If you have a little one and haven’t yet experienced the thrill (or terror) of your baby’s first haircut, don’t worry. We’ve compiled some tips to help you survive the whole process, hopefully minimizing tears shed from all parties involved. (Yes, mom, that includes you.) So if you think you might be nearing that momentous occasion, read on to help ease the stress of this milestone.
There’s no specific age recommended for a first haircut, it can be anywhere between 6 months and 2 years on average. Some babies are born with lots of hair and may be ready sooner than others, and some parents choose to prolong the first haircut well into toddlerhood. Whatever the situation, let’s address the first step of the first haircut journey.
Deciding if you (and your baby) are ready
It happens. They are growing so fast. You are documenting all the ‘firsts’ and milestones – first foods, sitting up, crawling, babbling, first words - all the exciting memories that you want to freeze in time and look back on in the future. With all of that to keep up with, you may have overlooked (whether purposefully or not) the need for your baby’s first haircut.
Here are some signs that it may be time for the first haircut:
- Hair in your baby’s eyes. If your baby seems bothered by the hair overgrowth and tries to push it aside, or if you’ve forgotten the color of their eyes due to long locks, it’s probably time. Don’t let your baby reach ‘Cousin Itt’ status.
- You’re having trouble maintaining it. Is it taking you longer to detangle, comb and style your child’s hair than it does for you to get yourself ready in the morning? Or does your kiddo look at this process as torture?
- Uneven growth. Sometimes different areas of the head grow hair faster than others. When this happens, you can either embrace the mullet or keep it under control with the help of a stylist.
- Perpetual bed-head. When hair gets too long and straggly (especially fine, wispy, baby hair), there’s not much you can do to fix it aside from evening out the length with a trim. If your child has grown ‘wings’ on their head or looks like they’re wearing a bad 80s wig, a haircut might be the right solution.
Preparing for the salon
Once you’ve decided it’s the right time, there are a few things you can do to prepare your child for the first haircut. Depending on your baby’s age, you may be able to incorporate some (or all) of these helpful tips:
- Practice the routine at home. Incorporate a haircut into regular playtime, complete with a cape, water spritz, safety scissors (or imaginary) and a special chair. Familiarizing your child with these steps of the process will ease the stress of the actual experience.
- Timing is everything. Make sure you schedule the haircut when your child is most likely to be happy and playful, not hungry or tired. While you can’t predict their moods with complete accuracy, avoiding the ‘difficult’ times of day will help avoid meltdowns.
- Seeing is believing. Arrive at the salon a little early so your child can see other people getting haircuts, or let them watch you get yours done. Seeing other people in the same situation will help reassure your baby that people do survive the stylist chair.
- Bring reinforcements. Plan to bring snacks, a favorite toy, pacifier, mobile device or even another family member to keep your child calm and occupied during the haircut. This will help keep them still for the stylist and give you an opportunity to capture memorable photos.
- To keep or not to keep? Decide ahead of time if you’re going to want to keep a lock of your child’s hair from the first cut. Whether you choose to dedicate a scrapbook page to it, save it in an envelope or just say ‘bye-bye’ to the extra hair, you have to give it some thought.
During the haircut
You’ve prepared as best as you can, now the big day is here. Keep your cool and remember these tips leading up to and during your salon visit:
- Relax and be positive. Your child will most likely pick up on your attitude and vibes regarding the impending haircut. Stressing out or being overly emotional will only make things worse. Take a deep breath, remember it’s an exciting milestone and you should enjoy sharing this experience with your child. Also remember that they may need help relaxing – offer to hold your baby’s hand, give them a stuffed animal, sucker or anything else that may put them more at ease.
- Make it a game. If your little one isn’t sharing your positive vibes, turn the experience into a game, seeing how long they can sit still. For younger kids, distract them with funny faces or an interesting toy.
- Be realistic. If your kiddo is pretty energetic and hardly sits still, you may want to opt for a cut and style that is easy to maintain. Your stylist will be able to recommend some low-maintenance options.
Now that everyone has survived the first haircut experience, future cuts will be a little less daunting and hopefully something to look forward to. Remember these points to keep the momentum going until next time:
- Make it a ritual. Do something fun or unique after your salon visit, like going to get ice cream, playing at the park or another activity your little one enjoys.
- Compliment! Tell your child “great job” for making their first haircut experience a great one. Look in the mirror with them and tell them how fantastic their new haircut looks. Associate positive feedback with the overall experience, even if there may have been bumps along the way. If you have a younger kiddo and compliments aren’t as easily understood, extra hugs can’t hurt!
Your baby’s first haircut is an important milestone that can be exciting and stressful at the same time. With these tips, you’ll be a bit more prepared and a little less stressed for the occasion. And the next thing you know, they’ll be asking for the car keys…
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