04/20/2017 04:52 EDT | Updated 04/20/2017 04:56 EDT

How To Make Wash Day Go As Smoothly As Possible For Kids With Natural Hair

For any parent who has a child with a full head of natural hair, wash day can seem like doomsday. Not because you detest taking care of your kid's curls, but because their sensitive scalps don't always take well to scrubbing and pulling.

Regardless, it's important to keep their hair clean, moisturized and healthy so they can embrace it in all its natural glory. And you both don't have to go through agony to get there — believe us.

Below, we've gathered five tips to help make wash day easier for everyone, so your kid can get back to, well, being a kid.

1. Pre-poo

Pre-pooing is simply applying oils or creams to the hair before you begin the cleansing process. This helps avoid tangles and also ensures the hair won't get dry. Depending on the hair texture, you could use something light like olive or coconut oils, or heavier sealants like castor oil for extremely dry strands.

Make sure to part the hair into four sections beforehand to make sure the whole head is evenly saturated. Afterwards, lightly detangle using your fingers and then set into four Bantu knots to make washing easier, less painful and more efficient. You can begin the pre-poo process anywhere from one hour to the night before it's time to wash.

2. Co-Wash

Co-washing, which is using a conditioner-based cleanser, is an excellent way to clean the hair and scalp without stripping your kid's locks of natural oils. You can buy an actual co-wash, like Carol’s Daughter Hair Milk Co-Wash, or swap that for any brand of diluted conditioner. For this step, carefully take out one Bantu knot section and wash it with water.

Afterwards, apply the co-wash from root to tip and again use your fingers as a comb, starting from the bottom and working your way up to the top, to distribute the cleanser throughout the hair. Repeat this step for each section. Once completed, either put the hair back into a Bantu knot or a two-strand twist. Be sure to rinse out all the product to avoid any residue and build up. Also, avoid getting anything in your child's eyes by having them tilt their heads back as you wash the front sections.

3. Condition And Detangle

Here comes the trickiest and most painful (literally) part of any wash day — detangling. Given the previous steps, it shouldn't be too difficult, but everyone's case is different.

The trick here is to use a conditioner that gives you a lot of slip (like Kinky-Curly's Knot Today), meaning it will help guide your comb easily through the hair. If you prefer thicker conditioners, try diluting them with some warm water before beginning. Keep the hair in sections and be sure to use a wide tooth comb to avoid any breakage. Another trick is to start detangling from the bottom of the hair, and slowly work your way up to the roots.

4. Extra Step: Deep Condition

Deep conditioning can be tricky for kids who aren't fans of bath time to begin with, but it can be done. To get the process going, take out one section of the Bantu knots or twists and apply the deep conditioner from root to tip, then put the hair back into the style. Do this for each section until complete.

Afterwards, put a shower cap on your child's head for anywhere from five to 10 minutes (if they'll let you) and use this time to either wash the rest of their bodies, or just let them splash around in the tub. Once time's up, take out each section and rinse thoroughly, again using your fingers as a comb to avoid tangles.

5. Styling And Drying

The worst is finally over! Now comes the real kicker: figuring out what to do with this head of hair. Thankfully, it doesn't have to be so bad. Going for a twist or braid out is always a good option that can be modified into an array of styles once it's dry. To accomplish this look, simply two-strand twist or braid your child's hair while wet, being sure to apply some leave-in conditioners, creams and oils as you go to make sure their hair is well moisturized and has brilliant shine.

The LCO method (liquid, which in this case would be water; cream, oil) works wonders! After, let the hair air dry and take out the style in the morning to reveal gorgeous, well defined curls. From here, you can put their locks into pigtails, a puff, or just let them rock a big, beautiful 'fro.

What are some of your best wash day tips for kids? Let us know in the comments below.

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