How to cut your baby’s hair for the first time

Your baby or toddler’s very first haircut can be seriously nerve-wracking. If only they included a ‘how to cut baby hair’ section on that parenting instruction sheet they send you home from hospital with after you give birth. (Oh wait, there are no instructions about anything at all, ever.)

As with most things in parenthood, learning how to cut your baby’s hair (and when to) is really something you need to feel out. When it comes to your first time, you might hit up your local hairdresser to get the deed done, explore DIY YouTube videos, or get advice from friends and family members. Just please steer clear of 90s mums with their bowl-cut fetishes. (My brother still hasn’t recovered from his trauma.) 

Before you delve into the world of how to cut baby hair, here are some handy questions to ask yourself.

Does your baby or toddler actually NEED a haircut?

I’m only saying that because there’s no need to do it just because your mother-in-law is complaining, or boys aren’t meant to have long hair according to society. (My neighbour says, “I pay hundreds of dollars for long blonde hair like my son’s – I’m not cutting his off!”)

Some legit reasons your kid might need a cut:

  • Their hair is getting in their eyes or in the way.

  • Their hair is often knotty and tangled – tricky AF to maintain.

  • Their hair is growing out weirdly (hello, mullet) or is constantly a shambles, and you just don’t like how it looks.

It’s generally best to leave the first haircut till after your baby is six months old, as newborn skin is so delicate. Also, you’ve probably got other priorities when caring for a newborn, #amiright?

Are you ready?

Now. Check that you’re emotionally ready for this. Your baby’s first haircut, like any ‘first’ – bath, smile, steps – can be a tear-filled event for a mama. Especially if, er, it doesn’t end up meeting the brief.

Are you game to try it yourself?

If you’re anything like me, you’re wildly overconfident in your hairdressing abilities. (My husband’s lockdown haircut is a testament to my lack of skills.) If you’re worried about messing it up, it may be best to go to a salon. 

On the flip side, you might know that your baby or toddler will freak out at a stranger brandishing scissors near their head (understandable). So learning how to cut baby hair at home may be your best option.

Are you going to be a creepy mum who keeps a lock of your baby’s hair?

I am! And I have no regrets. That sweet little white-blonde curl is stored forever in a special keepsake book for me to peek at (and stroke) whenever I feel the need.

Think about keeping a lock to mark this momentous occasion.

Now, let’s get into tips and tricks for surviving your baby’s first haircut – whether it’s at home or at a salon.

Tips for the DIY approach: How to cut baby hair at home

1. Get the right tools

You can buy very fancy baby hair scissors and tools online (check out Ligicky Baby Hair Cutting Scissors Set), which tend to have blunter blades and a safer design for those wriggly hairdressing clients. But you can use any sort of scissors to cut baby hair, really. 

Your other option is to use clippers. There are baby clippers available that are safe and importantly, QUIET, to help keep kids calm (take a look at Elebebe Baby Hair Clippers).

Other tools that’ll come in handy include:

  • A spray bottle to dampen the hair.
  • A comb.
  • A towel to catch the clippings.
  • A secure high chair or booster seat.
  • Toys, books, TV, food, or other modes of distraction.

2. Time it right

This feels obvious but needs to be said—don’t go snipping when your toddler is on the brink of a tantrum. Mornings are generally a better time to cut a baby’s hair, because they’ll be rested, full from their morning feed, and happier in general.

Also of note: Some mums swear by the sneaky trim-during-naptime technique!

3. Get your baby or toddler set up

The benefit of an at-home baby haircut is that you can set your kid up in a familiar environment so they’re relaxed and less likely to scream the house down. Select a spot where they can happily sit still for a period of time. Parking them in front of the TV is a sure bet, although playing music can be a nice touch instead.

4. Start small

My mum gave me some of the best advice you can get when it comes to how to cut baby hair at home: “little bits”.

For the first haircut, maybe don’t even expect to make a noticeable difference at all. Get your baby used to the sound of the scissors or clippers, and get yourself used to how their hair moves. 

What you DON’T want to do is go in for a massive chunk straight off the bat. Obviously, there’s a lot that could go wrong with that approach.

5. Make it fun!

Praise your baby or toddler for sitting still, and make sure you tell them how GREAT they look! With a toddler, you could even set up an in-home ‘salon’, have them ‘pay you’ for their treatment, and make a fun game out of it.

Important question: Is there a difference in how to cut baby boy hair at home vs. how to cut baby girl hair at home?

Not really, no. Boys and girls both require comforting, distraction, and encouragement. Typically girls’ hair is kept longer, so scissors may be easier to use to trim the ends. It’s not too hard to learn how to cut baby boy hair at home with scissors, but clippers may be a simpler option for your first try if you’re going short. 

Tips for outsourcing it: How to get a baby haircut at a salon

1. Have a practice run

When it comes to how to cut baby hair at a salon, a great place to start is to take them along to your next appointment. You can show them the hairdressing tools, get them used to the environment and noises, and build it up as an exciting experience.

(Tip: This works with the dentist too.)

2. Search for kid-friendly hairdressers

Some salons are specifically set up for children, or have a special section for kids’ haircuts separate from the adults’ area. Kids can sit in super cute cars or aeroplane seats and feel special AF while the hairdresser gets busy.

Some great kid-friendly salons in the Sydney area include:

In saying that, some parents find that their babies or toddlers handle it better sitting on their lap for the haircut anyway. Suss it out.

3. Give clear instructions

The only thing worse than ruining your own child’s first haircut is someone else ruining it – and then needing to pay for it. Bring pictures for inspo, and be very clear on what you want the hairdresser to do to avoid disappointment. 

4. Have entertainment and tools (bribery) on hand

Bring toys, snacks and distractions along to help your little one sit still for the duration of their haircut. A busy board might entertain them for long enough! Asking them lots of questions can help them sit still for longer too.

Read next: 9 of the best busy boards for toddlers

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