noah who is 18 months today has really fine, straight hair that tends to just stick up everywhere. I usually just go with it, but when we go out in public, I spritz on a little Johnson & Johnson Kids No More Bedhead Detangling Spray and comb. Both products work well on my 3 year-old as well.
    Both my sons had eczema as babies, and neither one has had any problems with any of the Johnson’s products.

  6. Jezer Apr 23 at 12:54 pm Reply Reply

    Y’all, the Mr. used PANTENE (Pantene!) on the boy’s hair last night! He said the baby stuff just wasn’t making the kid’s hair silky and shiny enough. What the? He just better not get it in his eyes. And really, I think the smell is a little too strong for my widdle baby boy.
    Also? I saw on “Tease” the other day that Coby recommends using–get this–canned whipped cream (I am NOT lying!) to achieve the faux hawk.

  7. cindy Apr 23 at 3:01 pm Reply Reply

    My 19-month-old daughter has an honest-to-god ‘fro. Super-thick, super-curly hair. We use J&J Extra Conditioning Shampoo during her bath and then Just For Me Leave-in Conditioner afterward. Just For Me is a kid’s line, and it seems to be pretty gentle. We only wash her hair twice a week. When I comb her hair, I use Just For Me hair lotion and J&J detangler before I even try getting the comb through her hair. I also bought the widest-tooth combs I could find. Thank god she is pretty patient when it comes to getting her hair combed, because it takes a while, and now she’s learned how to rock the barrettes and pigtails!

  8. brid Apr 23 at 3:35 pm Reply Reply

    Well, it’s not a curly baby hair hint, but it is baby bath time appropriate…
    For anyone needing an irritant-free, non-fragrant bubble bath I’d highly recommend the Super Sensitive California Baby line. I’m 24 and it’s the best product I’ve found to keep my skin happy and still get bubbles in my bath! (And they come with a bubble wand which just cracks me up).
    They make shampoos, detanglers, and lotions as well–but I haven’t tried them. Their products are all in the $10-15 range and I just learned they’re available at Target.

  9. anneski Apr 23 at 3:41 pm Reply Reply

    Not to be a total alarmist, but the comment about the lavender shampoo reminded me of a NYT article I read a few months back about how lavender and tea tree oil are estrogen analogs and can lead to very strange changes in the bodies of boy toddlers. Sounds like good old no-tears J&J is the winner!
    Again, apologies for the downer, but I figured it’s better to have the information out there! Good luck with the unruly baby curls!
    here’s the link to the article…

  10. Mom101 Apr 23 at 6:34 pm Reply Reply

    At Cool Mom Picks we’re always writing up great bath/beauty products for babies. Although it sounds stupid to call them beauty products, so we’ll stick with bath.
    I like the idea of organic stuff free of chemically scary things, parabens and other additives I don’t understand but would rather avoid if I can. Check out lines from zenmomma and bug&pickle among others.

  11. Beth Ramsey Apr 23 at 8:39 pm Reply Reply

    We’ve used Kiehl’s baby stuff since Will was born. It smells yummy, tear-free, and it satisfies the inner-snob – it is expensive but so worth it!

  12. jomama Apr 24 at 8:54 am Reply Reply

    My son is 18 months and I have been using the same bottle of J&J shampoo since his very first bath. He got his head shaved completely bald back in October, but before that he had the biggest curly fro ever. I would just wash it with J&J two or three times a week and put a tiny bit of Carol’s Daughter’s Hair Milk in it. It’s a bit greasy at first, but it made his hair shiny and soft. I also used the J&J detangler to freshen up the tangled mass when he wakes up in the morning.

  13. epoh Apr 24 at 10:45 am Reply Reply

    About once a week I use my conditioner (SunSilk) on my daughter’s hair. Nearly every morning she gets a spritz or 5 of J&J detangler. That seems to keep her curls from getting to frizzy. I thought about buying her some sperate shampoo & conditioner, but the once a week dollop of mine seems to working out okay.

  14. CursingMama Apr 24 at 1:22 pm Reply Reply

    I can’t believe I’m the only one to mention that (A) Noah makes my ovaries hurt and I’m way past the idea of more children and (B)Stick with the baby stuff for as long as possible they’ll be grown before you know it and get offended if you try to smell their hair.

  15. foodmomiac Apr 24 at 2:01 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter uses She has crazy curly hair that gets really dreadlocky without product. We also use Aveda Be Curly on her. For conditioner, the baby conditioners just didn’t cut it once her hair got a bit longer, so we use an organic raspberry leaf conditioner from Whole Foods. My son’s hair is also coarse and curly-ish, but not long enough to pose much of a problem. Sometimes I put in conditioner to make it softer, but usually he just looks kind of ratty.

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