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When Did Your Baby’s Hair Texture Change?

Around 10 months. Below is our daughter’s hair journey in photos...

Would you agree that her hair changed around 10 months? Here’s a side-by-side comparison...

African American baby hair changes from 0, 3, 9 and 12 months

Now that you've seen her hair with your own eyes, I'm going to try my best to break down my understanding of baby hair growth stages found in a 1987 UK study.

baby hair growth stages vellus to terminal hair

Babies are born with vellus hair on their scalps. Vellus hair is allegedly fine and not as pigmented (dark). This type of hair continues to grow on the scalp until adulthood. It is the hair that some call "baby hair," because it is the softest hair we have from childhood.

Around 3-7 months, babies begin to grow intermediate hair which can be a little thicker and darker. This intermediate hair grows until around 2 years old.

Then terminal hair (the final hair type) is the type of hair your little one will have the majority of (on their scalp), for the rest of their lives. It's believed to be coarser and darker. These different types of hair may be the reason our little one's hair can look so different as they age. Below I describe what I visually noticed as our daughter grew.

1. Natural Sheen

Sheen is how the light reflects off the hair. Even though her texture changed, her hair still shines.

2. Tighter Coils

before and after texture difference in African American newborn and 2 year old

Above shows the difference between her newborn hair and her hair at 24 months. While it starts out with a slight bend/wave, by time she reached 24 months her hair was tightly coiled.

3. Softness

Her hair as a newborn was wavy soft. And her hair as a 2-year old is kinky soft. One feels smooth, while the other feels fluffy (kind of like a feather and a cotton ball). They are very different from one another, but both are very soft. The best way to maintain hair softness (in my opinion) is daily hydration. This means fully saturating the hair with water. I use no products in our daughter's hair, and it is very soft. It is important to note that I do not manipulate her hair. Meaning, after her first birthday, she did not like me combing or brushing her hair. As you can see in her hair journey pictures, there were a handful of times she allowed me to comb coil her hair and only one-time she let me braid it. This means I just left her hair out. If you are combing or brushing the hair, the water-only method may not work, and you may need a little conditioner. Another important thing about using the water-only method is that her hair mats very quickly. To address this I simply cut the matted sections out. Since mats form at the ends of her hair, I was essentially giving her a hair cut every few months. These regular hair cuts didn't start until well after her second birthday.

4. Porosity

Porosity is the ability for the hair to absorb and retain moisture. If you look at the picture below the water is just sitting on our daughter's hair.

low porosity hair on African American baby

Now that our daughter has way more hair (and it's longer), we have to run the water over her head for a few seconds to fully saturate it. I find this fascinating because it shows how strong the hair is. Meaning, it takes some time before her hair allows anything to penetrate it.

5. Hair Density

Hair density refers to the number of strands per inch. There can be different densities for different areas of the head (front, back, sides, crown).

Baby scalp tour showing were baby hair grows

Lower density means there are less hair strands making the scalp visible. Sections of the head with higher density make it nearly impossible to see the scalp unless you part the hair. While you can see more of her scalp as a newborn. The crown of her head still seems to be the most dense months after her birth. Below shows her crown (the top of her head) as a newborn and at 24 months.

Hair density and texture close up of African American baby from 0 to 24 months

6. Hair Color

The color of our daughter's hair was the only thing I noticed that was contradictory to the UK study's findings. Meaning our daughter's hair got lighter as she aged (not darker). Her hair went from a deep black to a brown. How sunny it is also affects how drastic the color change is.

Do All Babies End Up With Super Tight Curls?

No. We have three girls who come from the same gene pool (same mom and dad), but have very different hair textures. See close-ups of their curls below.

closeups of 3 sisters with 3 different hair textures

Our youngest has the tightest coils (left), the oldest has fairly tight curls (right) and our middle daughter has the loosest texture (middle). Each picture shows our girls' natural curls. I included them because I want you to see their curls in their rawest form without being manipulated. If I brushed, combed, or styled their curls, their hair would look very different.

I also included these texture shots because all of our girls LOVED wearing their hair out. When their hair grew long enough to style, I would gather their curls into cute pony tails. My goal was to keep their curls together so that they would stay hydrated. But our girls would shake their heads and take out any hair ties. This forced me to learn how to take care of their hair in its purest form. We live in a culture that is big on "getting the hair done" or "styling our hair," and I'm so grateful our girls taught me to just let their hair be. I've noticed it allows their hair to grow like crazy.

Did You Notice Any Similarities Across Your Children's Texture Changes?

Yes. All our girls were born with straight/slightly wavy hair. The texture changed for each of them within that first year. Below shows our older girls' hair textures from birth to 2 years old.

kids natural hair journey 0-2 years old

Can Babies Have Curly Hair At Birth?

It depends on the parent's hair textures. Our girls were not born with curly hair, but it became curlier as they aged.

When Does Baby Hair Start To Curl?

Every baby is different. All of our girls' hair started to curl around 4 months. That's around the same time that intermediate hair allegedly grows.

Can A Baby Have Straight Hair At Birth And Still Have Straight Hair As They Age?

Yes! Hair texture depends on the parent's genes. We have family members who ended up with straight hair despite coming from a parent with straight hair and a parent with kinky hair. Meaning, sometimes our little ones will have a mixture of their parent's hair textures. And other times they can share the hair texture of one parent.

Baby hair type and textures chart

How Can Preparing For Baby's Hair Texture Be Helpful?

Preparing for your baby's hair can be super exciting. In fact, terms related to "baby hair texture change" are searched over 600 times a day on Google. Some parents may want to know their baby's texture to start planning for their hair routine. Having a gentle hair plan is fairly easy the first year. Lovingly cleansing and covering your baby's head is all you need. You can also incorporate relaxing head massages to support hair growth. Once babies reach their first birthday, they may start to move. At this point their texture may change, they may also have a head full of hair, and the adorable styles you imagined may take more time and patience than you expected. There may also be social pressures from your partner, family or others who expect your baby's hair to look a certain way.

Some moms may choose to outsource hair care to a hair professional, family or friend. This can be especially true for moms who have completely different hair textures and do not know where to start. Or it could be true for moms who outsource their own hair care. Other moms may choose to take this time to learn to do their baby's hair themselves. In our home, I shared the same hair texture as our daughter, but because I always straightened my hair, I did not know how to care for her hair as it grew out of her scalp. This led to me keeping her hair (and mine) very short for the first few years of her life.

Whatever path you choose, developing a hair routine that you and your baby absolutely love is most important. Getting to know and appreciating our babies' natural hair, will also help them have a healthy hair journey for the rest of their lives. This way they will know what healthy hair for their unique texture looks like and how to properly care for it.

If you're curious which texture your little one will have, you can take our baby hair predictor quiz and we'll let you know what we think.

Baby Hair Texture Predictor

Wishing you the best of luck with your little one!

Until next time...

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