A step-by-step guide to cutting baby hair

Thinking about cutting your baby’s hair yourself? You can totally do it! I know this because I actually cut my own 2-year-old son’s hair in the process of writing this article. (This is just how dedicated I am to helping mums perfect the art of the baby haircut.) My hairdressing skills are minimal, and I’ve gotta say I did alright. If I can do it, you definitely can. 

So what do you need to know before you conduct a baby haircut at home? Let’s dive in.

When to cut baby’s hair

If this is your first time, you’re probably wondering “when should I cut my baby’s hair?”. Like, at what age?

Let me dispel a couple of common baby haircut myths straight up:

  • Does cutting a baby’s hair make it grow thicker/faster? – Nope. Baby hair won’t necessarily grow back thicker or faster when you cut it. Hair thickness is a genetic thing, mama.

  • Can you cut a baby’s hair before 1? – It’s not bad for you to cut your baby’s hair before the age of one. But it’s also not usually necessary.

When you do choose to cut your baby’s hair for the first time, it generally happens according to your preference. That said, it may be best to hold off during the newborn phase and wait until your baby can sit up in a high chair and support their head properly (often after 6 months). Usually around the time they start eating solids.

What you need for a baby haircut 

  • Scissors or clippers – You can buy specific scissors for baby haircuts, but I just used our kitchen scissors, and that was honestly fine.

  • A spray bottle – Use this to dampen sections of hair. (Alternatively, you could cut your baby’s hair in the bath and splash water on their hair directly.)

  • A comb – Or a hairbrush if you’re contending with particularly aggressive knots.

  • A towel or cape to catch the clippings (optional) – Give it a try! I personally couldn’t get my son to wear one.

  • A high chair or stool – Make sure your baby or toddler has somewhere comfortable and sturdy to sit.

  • Distractions – An iPad, snacks, the TV, or a person to pull funny faces at your baby while you work. (I utilised a bag of crackers, an icy pole, and my husband’s brilliant toddler conversation skills.)

How to cut baby hair

If you’re looking for a practical guide on how to cut your baby’s hair, you’ll find everything you need to know below. You’re welcome! And good luck to you.

Your step-by-step guide to cutting baby hair

Step 1: Take your ‘before’ photo

This is important, because without it you won’t be able to see what improvements (or disasters) you’ve made. Either way, you’re creating memories, right?

Step 2: Prep your space (feat. baby distractions)

Babies and toddlers aren’t known for their excellent attention spans. Get set up well in advance of seating them to maximise use of their time in the chair. Have your baby haircut tools and distractions close to hand.

Step 3: Wet and comb a section of hair

Use your spray bottle to dampen a small section of hair. We’re not looking for sopping wet hair here – just some dampness to make it easier to comb straight.

As you can see, Ivah’s hair is pretty thin and wispy. If your baby has curly/coily hair or extra thick hair, it may help to separate sections with an elastic or clip so you can focus on the piece at hand.

Step 4: Position your fingers between scissors and head, and snip at an angle

Placing your fingers between the head and the scissors means there’s less chance of taking off too much hair, as well as less chance of jabbing your kid in the head with scissors. It’s also a good way to keep the hair length even all over. (There’s nothing worse than a patchy, uneven cut!)

By snipping at an angle, rather than horizontally, you’ll avoid making a noticeable line in the hair. This is where 90s mums went wrong with their bowl cut technique.

Continue snipping around the head in sections like this. Be careful, but try to be speedy too (as per previous comment about attention spans).

Step 5: Navigate the ears

Ears can be tricky – I’m not gonna lie. Angle your fingers accordingly when it comes to this section, and go carefully to avoid accidentally nicking a lobe.

Step 6: Neaten the top and front

You may not need to do much with the top and front of the hair at all. Hair cutting for baby boys can be trickier if you want to get a close cut, and using clippers might be simpler if that’s the case. I just snipped Ivah’s fringe section a little to keep it out of his eyes.

Step 8: Admire your handy work

If your baby has sat still long enough for you to get this far, this is a miracle in itself. Take a step back, put the scissors DOWN (resist the urge to keep ‘fixing bits’ for eternity) and tell your child how damn amazing they look.

(Now I may be biased, but is this model not the handsomest boy you ever did see?)

Bonus tips and tricks for cutting baby hair

If you’re using clippers instead of scissors…

Start with a longer guard first. You can always go over the cut with a shorter one if you want. You might choose to use a longer guard on top and a shorter guard around the sides for the classic short-back-and-sides baby haircut.

Take note: Some babies won’t let you anywhere near their head with that noisy contraption! It can help to introduce them to it before you go in for the first haircut.

Hair cutting tips for baby girls

Typically girls’ hair is kept longer than boys’ – although… pfft! Gender norms are changing. Scissors are often easier to use for long hair styles, and it might just involve snipping the ends at an angle. You can still use the same technique as above by dampening the hair and cutting in sections.

Don’t attempt a fringe unless you’re super confident!

But how to cut curly baby hair?

You can use the same technique here, but may need to get the hair more wet to comb it out straight for an even cut. If your baby or toddler has coarse, coily hair, you might need to use your middle and forefinger to gently stretch and snip at the hair.

Can a professional do it?

For sure. If you’re worried about stuffing it up (or if your attempt DOES go awry and you need a quick fix), you can take your child to a hairdresser for a cut. Some special kids’ salons even have novelty chairs to sit on, and the staff are great at working with babies and kids.

One final note

While following my little tutorial here and searching for YouTube videos can be helpful, nothing will teach you the art of cutting baby hair more than the trial and error approach.

If you’re freaking out about it, just remember that a bad haircut is a rite of passage for any child. And giving said bad haircut is your rite of passage as a mum. Then again, maybe you’ll surprise yourself, as I did. 

Good luck mama!

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

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