The Tangle, A Milestone

She’s long had an obsession with twirling and rubbing and combing her chubby little fingers through hair to fall asleep.

When my hair is in a bun or pulled out of her reach while I nurse her, she pulls at the side of my face, demanding that I take it down so she can weave it around her hands.

When I was away on a trip this summer, Scott laid in bed with her, feeding her a bottle, and she reached up and started twirling his armpit hair.  Equal parts adorable and gross.

And, of course, she’s constantly twirling her own hair. I put her down to sleep on her tummy, and her hand immediately goes to the back of her head while the other hand grips her lamby.

All the twirling has finally lead to a bit of a milestone in the life of a girl.

Her first tangle.

It’s a beast. I’m a tiny bit afraid of it. This thing means business.

To be honest, I don’t even know where to start with trying to get it out. A brush is not going to do the trick, and a comb seems like it might rip all the hair out and leave her with a bald spot.

My mom suggested putting her in the tub with a bunch of bath toys and smothering it with conditioner, then trying to work it out while Leyna plays. I think we’ll try that after nap time today.

I’m open to other suggestions if anyone wants to throw them my way. I’m confident this certainly won’t be the only time we deal with this.

I have many memories from my own childhood of struggling with huge nests of tangles at the nape of my neck. It makes me think I must have played really hard as a child because my hair is just as long these days, and I hardly ever have to run a brush through it.

Leyna let me take these pictures, sitting still just long enough to fill in all the appointments in her “new” day planner. I got a new momAgenda planner, and I gave her my old one, which I confess had many blank pages from the time of life in the last year when I just couldn’t make myself face the demands of daily to-dos.

She’s been Little Miss Busy all morning, sitting down at her table with  a pen, sighing “Okay” and getting to work. Emulating me, I suppose.

There’s time for work, little girl. Plenty of time for work when you grow up and don’t play hard enough to get tangles anymore.

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  1. We get HORRIBLE tangles DAILY! I find that the Earth’s Best organic detangler in her hair at bath time helps a ton… Just one of the joys with daughters… right?

  2. Callie gets a huge tangle in the same spot every single day. I just use a spritz of detangler on the comb and that does the trick. Until it comes back 12 hours later, of course.

  3. My daughter is a hair twirler too. She is 3 1/2 and we condition her hair and that really helps the but tangles fall right out. I also used a detangler spray for the really bad ones but we have since chopped off into an inverted bob.

  4. She is too precious. I had horrible knots and tangles as a child. Use a comb, use a lot of detangler. Best tip ever: Start from the bottom of the tangle! Hold hair at the scarlp while combing to minimize pulls. We used J&J detangler ( as kids. Conditioner works in a pinch but can make it hard to get fine knots out. You want to hair to not stick together so the comb is effective.

    • To add b/c I just remembered, Pinterest had something about making your own detangler spray. I think it was spray bottle with half conditioner, half water mixed. Also scarlp? Scalp. My mind is obviously a little off today. I completely blame it on loss of sleep due to feeling like a pregnant whale.

  5. My mom had to chase me around with a brush as a child. I had curly hair and it was ALWAYS tangled. She often cut it short to avoid the confrontations! Now, I have a toddler with curls of her own and I am the one doing the chasing. I hope your daughter takes her time growing up and I hope mine does too.

  6. We love the Knot Genie for tangly hair! It’s a brush, but it’s very gentle. It often goes on sale on some of those mommy/baby bargain sites and it’s not too expensive on Amazon. We bought one for our daughter, then bought one for me, and 2 for our nieces! 🙂 I thought they were a gimmick until we finally couldn’t think of anything else to try for our 3.5 yr old daughter. The hype might not be all true, but I can tell you that brushing my daughter’s hair is much, much easier and more pleasant now.

  7. I second the Knot Genie (and coconut oil for the really, really bad ones…and gum, for that matter). Few things cause more tension in this house than fighting with my 6 year old rat’s nest.

  8. Spray detangler! I remember crying as my mother brushed my tangles out, then someone clued her in to that stuff. MUCH better. There are several brands and if you wanted to get all crazy, I’m sure there’s a homemade one on pinterest and you could decorate the bottle and…

    ok, maybe that’s crazy talk, but seriously I just googled it and apparently conditioner in water, shake and spray on.

  9. My 2 year old is a twirler. We had a nasty knot the other day because she took one of those bubble blowers that has a fan to her head. Awesome. It got stuck and left a mega knot. We had tears. I found a distraction for her (that wasn’t mobile) and chunked a wad of conditioner in her dry hair then gently took the comb to the knot (yes, start at the bottom – i feel like all women should know that?!) The knot came out relatively easy with minimal hair loss. Followed by a nice calming bath (really, they are never calm but I like to pretend). I find that the detangler sprays don’t work on these tricky, tangled, OMG knots. Good luck!!

  10. Laura Cochran on

    A vote for spray detangler here too. It works great on the rat’s nest my daughter wakes up with every morning.

  11. Erin Blair Gobin on

    I love milkshake detangler. It’s not a baby product, but it turns my son’s tangles into soft adorable curls, and it smells like cupcakes. I’d say spray it, get a fine tooth comb, and work on pulling out just a few strands of hair at a time. Work from the bottom of the “chunk” pulling out hair, til you get to the top and the remaining tiny knot should just fall out.

  12. Kellyn Fritz on

    We used a combo of regular conditoner and spray in for my daughters knots. It still is the best way, and she is now 10.

  13. Your mom is absolutely right. My three year old has super-long hair and it’s a mess. She rarely lets me brush it so about once a week she gets a conditioning treatment. I put it in her hair and she plays in the tub while I do my best to de-tangle her locks with my fingers. Good luck!

  14. Still haven’t touched this tangle. Maybe I should sedate her first. Or we’ll just embrace it and name it.

  15. Kelli Robertson on

    I spray detangler on my daughters hair then gently comb it while i hold her in place with my legs wrapped around her so she can’t get away. I also use a detangling kids shampoo to try to avoid the tangle. Good luck!

  16. Both of my kids have SUPER curly hair so we deal with daily tangles. Once, my oldest had what can only be described as a dreadlock. I agree with the other mamas. Get a nice amount of conditioner, rub it into the tangle, do as much as you can with your fingers and then gently comb. Sometimes it helps to get the tangle soaking wet before bushing. Good luck!!

  17. Yesterday I had to admit defeat and cut it out 🙁 I tried everything! Conditioner, Crisco, oil, combs, brushes. It was like a tiny baby dreadlock.

  18. The subsequent time I learn a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I imply, I know it was my option to read, but I actually thought youd have one thing attention-grabbing to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about one thing that you might repair should you werent too busy in search of attention. ARFHAYCKFFARWGUW

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