The first year of your child’s life is filled with exciting, milestone moments, from their first smile to crawling for the first time to taking their first steps. For most parents, that first haircut is another milestone that can be just as exciting and a bit emotional, too. The notion of cutting your baby’s hair for the first time can bring both parents and baby to tears.
Whether you choose to trim your baby’s hair yourself or take them to a trusted professional, a baby’s first haircut can be an emotional time for everyone. If your little one is ready for their first haircut, we’ve got some tricks and tips to help make the experience enjoyable for everyone involved.
While you might have a standing appointment at the hair salon for yourself, knowing when to manage your child’s first haircut experience is a little different. When your baby will need their first haircut will often depend on how much hair they’re born with. Some babies are bald for months (or even years) after birth, while others come out of the womb with a full head of hair.
A baby’s first haircut timeline can also depend on your family’s cultural background. Some cultures cut an infant’s hair sooner, and some don’t do a haircut until the child’s first birthday.
Experts suggest you wait to cut your baby’s hair until they’re able to hold their head up on their own, so at least 6 months old. You may also want to ask your child’s pediatrician before moving ahead with your tot’s first cut. If your child has cradle cap (a dandruff-like condition and harmless part of babyhood) a pediatrician could tell you if you should go ahead with a cut or wait until it dampers down.
When it comes to picking how your baby experiences their first haircut, you have options. You can choose to:
- Cut your baby’s hair yourself.
- Take them to a typical salon (call ahead to see if they have a qualified child stylist on staff).
- Take them to a designated children’s salon.
All these options have their own pros and cons. For the first, you get to enjoy the experience in the privacy of your own home. It’s often more convenient and less likely that your child will have a complete meltdown if they’re in a familiar setting. On the other hand, some parents may not trust their own scissors skills around such delicate skin.
When taking a child to a salon (whether a normal or designated children’s salon) you have the assurance of a pro who knows what they’re doing, but it can be stressful, depending on your child’s temperament and your own comfort level.
You can help set yourself up for a successful day with a bit of planning and preparation.
Timing is key with a baby
For the haircut, make sure you time it correctly. You don’t want them to be tired, cranky, or hungry. Consider your child’s normal schedule and go to the salon or start the home haircut when you know they’ll be in the best mood possible.
Distractions are your friends
Keep your child still, content, and not screaming. Rely on favorite toys, electronics, and security items. If at a salon, some infants will be distracted by the mirror in front of them, but some find the mirror frightening as they watch an adult hovering over them and cutting their hair.
You might want to leave the haircut to the pros
Sure, you could DIY your baby’s first trim. But a word to the wise, the bowl cut is strongly discouraged. While there are certain hair care routines you should know, you may want to save this job for professionals. They know how to work shears around a small child’s face.
Go to someone who specifically works with children
What’s more, your usual go-to stylist might do a bang-up job cutting your bangs, but they might not have the patience or skill set to accommodate a toddler in a mid-snip meltdown. Child-specific haircut destinations have young kids in mind. They may feature fun “ride-on” salon chairs, boast television sets at each station, or have toys for your wee one to enjoy during their appointment.
Pack a bag of familiar comforts
If you do go to a salon, be sure to pack the usual helpers to keep your child content. If your baby takes a binky, keep it on hand during this new and potentially uncomfortable situation. And always, always bring snacks.
Have an extra onesie or top handy in case your baby doesn’t want to wear the salon-provided robe or cape. (Yes, lots of littles freak over the capes.) At the end of the haircut, you can swap out your babe’s shirt so that they don’t have hair down their back.
No matter how prepared you are, sometimes your baby simply won’t enjoy getting their hair cut. It’s understandable when you consider the fact that when getting a first haircut, your baby is often in an unfamiliar environment, surrounded by loud noises and unfamiliar people. No matter how prepared you are and how many toys or distractions you bring, that’s not always enough to comfort your little one.
If your baby has a meltdown during their first haircut, don’t panic. If you’re not able to distract your little one and calm them down, sometimes it’s best to cut the appointment short and try again another time. You don’t want to make getting a haircut a traumatic experience for your baby, so sometimes it’s best to try again on a different day.
If you decide to go the at-home route for the first haircut, it’s not so difficult. All you need are blunt scissors and the tiniest bit of skill (and by tiniest, we mean the ability to get the ends sort of straight). Follow every preparation tip we gave for a salon cut for your home haircut. Your first attempt might not go as planned – and that’s totally fine. There’s no need to worry about it. Watching them sit in the chair as the barber looks to see if you are ready for that first snip will bring out a sea of emotions you may not be ready for. If your infant screamed the entire time that the stylist was in their vicinity, home cuts might be in your future, anyway.
However you end up cutting your baby’s hair, and no matter the result, enjoy this important milestone in your child’s life. It’s one of many that you have to look forward to as a parent! Not all firsts have to end in tears, and with our tips, you and your baby will get through the first haircut with dry eyes. Well, at least your baby will.
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