I sometimes think I should really be offended when people act surprised that I can look after my baby’s hair. I think the extreme exhaustion and the fact that I don’t really care about options really helps. It really is a reminder that human beings are so ignorant sometimes. When I was pregnant I knew my baby would have different hair to me. I was so excited because I have admired African hair since I was little. I still remember the first time I met a black girl called Clara in year one that had these lovely long braids with colourful beads in it. I lived in a predominately Bengali community so meeting her was very refreshing.I went home and begged my mum for the beads so I can go into school and do the hairstyle. She bought the wrong beads! She bought beads that can be sewn in like embellishments.
Oh mother! So I asked my friend if she wanted my beads in exchange for hers. She was so kind, without a second thought she started pulling out the colourful treasure out of her pocket and tried to plait my hair. We both were in for a shock when we discovered the beads wouldn’t stay in my hair like it did in hers. She untied one of her plaits and showed me how she does her hair and it was magical. The plaits were easily woven into each other like freshly made cotton candy. It was so soft and thick. Our six year old minds just didn’t understand why my hair couldn’t hold the style. I did understand that I totally loved her hair.
So fast forward to the present day. I began my research and asked other parents with mixed hair how they take care of their children’s curly crown. My baby was born with straight hair and it’s custom for Bengali’s to shave it off. We didn’t shave her hair which caused a mini fight with my parents but we stuck to our instincts. They believe the hair to be unclean as the child has been in the womb for 9 months and that it will not grow properly. Just to clarify this is not true. The womb is probably a more sterile environment than the outside world. Secondly hair grows from inside out, so I dismissed their traditions.
After a few weeks of bringing Alina home her hair gradually started to change from light waves to full coiled curls. It was breathtakingly beautiful. I stroke it everyday till now. I took a few tips from my fellow curly hair mammas but I also discovered that her hair felt like mine but it was curly. So I had to incorporate Bengali hair care routine. Bengali people use oils and massage their head a lot. So I massage my baby’s head in the pattern of her curls to simulate circulation and induce natural hair oils. I use a gentle earth friendly baby shampoo and wash her hair once a week. My own hair I wash twice a week but because she has curls that I don’t want to dry out I limit the washing. In damp hair I apply a pea size amount of Shea butter into her hair. I did originally try virgin olive like I do for myself but the moisture didn’t seem to seal properly. Her hair is transforming again so I’m excited to see the new texture and learn more ways to take care of it.