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Baby’s first haircut: Everything you need to know to get through this milestone without tears

How to handle your baby's first haircut so no one ends up crying

Your little one’s first year of life is filled with nothing but precious milestones. First laugh. First little scoot. First steps. For most parents, that first haircut really hits you in the gut. The notion of cutting your child’s hair for the first time can bring a parent (and baby) to tears.

Whether you plan to pick up the scissors yourself or take your infant to a pro, baby’s first haircut can be an emotional time for both parent and child. Before you go DIY or make that first salon appointment, check out everything you need to know before your baby’s first haircut.

A baby getting their hair cut.

When is the right time for baby’s first haircut?

While you might head to the salon like clockwork yourself, knowing when to manage your child’s first haircut experience is a little different. First order of business is how much hair your baby has. Some babies are bald for months (or even years) after birth, while others come out of the womb with a full, enviable 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 turns one.

We 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 and harmless part of babyhood) a pediatrician could tell you if you should go ahead with a cut or wait until it dampers down.

An infant receiving a haircut.

You do have options for a baby’s first haircut

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 normal salon (call ahead to see if they have a qualified child stylist on staff)
  • Take them to a designated children’s salon

All of 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. On the other hand, some parents may not trust their own scissor 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.

A child getting a haircut in a salon chair.

Preparation is everything

Timing is key to a successful anything 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 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 the professionals. They know how to efficiently 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. 

A baby getting a haircut in a salon.
Maria Sbytova/ Shutterstock

Cutting your baby’s hair at home isn’t as hard as you think

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.  

You might not get through the first attempt — and that’s okay

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 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 baby will get through the first haircut with dry eyes. Well, at least your baby will.

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