toddler hates washing their hair

7 Solutions For When Your Toddler Hates Washing Their Hair

You know your toddler needs to wash their hair for good hygiene, but they suddenly hate it so much and cry, it becomes difficult to get through bath time.

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You may be feeling stressed because you just entered the “toddler hates washing hair” phase and don’t know where to start.  Or you may feel frustrated because you’ve tried a few things and they didn’t work.  

You aren’t alone!

Regardless of how long your toddler has hated to wash their hair, the below tips should help them to enjoy getting a bath from start to finish!

If your toddler hates washing their hair we have 7 tips and tricks to combat their fears and help make bath time a fun activity they look forward to before bedtime

Related Toddler Articles:

How to Run Errands With Toddlers Without Going Crazy

5 Coping Strategies to Handle Your Toddler’s Favorite New Word – ‘No!’

12 Clever Ways to Get Your Toddler to Eat More Vegetables

This post may contain affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy click here.

toddler hates washing hair

Why does my toddler hate getting her hair washed?

There can be a few reasons why your toddler hates getting their hair washed.  

A typical reason is they had a bad experience where they got soap and water in their eyes.

Even though they are only 2 or 3 years old they do remember events and sometimes they have a hard time forgetting. 

If this is the case, it may be as simple as switching to a new tear-free shampoo.  You can let your toddler pick out the shampoo to get them excited about using it at bath time.  

Look for characters they like or smells they enjoy. 

For example:

For the Frozen lover, this shampoo from Suave Kids has Elsa on the bottle

For animal lovers, this tear-free detangling shampoo helps make washing and brushing afterwards a breeze.

Another reason may be sensory sensitivity.  

Toddlers are still learning and experiencing the world and may just not like having to tip their head back or don’t like the feeling of their hair getting wet.

Most toddlers grow out of this, but if you are concerned something more is happening consult your pediatrician. 

How Often Should You Wash A Toddler’s Hair?

You do not need to wash your toddler’s hair every night (unless it is really dirty from food, sand or the pool).  

Washing too often can actually damage hair.  If you can get away with a few days without washing that can help your toddler enjoy more baths.

If the ends need a little shampoo between full washes that works too!

What To Do When Your Toddler Hates Washing Hair

In order to move from toddler tantrums and fear to making it fun, a combination of the below tips can help.  Don’t give up after one night of trying, sometimes a few nights of the new method are necessary for it to stick. 

toddler hates washing hair

1. Make Sure They Know It’s Coming – Don’t Surprise Them

Trying to trick your toddler by distracting them and then dumping water on their head isn’t going to make them comfortable with washing their hair.  Ensure you make eye contact before you rinse and counting down with them can help. 

Assure them it will be quick and they can go back to playing in a moment.

2. Practice Leaning Back

Your 2 or 3 year old may not like the sensation of leaning back, as it’s not a common position during the rest of the day.  

You can practice leaning back during the day by telling them to look up into the sky and look at the clouds. Or looking up to find an airplane.  

Then when you get to the tub you can make leaning back less uncomfortable by placing large removable stickers on the ceiling.  

This is a common practice at swimming pools: they will have pictures up on the ceiling to help young swimmers work on their back floats.

Amazon has some large stickers/decals you can try like these Unicorn ones or Spiderman decals.

3. Cover Their Eyes

If your child is nervous about getting water or soap in their eyes you can use a few things to help cover them up.

The most readily available is a dry face cloth, simply fold it so it’s a few layers thick and place it just above their eyes.

You can also try a toddler hair washing visor.  It’s a waterproof visor that is designed to keep water out of your toddlers eyes and ears.  

Note: This visor will take some getting used to, most likely it will take a few tries to get them to keep it on.  Patience required. 

Finally,   goggles may be the solution you are looking for.    

If only your toddler’s eyes are the problem (rather than eyes and ears) googles are a great way to keep water out.    

They allow your toddler to still see what is going on and they can be used in the pool as well.    

Our favorite goggles are here on Amazon

As above, it may take some getting used to.   Let them wear them around the house before going into the tub with them.

4.  Let Them Wash Their Toys

Having a comfort toy in the bath that they can wash too can help calm them and make washing hair a little more fun.

Look for dolls or animals with hair or special water features that your toddler can shampoo too.

Some examples:

Mermaid Toy

Dog Toy

Or bring in their toy cars for a ‘car wash’.

5.  Use A Rinse Cup

Rinse cups are designed to sit on your child’s forehead keeping water from falling onto their face.  Show your toddler how it works without water first so they get comfortable with it.  

Skip Hop makes this toddler-friendly rinse cup.

6.   Get In The Tub With Them

Throw on a bathing suit (if you prefer) and get in the tub with them.  Let them wet your hair first, you can use the rinse cup mentioned above or any of the other suggestions (goggles, visor, washcloth).    

Letting them see that these items work and it’s not scary will help them get comfortable.  

7.   Have Them Lie Fully Down

You can call it mermaid time or star time to encourage your toddler to lay down.  

Fill the tub with only a few inches of clean water and have them lay down so their hair is getting wet.   Use your hands and a small cup to rinse out anything above the surface.    

After Bath – Hair Drying & Combing

Your toddler may not hate the actual washing, despite their severe resistance.   Instead, they may be reacting to the upcoming hair dry and comb.    

Try drying gentler the next time you have the towel on their head and sing a song to distract them.    

Before combing, spray in some detangler meant for kids.   Then use a gentle brush.    

Our favorite detangler is from Honest Company (it works, smells great, and uses kid-friendly ingredients).

Conclusion:   Toddler Hates Washing Hair 7 Tips & Tricks

Many 2 and 3 year olds go through a phase of hating having their hair washed, dried and brushed.  

Most have longer hair now and don’t like the sensations of having water poured over their head.  

With patience and some new tips and tricks bath time should become an enjoyable time for all.

Related Toddler Articles:

How to Run Errands With Toddlers Without Going Crazy

5 Coping Strategies to Handle Your Toddler’s Favorite New Word ‘” ‘No!’

12 Clever Ways to Get Your Toddler to Eat More Vegetables