Cultivating dreadlocks is a long process that takes hair through many stages of change. According to natural hair guru Patricia Gaines, hair goes through five stages during the locking process: starter locs, baby locs, teenaged locs, mature locs and rooted locs. During the baby loc stage, hair is starting to go through a process called budding. Budding is when the hair in dreadlocks begins to mat and swell. Those who are new to dreadlocks may see budding as a problem that needs to be fixed, but it is a natural and necessary part of the locking process.

Check your hair in the mirror regularly for frizz, swelling, dullness or knotting. These are the tell-tale signs of budding. Ideally, this should be done when the hair is completely dry.

Feel your twists with your fingers. If there is a hard lump in the middle of the twist, it may be starting to lock. Be careful not to manipulate the hair so much that it disturbs the locking process.

Get a second opinion. Consult your loctician about the progress of your hair. She will be familiar enough with your hair to let you know if your locs are properly budding.