How can I clean my toddler’s hair without crying?

As an infant, my daughter didn’t mind me washing her hair. But now, all of a sudden, I find myself asking how can I clean my toddler’s hair without crying? 

Luckily, there are several ways to help your toddler be more comfortable with having their hair washed. Choose what makes sense for your child and what upsets them about washing their hair. 

  • Make bathtime fun
  • Distraction 
  • Let them help
  • Practice
  • Avoid getting water in their eyes

It’s also important to use one strategy consistently,  several times, so your toddler has a chance to get used to it.

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how to clean your toddlers hair without crying

Make bathtime fun

Washing your toddler’s hair without crying starts before bath time- some kids get upset as soon as you mention the word bath. Try a different game or routine to get your toddler thinking about something else. 

It could be anything like a bubble bath, playing with shaving cream, or a new bath toy. I’ve found spatulas, measuring cups, measuring spoons, and other kitchen utensils make great bath toys! 

=Related post: Looking for more fun bath time games? Check out 36 fun and simple activities you can do at home with your toddler, including plenty of ideas for bath time!=


At first, I was able to distract my daughter by giving her bath toys to hold while I washed her hair. This worked a few times. But after three or four times, she caught on and would cry as soon as I got out the cup to pour water on her head. 

Let them help

Explaining the entire process and letting her help sometimes lets me wash my toddlers hair without crying. At our house, it goes something like this

First, we’re going to get your hair wet by pouring a cup of water on it! I let my toddler hold the cup and we fill it and dump the water out a few times before pouring it on her head. 

Next, we’re going to put shampoo in your hair to get it all bubbly! I put shampoo in my hand and a dab in my daughter’s hand. We rub our hands together to make lots of bubbles. Then I ask if she wants to put some of the bubbles in her hair. Many toddlers love having the ability to help and have some control!

Finally, we’re going to rinse your hair. Would you like to put the water in the cup? 

And now we’re all done! It might seem silly or unnecessary, but it’s important to let toddler’s know when something is finished!

And that’s it! Sometimes, explaining what will happen next and letting your toddler help will prevent tears! 


Some children aren’t used to the feeling of water running down their head and neck. Pouring water gently onto their stomach, legs, and arms is a great place to start! When they are comfortable with that, try the chest and upper back. Work your way closer to their head!

How to wash a toddlers hair without getting water in their eyes

This turned out to be my daughter’s hangup. She just didn’t understand looking up to keep water from running into her eyes. She’d get mad as soon as the water touched her head, look down, and it was all downhill from there. 

Here are a few different strategies to avoid getting water in their eyes: 

Make a game

Personally, this strategy worked best for my two year old. A few games you can try to wash your toddler’s hair without crying:

  • Here’s the secret for washing your hair! Look up at the shower! To go the extra mile, hang something colorful or interesting on the showerhead or shower curtain rod to attract their attention. 
  • Let’s play hairdresser! Make a big deal of being at the barber shop or beauty salon. Use the shampoo to make a funny hairstyle and show them in the mirror. 
  • Tell a story! Make up a fun story or talk about how one of their favorite book or tv characters gets their hair washed. Even better, find a book about hair washing and read it before bath time 
  • Pretend to wash someone else’s hair! “Wash” the hair on a favorite doll or bath toy and talk your toddler through how the process works 

=Related post: 11 simple tips to baby proof your floor heaters=

Washcloth over the eyes

Try holding a folded washcloth on your child’s forehead to keep water from dripping into their eyes. Sometimes, playing peek-a-boo, or finding a brightly colored wash cloth helped at my house!

Try a visor 

Click the image to check the price of bath visors on Amazon

They might look silly but these visors work well! No matter which way your child looks, the water can’t get in their eyes or ears! It’s also great for kids with long or thick hair

It may take some practice for children to get used to wearing them.


Click the image to see the price of children’s goggles on Amazon

You can also try goggles to keep water out of your child’s eyes. Goggles give you a tighter fit versus a visor. But unlike a visor, they won’t keep water from getting into your toddler’s ears.

=Related post: Ready to get your toddler into a big kid bed? Check out my favorite toddler bed rail that doesn’t require a box spring!=

Conclusions: How can I wash my toddler’s hair without crying?

Overall, there are several different strategies for cleaning your toddler’s hair without crying. Choosing the right approach will depend on your child’s age, their specific reason for crying while you wash their hair, and of course, your unique toddler! Using a consistent approach during bath time will help them understand what will happen next. And hopefully prevent crying!

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