Comb That Baby’s Hair!: I Will as Soon as I Learn How

by Amber Wright

Growing up, somehow I believed that combing hair was something Black moms automatically knew how to do. My mother combed my hair daily until I was old enough to do it on my own. She didn’t really give me any instructions on how to care for my hair; I just took over the job when we both felt like I was capable enough to do it without leaving the house “looking crazy.”

I begged her for a relaxer when I was in junior high school because we lived in Texas at the time and walking to school in that Texas heat and humidity was literally, not a good look! By the time I got to school, my pony tail had turned into one big cotton ball sitting atop my head. In my young mind, a relaxer seemed like the only way to escape the laughs and jokes made at my expense by my peers. 

My hair stayed relaxed until my second year of college. I grew the relaxer out with the help of my hair stylist at the time, but wore it straight with a good old, press n’ curl. I decided to stop straightening my hair about four years ago and that decision to go fully natural came at the right time for me. I started looking into during my pregnancy and fully committed to it shortly after my daughter was born.

 It was exciting for me because by getting to know my own hair, I knew I wouldn’t be intimidated by the idea of caring for hers. The only problem was that I had no idea how I would actually approach daily maintenance, combing, and styling of her hair! I had no idea how to braid, twist, cornrow…none of that! 

I hit the internet in search of tips, instructions, and resources on how to comb my daughter’s hair properly. I remember telling a friend of mine what I was up to and she laughed at me and my research. A part of me felt slightly insecure after that because I didn’t know how to “do hair.”  I shrugged that off though, because while some of us have that natural ability, others of us don’t – which is totally okay. As with most things in my life, if there’s something I need to know but don’t, I figure it out. So to Google I went.

One of the most comprehensive sites I found at the time that had what I was looking for was Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care. The website is all about trans-racial adoption (white parents, Black child), hair care, and so much more. At first I thought, “What is this white lady going to teach me about Black hair?” But then I had to check myself because the more I searched her site, the more I realized how much we had in common.  She was a loving mother (just like me), who didn’t know how to braid, twist, or style her little girl’s hair, but wanted to learn. And if she could learn, so could I! I reached out to her and she was incredibly helpful. The styles she creates for her daughter are always so creative and beautiful; and everything is documented with step-by-step instructions!

That started me on the road to learning how to comb my baby girl’s tresses with confidence. When she was an infant I would sit her in my lap and just play in her hair and massage her scalp. When she had enough hair, I’d practice twists and braiding. Now that she’s three and a half, our hair time is our bonding time. We talk and sing songs or watch movies while I work. I’ve tried a variety of styles and my twist game is on point! Braiding is another story, though. That will take much more practice for me to master over the years. My parts need a little work, too, but I’m okay with that. I started from the bottom…so…yeah, baby steps!

Ultimately, I feel great about being able to teach my daughter how to take care of her hair in its natural state – no matter how she chooses to wear it when she gets older. She’ll have a foundation that I didn’t have on how to care for and manage her hair, and that makes me happy. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Amber L. Wright, M.A.  is an adjunct professor, writer, communication coach and creator of Her personal mission is to teach you how to hear and be heard in every area of your life - from the boardroom to the bedroom. Wright’s areas of interest and expertise are in communication, relationships, marriage and popular culture.

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