Hair, Skin, Eyes, Nails, Ears, and Tooth Care

Your two year old’s oil glands on her scalp and body don’t become fully functional until puberty, so shampoo only as needed. Once a week is usually plenty.

Your two year old’s oil glands on her scalp and body don’t become fully functional until puberty, so shampoo only as needed. Once a week is usually plenty.


Brushing hair can help bring oils to the surface of the scalp. When trying to get out knots and tangles, try using a detangling spray and a wide-toothed comb or a brush with round-tipped bristles. Start combing or brushing out the ends and then work your way up to the scalp to avoid tugging and pulling.

Working Together

- Let your child use the comb in her hair or on a doll before combing her hair yourself.
- When in the bath, let her run her fingers in the shampoo just like you would.
- Let her wash her doll’s hair in the tub. * Let your child watch you wash her hair by propping up a mirror in the bathtub.
- While rinsing, have your child tilt her head back and use a bucket to avoid getting shampoo in her sensitive eyes.

Skin Care

Dry skin and dehydration can occur due to the weather.

When cleaning dry skin:

- Pat down skin and make sure not to wipe rough, chapped skin (especially face and cheeks).
- Apply sunscreen when going outside because toddlers’ sensitive skin can burn easily.

Caring for dry skin:
- Try cutting back on bath time and sticking to 10-minute baths.
- Using the moisturizer within minutes of taking your child out of the tub will seal in the water that’s still in her skin from the bath.
- Choose a non-alcohol-based moisturizer, such as Aquaphor® Baby Healing Ointment or Cetaphil® Moisturizing Cream.
- Reapply moisturizers at least two or three times a day.
- Offer your child plenty of water year round to replace the moisture that’s evaporating from her skin.
- Add more fatty foods to her diet, such as avocados, flax seed, and olive oil.

Eye Care

Provide sun protection when outdoors by getting in the habit of using UV coated kid’s sunglasses. This is especially important if your child’s eyes are lighter in color.

The presence of eye and vision problems is rare. Most little ones begin life with healthy eyes and start developing visual abilities with no problems.

You will see that your child’s hand-eye coordination and depth perception are well developed by this time. Remember: Consult your pediatrician if you see any of the signs listed below.

Check your child’s eyes regularly to see if:

- your child’s eyes are crossed,
- they are sensitive to light,
- one eye is wandering,
- both eyes cannot follow an object as it moves back and forth in front of her.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is the swelling of the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelid. Conjunctivitis can cause parents to worry because the eye looks extremely red. It does spread very quickly and is fairly common. It does not cause long-term damage to the eye or your toddler’s vision. Some types of pink eye will go away without treatment, but other types will need medical attention.

Symptoms usually include:

- watery discharge,
- veiny redness in the white area of an eye,
- itchy and swollen eyes,
- stringy discharge that causes eyelids to stick together, especially after sleeping.

Conjunctivitis has three forms: allergic, viral, or bacterial.

Allergic conjunctivitis is not contagious and is usually connected to seasonal allergies, irritation, or intolerance to medication or anything topical put on the face that comes in contact with your child’s eyes.

Viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are contagious and usually occur from an upper respiratory tract infection, sore throat, or cold.

These types require antibiotic drops or ointment from a doctor. A cold compress can also help relieve discomfort.

Nail Care

Your child is constantly playing and exploring, so it is not uncommon for her to get play dough, food, or dirt in her fingernails. Try to keep her fingernails short so that they can collect the least amount of dirt. Wash your child’s hands frequently, especially after activities or outside time. You can use a nail brush or toothbrush to help clean under your toddler’s fingernails.


Trim your child’s fingernails after a bath. Water softens the nails, making them easier to trim and cut. Sing a song or count her fingers to keep her engaged and patient while you finish.

Ear Care

At bath time, clean the outside crevices of your child’s ear with a damp, soft cloth.

DO NOT probe the inside of the ear. The middle ear is not fully developed, and you could end up puncturing the eardrum.

Ear Infections

Ear infections are most common in the middle ear because the Eustachian tube, which is a small passage leading from the nose and mouth (connecting the esophagus) to the area of the middle ear, does not fully develop until age three. Because it is so small, the Eustachian tube gets clogged after a cold.

Signs that your child has an ear infection may be your child pulling on her ear or seeing drainage come from her ear. Go see your pediatrician. Ear infections can get painful.

Tooth Care

By the time she is three years old, your child will develop 20 primary teeth. By 15 months, your child’s molars will start coming in. These can be extremely painful for your toddler. Offer your toddler teething toys or frozen fruits to gnaw on to soothe teething pains. Topical ointments for teething can numb gum areas inside the mouth. Consult your pediatrician before administering any medication orally.

Brushing Teeth

Try to get your child in the habit of brushing his teeth. Get a small-head toothbrush with soft, round bristles and brush your child’s teeth in a circular motion along the sides and along the outer gum lines. Brushing can help clean any food stuck in teeth and massage your child’s gums while he is teething. Let him brush his own teeth for a little while before you brush them.

Teething and Biting

During the teething stage, toddlers also enter a biting stage. Children tend to bite because of a combination of teething and a lack of language skills. They are still learning to communicate what they want or need. Because toddlers are teething at this age, they are orally stimulated by the introduction to solid and crunchy foods. They begin to test the waters and see what will happen if they bite you or their friends. Sometimes it is to see if they can bite through the skin and other times it is to see how the friend will react. Toddlers also tend to bite due to a lack of language skills that are necessary for them to express feelings like anger, frustration, joy, and excitement. Toddlers turn to biting as a substitute message for “I am mad at you!” or “I am very excited!”

What can you do about biting?

- Have teething toys around for your toddler when he is teething so he has something else to bite.

- Build his language skills through sign language. Encourage him to use signs for words like more, no, and up so that he can communicate to you what he wants without getting frustrated.

- Mouth the words and say them slowly as you sign to help your toddler learn how to say the words as he signs them, too.

- Let your toddler know that teeth are for biting food and not friends. Redirect him to another activity so he can focus on something else.