Are Babies and Toddlers Allowed to Have Dreads?

Can kids have dreads

Hairstyles are a form of self-expression, cultural identity, and personal choice. 

Dreadlocks have been a part of diverse cultures for centuries and are often cherished as a symbol of heritage, spirituality, and individuality. 

However, a heated debate surrounds the question of whether babies and toddlers should be allowed to have dreadlocks. Concerns about cultural appropriation, hair care, and the child’s autonomy have sparked this conversation. 

In this article, I will delve into the different perspectives surrounding this issue and explore the factors that influence the decision of whether youngsters should be allowed to wear locs.

How early can you start dreads?

The journey to having dreadlocks begins when you’re ready. There’s no strict rule about when you can start dreads, but in the case of children, it’s really important to consider their age primarily as it relates to the stage of hair development in which they’re in. 

Babies and toddlers have delicate scalps. Their hair is typically much finer and softer when compared to older children and adults. 

This means that starting dreads too early can put unnecessary strain and discomfort on their scalp. 

I recommend waiting until their hair has grown and thickened to a suitable texture for locking. This would generally be around the age of 2 or 3 for most kids but could be a little later. Each person’s hair develops differently, so this timeline will vary from child to child.

Waiting until your child reaches the appropriate age allows their hair to go through the early stages of growth, ensuring that their scalp is ready to handle the weight and tension associated with dreadlocks. 

Thicker hair also provides a better foundation for creating and maintaining resilient locks, making the process a lot more manageable (for both of you). 😉 

Tip: Before starting the loc process, I recommended consulting with a professional loctician who specializes in working with children’s hair. They can assess your child’s hair type, texture, and scalp condition to determine if they are ready for dreads. 

A knowledgeable loctician will also guide you through the proper techniques and maintenance routine to ensure your child’s dreads are started and cared for correctly.

In the event that your child is experiencing a pre-existing medical condition or is taking medication that impacts their hair growth, it would also be a good idea to discuss the option of dreadlocks with their pediatrician. 

Seeking professional advice and waiting for the right age can help ensure a positive and healthy dreadlock journey for your child.

Can babies have locs?

Can babies get dreadlocks?

Yes, babies can indeed have dreadlocks but personally speaking, I wouldn’t recommend it. 

There are several factors to consider before choosing this hairstyle journey for your little one.

1. While some parents choose to start their children’s dreadlocks from a very young age, it’s important to remember that babies have extremely delicate scalps and sensitive skin. Infants require special care during the first few years and giving them dreadlocks this early on can cause them discomfort and scalp irritation.

2. Starting dreads on very short or sparse hair may not yield the desired results. Waiting until your baby’s hair has grown to a sufficient length and density ensures a better foundation for the locks to develop.

3. Another crucial factor is the maintenance involved in caring for dreads. Regular maintenance is essential for healthy locs. Even though a baby’s hair may not require as much time and dedication (because you’re dealing with such a small amount of hair), it’s going to be a challenge to keep those locs neat. Another thing to think about is root maintenance… if it’s painful for an adult, how much more unbearable is it going to be for an infant? The comfort and well-being of your baby should always be the priority.

If there’s one thing I can’t argue, it’s that babies would look beyond adorable with dreadlocks. But let’s be real…is it really necessary that early on in their life? I don’t think so…

Can kids have locs?

In my opinion, yes, most kids can have locs. But should they?

These are a few thoughts to consider:

1. Make sure your child’s hair and scalp is ready. Waiting until your child is around the age of two or three (if not older) is definitely recommended because their hair needs time to grow and thicken up. This will make starting and maintaining locs way easier. Keep in mind that each child’s hair develops at a different pace, so it’s important to assess readiness on an individual basis.

2. Learn the different ways to make dreadlocks. The process of creating and maintaining locs can differ depending on your child’s hair type. In this article, you can learn the different methods of starting locs and which hair types they work best for. This will help you decide which method to use on your child.

3. Low maintenance doesn’t mean no maintenance. One significant advantage of locs is the reduced level of maintenance needed compared to other hairstyles. Locs are known for their low-maintenance nature, making them a convenient choice for busy parents and active kids. On the other hand, while they require less daily styling and upkeep, they do require daily moisturizing, weekly washing, and constant root separation.

4. Locs are a long-term commitment. Locs require time and dedication to grow long and healthy. Assuming that your child wants to get dreads, it’s really important that you help them understand the commitment their decision will require before embarking on the journey. Of course, locs can be undone or cut if desired, but it’s harder for a little girl or boy to understand this than a teenager or adult.

Can kids have locs?

Pros and cons of locking your kids’ hair

Like any hairstyle, there are a few pros and cons to think about when it comes to dreads.


Opting to lock your child’s hair can offer several advantages.

1. Cultural appreciation: Locks have a rich history rooted in various religions and cultures. Consider the cultural and personal significance of dreads for your family. If your child comes from a background where locks hold deep historical, cultural, or spiritual meaning, allowing them to have dreads can be a way to embrace and celebrate their heritage. Additionally, if your child expresses a strong desire for locks and it aligns with their sense of self-expression and identity, then it’s also worth considering.

2. Educational value: Locking your child’s hair offers you the chance to teach them and their peers about the historical and cultural significance of locks in different societies. In turn, this can foster an understanding and appreciation for other people groups and the diverse melting pot we live in.

3. Encouraging autonomy: Allowing your child to have locks gives them the freedom to express themselves, develop a sense of autonomy, and become more independent from an early age. 

4. Self-expression: Locs can be a beautiful form of self-expression, which allows your child to showcase their unique personality and embrace their style.

5. Self-confidence: Dreadlocks can help your child develop a strong sense of confidence and self-acceptance which can have a lasting impact on their self-esteem.

6. Versatility: Locks offer a wide range of styling possibilities. You and your child can experiment with different styles and accessories to add an extra touch of creativity.

7. Low maintenance: Compared to other hairstyles, locks require less daily styling and upkeep. This can be a time-saver for busy parents and a relief for active kids. But this is not to say that low maintenance means no maintenance. Dreadlocks require a different level of care than traditional hairstyles, and this is something that needs to be well understood before your kids make the transition.


There are several potential drawbacks to having dreadlocks.

1. Potential scalp irritation: Some children may experience scalp sensitivity or irritation when their hair is locked. The tightness of the locks and the weight they exert on the scalp can cause discomfort, itchiness, or even soreness.

It’s essential to monitor your child’s scalp health and address any issues promptly.

2. Maintenance commitment: Locks require regular maintenance to keep them clean, healthy, and well-groomed. This includes moisturizing (daily), washing (weekly), monthly re-twisting sessions, and root maintenance (every few weeks or months).

All of these can be time-consuming, require patience, and can be financially costly if you’re getting professional maintenance. Fixing the roots can be painful too, so you’ll want to take into account your child’s pain tolerance level.

Before committing to locs, you and your child need to be prepared to invest the necessary time and effort into maintaining them, otherwise, they may develop issues like uneven matting and mildew.

3. Limited styling options: While locs offer versatility in terms of different loc sizes and lengths, they limit styling options compared to loose natural hair. Locs cannot be easily undone if your child all of a sudden desires a different hairstyle.

If your child enjoys experimenting with different looks or frequently changing their hair, dreads may not be the best choice at this time. 

4. Long-term commitment: Locking hair requires dedication and patience. While dreadlocks can be undone or cut if desired, it often takes a long period of time for the hair to return to its previous state. Younger children may not fully understand the commitment and maintenance required for dreads.

You should have open conversations with your child, explaining the process and the responsibility that comes with having locs. It might be worth it to wait until your child is older and better able to comprehend and participate in the maintenance.

6. Risk of lice: Unfortunately, head lice is fairly common among school-aged children, particularly those in primary school (or public schools in general). Getting lice out of locs is not impossible, but it will be a lot more challenging than if your child has loose hair.

7. Perception and hair discrimination: Unfortunately, societal biases and misconceptions still exist surrounding hairstyles like locs. While everyone is allowed to wear dreadlocks, regardless of color, race, culture, or background, there are people who don’t agree.

Some individuals may hold prejudiced views or make assumptions about your child based on their locked hair. This can lead to possible discrimination in certain environments like schools.

Another thing is that dreadlocks won’t look perfect overnight. It can take at least a year for dreads to mature, so your child may get made fun of because of the odd look of their starter locs during the early stages of maturity.

It’s important to prepare your child to handle any potential challenges with confidence and share with others what their locs mean to them.

8. As a parent, you may face backlash too: It’s possible that parents will take a lot of heat for allowing their kids to get locs. This happened to Kristin Miller, a mom who went viral for turning her 3-year-old daughter’s hair into dreads. Trolls oftentimes told her she was neglecting and abusing her child, and because both mom and daughter are white, some people pulled the cultural appropriation card on her as well.

9. School and social environment: Some schools, after-school programs, and sports organizations have strict dress codes or policies that discriminate against locs. There have been countless situations in which kids and teens were forced to cut off their locs because they violated the school’s “grooming code”.

Two male students, Kaden Bradford and De’Andre Arnold, received national attention when they filed a lawsuit against Barbers Hill Independent School District in Texas. Barbers Hill High School had suspended the boys for having locs (claiming that it was against school policy) and were told they could not return to school until they cut them off.

On top of that, De’Andre was not allowed to attend his high school graduation because of his uncut locs. The U.S. District Court ruled in the boys’ favor saying that “the school’s policy was unconstitutional, discriminatory, and that it violated the student’s right to freedom of expression.”

In Malawi, children also faced discrimination for having locs. However, in June 2023, a high court judge named Zione Ntaba ruled that the children of Malawi’s Rastafarian community “can no longer be barred from going to state schools because of their dreadlocks.”

Although these are huge victories that set the precedent for future conflicts of this kind, it may be a good idea to look into the school’s policy and dress code, especially if your child goes to a private school. I’m not saying you should accept their discriminatory policies, but you can inform them and if needed, cite the court cases mentioned above.

When deciding whether or not to lock your child’s hair, remember that it is a matter of personal preference. Ultimately, it’s a choice that comes down to just you and your child. In any case, it’s important to consider all the benefits and consequences that a decision like that can make in their life. 

Ultimately your child’s health, happiness, and overall well-being come first. If you keep those things a priority, then you’ll know whether dreadlocks are a good or bad decision for them at their age. 

If now isn’t the right time, then look into other natural hair options and know that locs will always remain an option for them when they get older.

Whether you agree or disagree with me, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Be sure to leave them in the comments below. 

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