Styles for the wispy haired toddler


Meet Savy.  She’s a little ham!  She loves getting her hair done, acting like a princess and twirling around to “Let it Go”.  You could say she’s the perfect daughter for me haha!  Every time I post a photo of her whether it be on instagram or here on the blog, I get a flood of emails from frustrated moms who have so many questions about her hair and our routine.  You mommas are totally right– doing toddler hair is hard!  It takes a ton of patience, determination and a few tricks up the sleeves.  While there is skill involved, it’s mostly about learning what works for you and your babe and being consistent.  I’ve had less than two years of practice and all toddlers and all hair is different so I am absolutely no expert.  I’m happy to share what I’ve learned along the way though, and I hope that this helps some of you moms who have been asking for advise!


  1. How do you get Savy to sit still?  This was a lot harder a year ago, but now she just knows that it’s expected of her.  The key is to start them out when they’re little!  I’ve been doing Savy’s hair since she was a baby so it’s just something she’s always known.  Sometimes I’ll give her my iPhone and she’ll either play a game or watch UmiZoomi (the best show ever).  Most times though she just sucks her thumb and snuggles her blanket.  Don’t get me wrong, there have been many tantrums.  On floor, screaming until she almost passes out, tantrums.  That’s when suckers come in handy or that determination I was talking about earlier!  I’m more stubborn than she is and she knows it.  We won’t leave the house until her hair is done and she usually wants to go so that’s a good motivator for her.  If your daughter is older and you haven’t been very consistent at doing her hair, start now.  Be consistent.Another thing that I’ve found helpful is being prepared.  I know that the second she steps on the stool I have five minutes.  I have the comb, water, bows and elastics out and I already know how I’m going to style her hair.  I don’t figure it out as I go — I’ve already decided.  That alone saves me precious time.  In the next little bit I plan on printing out all the photos we’ve taken of her hair and making a little flip book for the bathroom.  She’s starting to become opinionated so I think a book would be perfect.  Choosing the style will keep her happy and it’ll help us not forget some of the styles we’ve created.  If you can get your daughter involved, give her some skin in the game, you’re likely to have a more successful morning.
  2. How do you get the hairstyles to stay?  Because of the short wispies, braided toddler styles usually only look good for the first half of the day.  Naptime destroys them!  If you put some gel on the tips of your fingers before you begin braiding I’ve noticed that helps keep the braids looking nice and put together until at least naptime.  I haven’t found a gel yet that I love but I’ve been wanting to try this one.   If we are going to the park or the zoo and I know her hair will need to stay put all day, I make sure to secure all the layers and wispies with clear elastics.  You’re going to want to get your toddlers hair damp, not dripping wet but damp, and then before you secure the section you’ve combed give it a good spray with hairspray and go over it one more time with the comb.  I use Kenra 25 on her and her hair usually stays in place all day.
  3. How do you get out the elastics without ripping all her hair out? I’ve been using this amazing cutter comb for the past two months and it’s seriously theeeee- best.  It’s been designed for little girls but I use it all the time now on myself to cut the elastics out instead of pulling on them.  Before the cutter tool I would pick up the elastic with my fingers and then use small eyebrow scissors to cut out elastic.  Two main reasons why that didn’t work well for us, 1) we were always losing the scissors and I’d end up just breaking the elastic which took forever and made Savy annoyed because we were yanking at her head for five minutes and 2) ripping out the elastics caused so much damage.  With the cutter tool you use the pick to gather the elastic and then you just push it forward and the comb cuts the elastic out.  You only need one hand, it’s so easy Brian can now take them out (hallelujah) and you don’t risk damaging the hair.cuttercomb
    These cutter combs are no longer available in stores but the manufacturers are giving Twist Me Pretty the rights to sell them!  Woot!  If you’re interested in trying one of these cutter combs click here to see all buying options.  I’ll be using one in a video tomorrow so stay tuned if you want to see them in action!  ** update ** I no longer sell these combs, we sold a ton super fast, but I have learned you can buy them with another brush and some elastics in a pack at Target.
  4. Where do you buy your bows?  Now that Savy is older I find that the simple bows are easiest to keep in.  I still love the classy vintage bows but they’re not super practical for us at this point.  I follow Bloomies Handmade on instagram and they’re always sharing new sales.  I bought like 14 bows for under $40 a month or so back.  They’ve been our favorites!
  5. Must have tools:  These are the tools we use daily.  When I can’t find our water bottle I just cup water in my hands and get her hair wet that way.  Having good stretchy elastics is important so that you don’t damage their thin hair and then you’ll need a clip to help you with some of the styles.  Any clip works but I always have duck bill clips lying around so that’s just what I use.  The topsytail tool is a MUST!  I did it manually forever and well, I’ll never go back now that I know how painless and easy using the tool is.  You’ll want to tie the elastic half an inch from her scalp and then you just insert the end of the topsytail directly above the elastic.  Take the tail and pull it up into the loop and then pull down on the topsy tail.  I like to use topsy tails because I feel like it gives a prettier shape than just putting in the elastic.  And then the cutter tool we use every. single. day.  I use it as my comb and then before she gets in the bath Brian or I just quickly cut the elastics out.  Pain-free- it’s the best!


Water bottle |Elastics | Duck Bill Clip |Mini Topsy Tail | Cutter Comb

If you have any other questions let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer you.  I really am no expert but it’s been so much fun to play and experiment with Savy.  I hope she loves her hair when she grows up!  Below are a few of the styles I’ve been doing on her regularly.  It’s safe to say they are my go-to styles for her although there are many others we love.  If you’d like even more inspiration, make sure to checkout the Ten Creative Toddler Hairstyles article I wrote for Babble last fall.

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Isn’t she such a little sass?  This is one of those styles that works great when heading to the pool or when you know they’re going to be rough all day.  The succession of elastics keeps the hair tight and those wispy fly-a-ways down.

You’ll start out by spraying down the hair so it’s damp, section off that first section with your comb and secure it with an elastic.  Continue down until you reach her cowlick.  On that last section, throw it in a topsy tail so that the tail lays flat to the head and doesn’t stick up.  Then comb through the larger section on the other side and put it in a topsytail.  Braid the tails and secure in a ponytail.

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For this style you’ll want to start out by dampening the hair and getting some gel on your finger tips.  French braid the bang area back until it hits the upper ear like in the picture and then secure the braid with a clear elastic.  Go ahead and throw the ends into a messy bun.  Then start on the other side and wrap a french braid around the head until you have no more hair to add in.  I can almost make it to the other side but her hair is pretty thin and fairly short.  So when I run out of hair I just do a three strand braid and throw the ends into the first messy bun and then hide any flaws with a bow.  I absolutely love this hairstyle.  She gets so many compliments when her hair is like this.  If I use gel and spray it well it lasts all day but she does have hairs that come out near the nape of her neck after naptime.  When her bangs are short they usually fall out too so I will secure that first triangle section up front with a clear elastic and then start the french braid.st3 toddler hairstyles toddler hairstyles toddler hairstyles toddler hairstyles

This has been our number one favorite hairstyle.  I could not for the life of me get a good picture of her in it.  She’s been running away from pictures lately and it’s driving me nuts!

Split the hair in half and clip off one side with a duck bill clip- or any clip you have.  Then section off the bottom triangle and secure the top section with a duck bill clip.  Throw the bottom triangle into a topsy tail and then throw the rest of it into a messy bun.  Repeat on the other side.  If you spray this one well and wet the comb before making the sections, it’ll look nice all day.  Putting the topsy tails in those bottom sections will hold all those loose wispies nicely!  Plus the bows… ahh the bows make it so adorable!
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This style is so cute and super easy!  You’ll just french braid that center section and turn it into a three strand braid once you hit the back of the head.  Repeat on the right and then on the left and then throw the rest of the hair into a messy bun.  Like the rest of the styles, start with damp hair and use a comb to get those perfect lines

What are some ways you’re styling your little girls hair?  I’d love to see pictures!  Tag me on instagram pretty please?!  I always love finding new ways to style Savy’s hair, especially ones that hold and are fairly quick to do.  Come back tomorrow to see 5 quick workout hairstyles and also to see that cutter comb in action!

Abby Smith

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24 thoughts on “Styles for the wispy haired toddler

  1. Great job mom. Your little ones hair looks great! ? I make handmade ? hair bows and clips that I sell through etsy. ? if anyone is interested please take a look ? shop name is extravagantkids!

  2. Your daughter is beautiful and I love these ideas! I can’t wait to try some of these on my little princess! She’s only 3 and loves to have her hair done. It’s just getting long enough to try things other than ponytails and pigtails. Thank you so much!

  3. First of all she looks so amazing and adorable! Those hairstyle is one of the best toddler hair styles I have seen so far together with those fancy hair accessories that looks perfect with it.

  4. They are aww so cute but u need to put more in there im trying to find a perfect easy hairstyle for me and my sister Kristen because we r wearing dresses

  5. your daughter is beautiful. i have many of the same problems doing my 6 yr olds hair. she is a little older but she has very fine slick hair and it can be a pain. i have the rubberband comb as well and would love to buy a backup if you can tell me how to go about that. instead of traditional gel i use the “got to be” yellow spike hair glue. i always have to wet her hair to do it so I spray her down with water and rub a very small amount into all of her hair, the same way most people use mousse. we do a lot of multi rubber band designs and pig tails so if i work on one side and the other side starts to dry i just remist with water and after about 15 seconds it softens and can be combed easily. i dont know why the makers claim its waterproof because it isn’t. if you want to see pics so you can see how that product looks applied that way then just email me and i will forward you some and figure out how to buy a second comb as well. thanks!

    ([email protected])

  6. So I just started incorporating topsey tails
    Into the girls hair (I’m their nanny) there’s two reasons I really like them: it really does help with their shorter hairs and I cannot French braid (I’ve tried so many times!) but if you do two or more topsey tails in a row I feel like it gives an illusion of a hair style similar to the French braid 🙂

  7. My youngest has hair that I think is similar to Savy’s hair now (based on instagram pics). I have really thick dark hair, so this fair, fine, slick hair is not a thing I do well. Any advice…or maybe a post…on products you use with her hair? And I more mean shampoo. My girl’s hair seems to get flat really fast, have a lot of static and just in general is so soft it doesn’t want to cooperate…ever. The water bottle idea has helped, but I’d like to leave her hair down sometimes and it just doesn’t look cute that way…I’m wondering if it’s time to change from baby shampoo to something else.

  8. i recently started watching your website. Right away i was in love with it! I love your style and your hairstyles! I cant wait to see what more you have on this website! BTW: your so pretty and you have a great voice. As simple as your hair tutorials are, im am just not capable of achieving the right look. Well practice makes perfect! Oh and you have the most precious family Congrats! hah thanks for all that you do on this website, it makes me think differently about the world… lol i dont know how. hah bye!

  9. Can you do videos on how you do toddler hair?? I have a toddler with thin short layered hair and never know how to style it 🙁

  10. She’s so cute! And these were some great ideas. I’ve never cut out my rubber bands. I can see why you would need to on wispy little girl hair, but do you think it’s a good idea for grown-up hair too?

  11. Thank you for this! I’m a firm believer of starting them early too, my daughter is used to me playing with her hair and now at 2 she’ll stay put (mostly). I have Hot Tot Styling gel and while it smells nice (like baby powder) and smooths nicely it doesn’t hold! By one hour it looks as if nothing is holding her hair in place. Have not tried the pomade so interested to see if that would work.

  12. I get the same question about how do you get her to stay still to do her hair. And my response is the same, do it every day and start when they are super small…If they have hair. My daughter is almost 2 (2 weeks from now) and she generally sits still, because as you said “its routine”. Yes it’s hard at first because they don’t understand, but just keep on doing it, and they will get it and learn to love it. I love the new ideas, I think we will be trying #4 today. Thank you for sharing!

  13. I can’t get the website to let me check out with one of those combs!! I really want one haha!! Thanks 🙂

    1. Hey Lara!! Has it worked for you yet? We’ve had a bunch of orders so I think it’s working? Let me know if you try again and it doesn’t work!

  14. One of the best “tools” I use is a stool. The child has to keep her balance so she isn’t backing up every time I braid.

    Also, with 3 girls my biggest though about doing hair is – know when to quit and do pigtails!

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