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How to Remove Tangles & Knots from Your Child's Long Hair in 3 Easy Steps (& Hairstyles to Prevent Knots)

Updated on July 9, 2013

The Problem & the Solution

Hair knots and tangles are a big problem for many kids, especially girls who have long hair. Removing the knots is frustrating for the parent, and uncomfortable for the child. The solution to this problem is easy, once you know the few facts outlined here. These tips really work! I am sharing what I learned after many years of dealing with my own girls' long hair. I wish I had known how to do this much earlier! The easy steps in a nutshell are:

  1. Buy Detangling Spray
  2. Leave Detangling Spray on for at Least 5 Minutes
  3. Use a Wide Tooth Comb or a Detangling Brush
  4. Start Combing Out the Hair from the Bottom First
  5. Keep Your Child Distracted While You Comb Out Their Hair
  6. Braid Your Child's Hair Every Night
  7. Clip, Braid or Roll Your Child's Hair Everyday, or Have Them Wear a Ponytail

For more information on these steps, please read below:


1) Buy Detangling Spray

This is the most important tool for detangling hair. The inexpensive ones work just as well as the expensive ones. Even so, some still work better than others. Try different ones, until you find the best one for your child's hair. Your local CVS, Rite-Aid or Walgreens will usually have only 1-2 brands, but they are hard to find on the shelves. Look on the lower shelves in the conditioner section, or else look brand by brand. Also check in the baby shampoo section. Amazon.com has a big selection of these. Kid's hair places sell these too, but they usually cost more. My favorite, low-cost detangling spray is L'Oreal Kids Tangle Tamer. When my girls were really young, I always thought that detanglers were unnecessary, extra products - not true! These are essential for combing out the knots in kid's hair!

Most Important Tip When Using the Detangling Spray:

Put on a lot of detangler and then let it sit on your child's hair for at least 5 minutes. Spray it on liberally on the knots, from the middle of the back of the hair first, and down onto the ends. Put on extra detangler wherever you see or feel knots. Put some extra onto the side strands. Then remember to leave on for at least 5 minutes before attempting to take out knots.

2) Wide Tooth Comb & Detangling Brush

Have your child sit in front of the t.v. or with a cell phone game (I let mine borrow my phone for games for this step). Using a big, wide tooth comb, comb your child's hair from the very bottom of the edges, going up an inch each time you get the knots out. Do not start at the top of the hair and comb downward. Use your fingers to separate the hair into sections, so that it is easier to comb out. Add more detangler to the really knotted areas.

The detangling brushes really do work, but some work better than others. The "Knot Genie" for kids is the best one. These brushes work faster than the wide toothed comb. I have to admit I was skeptical until the woman who cuts my kids' hair used this brush on my daughters. You can get this brush on Amazon.com or in kid's hair cutting places. The trick with either combs or brushes is to start at the very edges of the hair and work your way up as slowly as necessary.

Now that you have the hair untangled, keep it that way:

3) Have Your Child Wear Their Hair in a Braid Every Night

This really works to keep the hair knot free, because nighttime is when many kids develop knots in their hair. I only learned this trick a year ago, and I wish I'd known this much earlier. Either braid it yourself or have your child braid it, if she is capable. One long braid down the back is quick & sufficient. Or if it is more comfortable for our child, then two braids work well.

4) During the Day, Have Your Child Wear a Braid or Other Hairstyle to Prevent Knots

Depending on your child's age, you can braid their hair everyday (one long simple one is fast), or you can have them put their hair in a ponytail. Some older girls (8+) like to wear their hair long and flowing. Even these girls will often agree to a pretty hairstyle with small side braids or the front pieces rolled, and then secured with a clip. These are quick and simple styles that save you a lot of detangling in the future.

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