Your child may be either frightened by or very sensitive to the feeling of water splashing in her face and the tug of the comb through her hair. Kids who have this kind of tactile (touch) sensitivity tend to react to a range of sensory experiences, finding certain clothes uncomfortable and itchy, or disliking seams on their socks and tags in their shirts.
For hair washing, you can use a handheld sprayer or support her as you lean her head back into the water -- like at the salon. There are also bath visors (sold at baby stores) to keep the water off your child's face. And you might introduce regular water play in to your daughter's routine so that she can associate bathtime with fun, positive experiences.
For hair brushing, try wide-tooth combs and lots of detangling solution or conditioner to make combing a bit easier. Distract her with a favorite snack or an interesting toy to play with. You can also give her a brush she can hold onto or use to comb a doll's hair or a stuffed animal's fur.
If all else fails, decide whether combing her tresses is an absolute necessity or if you can let grooming go for now. For children with fine, silky hair, it won't matter much, while kids with coarse, thick locks that tangle easily will need more attention. As your daughter gets bigger and can help out with this task -- feeling more in control of what happens to her body -- she will likely be less resistant.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, October 2006.Updated 2009