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How to achieve a successful first haircut on a child

Updated on February 17, 2011
When you prepare for a child's haircut, the experience can go smoothly.
When you prepare for a child's haircut, the experience can go smoothly.

Celebrating Milestones

Getting a child’s first haircut can be an emotional step for parents. It is a marker when a young baby becomes a toddler. To make matters worse, the first haircut can be a horrible, for both the child and the parent, making both parties wish it was also the last. Unfortunate for the parents, hair never stops growing, so unless you are satisfied with your child have long unruly hair (or possibly a mullet), haircuts will eventually become a part of your natural routine.

Reaching your child’s first haircut is a big milestone. With a few tips, it can be successful experience with very little tears. Although, plenty of parents have cried once they realize there young baby is stepping into the world of toddlerhood.

To make your child’s first haircut a good memory instead of a horrifying memory, a little bit of planning is a must. Parents who go out and just do it, often have a horrible experience with their child’s first haircut, and they usually blame it on the location or the stylist. While planning won’t guarantee a happy outcome, it will definitely help to keep frustrations down to a minimum.

Boys and girls are two very different creatures. This is true when it comes to haircuts as well, but only in the eyes of the parents. Parents will often consider haircuts more important for little boys then they will for little girls. The reason: Society pictures girls with longer hair and boys with short hair. Often parents will wait much longer before getting their daughter’s first haircut when compared to their son’s first haircut.

The longer you wait to get your child a haircut, the more likely you are to run into issues. The less frequently you get your child’s haircut, the more likely you are to also run into issues. Therefore, I am a firm believer parents should get their child’s haircut earlier than later. Obviously this doesn’t apply if you have a child whose hair doesn’t grow. I know my children were all born bald, and my little girls had a really hard time growing enough hair to even qualify for a haircut before they were 3 years old.

Places specializing in children's haircuts will often use special chairs for the children to sit in.
Places specializing in children's haircuts will often use special chairs for the children to sit in. | Source

Step 1: Research

Doing research before your child’s first haircut is important. For some of you, this will be an easy step, especially if you already have a regular stylist that cuts your own hair. If you trust that stylist to do your hair, this is probably the best bet for your child. After all, you are already familiar with the person. If you are comfortable with the stylist, chances are higher your child will be more comfortable too.

In today’s society, it seems children’s haircut boutiques are popping up everywhere. These places are specifically made for children. Some of them include a fancy airplane or car for the child to sit in while they watch cartoons on TV. This will easily distract the child while the stylist cuts the child’s hair. These stylists are children friendly, considering they specialize in children’s haircuts. This is a good option for a child friendly place, but they can also be very pricey because of their specialization.

Looking around town, there are numerous places you can choose, from the franchise shops like Cost Cutters, MasterCuts or even Fantastic Sams, to those locally owned hair salons and barbershops. Now after carefully evaluating the local hair stylists and shops, you should be confident about choosing a place suitable for your child.

When making a decision, there are several factors you must include. The first is the personality of the stylists. While all stylists are trained to cut hair, some may not be able to handle children as well as others. The best way to find this out is by trying the stylist out on yourself and by using good old observation skills.

The other factor you should consider is the type of salon. The higher priced salon may not have the ability to pull off a great child’s haircut. Typically, the higher class the salon is, the less likely they are to do a lot of children’s haircuts. Therefore, if the stylist doesn’t frequently do children’s haircuts, this experience can be frustrating for not only the child, but the parent and stylist as well. Not to mention, practice makes perfect and if you are looking for a good children’s haircut, you want someone who frequently does children’s haircuts.

The final factor should be the price. Parents believe small heads should mean smaller prices, and while they do often get a discount, children’s haircuts will often depend on the shop prices. Some shops don’t differentiate; a haircut is a haircut. Therefore, when deciding on your child’s haircut, prices will be a big factor depending on what you can afford.

Step 2: Prep for the Haircut

This is the part most parents don’t think about. Usually, when it comes time to get the child’s first haircut, they just go into a shop and get it done. Yet, I find that with a little pre-haircut prepping, this will make your child more comfortable.

The best way to prepare a child for a haircut is to let a child witness a haircut. For women, going to the salon is usually considered time away. This is an experience and can be pampering. While most woman choose to go by themselves, bringing your young daughter to witness will allow them to see the experience and will give them interest in getting their own haircut.

Men on the other hand, usually visit their hairstylists more often. Bringing your young son will get him used to the sound of the clippers. Often times, young boys are scared of the clippers because of the noise. If they are around the noise before they get their first haircut, this will most likely not scare them as much.

Step 3: Knowing what you want

To ensure a successful first haircut, having an idea of what you want is a good start. If this is your first child’s haircut, you may not really know. Therefore, talking to your stylist beforehand might be a good idea. They can help you come to a decision before your child is sitting in the stylist chair. While having some consultation while at the chair is unavoidable, knowing what direction you are going for beforehand is still helpful. Children are usually impatient, especially in a new situation. The longer you chat with the stylist, the less time the stylist will have to cut the child’s hair before the child starts becoming a wiggle worm.

Children’s hair is often very fine and light when it starts growing in. If this is the first haircut for a little girl, you may not really need much of a haircut. The first haircut will be a good introduction for them, but may not be a major change. The idea behind a little girl’s first haircut will be to even off the ends. This will make the hair look fuller. The stylist will help you decide how much is needed to be taken off.

For boys, a trip to the local barbershop can be a completely different experience. From experience, boys haircuts are often a fight between the parents. The mom is usually fighting for longer hair, while the dad wants it short. There is also another decision that needs to be made. The parents must choose to do either a scissor cut or a clipper cut.

Most parents shy away from the clipper cut because they often picture a buzz cut that they can do at home. This is not always the case. While the parents may choose to have the stylist put a guard on and zip all the hair off, they also have an option of using a guard on the sides and blending it into the top, which is trimmed with a scissors.

Choosing between a scissor cut and a clipper cut can be difficult. The advantages of using a scissors on a young child is there is less noise. The noise of the clippers can sometimes scare a child, but don’t think a good pair of pointy shears won’t do the same. The disadvantage of using a scissors is the haircut can take much longer on a wiggly child, and the chances of the child getting cut is a lot higher. The advantages of using a clipper is the quicker pace and the cleaner cut. The disadvantage is definitely the noise, but if you have been taking your son with while you get a clipper cut, chances are good he will already be used to the noise. For an ideal little boy’s haircut, a number 4 clipper guard with scissor on top is the perfect combination.

Step 4: Getting the Haircut

Now the time has come. You have fully prepared yourself and your child for one of the bigger milestones in young life. You should feel confident that you have done everything possible to make the first haircut, and future haircuts as successful as possible.

Now that you have decided it is time to go, make sure you call and set up an appointment. Going to a salon as a walk-in with your child is risky. If you walk-in, you may not have a choice on which stylist you want, and you may end up sitting for a long period of time before a stylist is available.

When scheduling an appointment, avoid times when you know the child will be needing a nap or be ready to eat. You know your child best, and can determine when cranky times are. If your child is usually in a happy mood upon waking up in the morning, schedule a morning haircut. If they are best after their afternoon nap, squeeze in the appointment in the afternoon.

While at the salon, remember to stay out of the stylists way, unless they ask for help to hold your child still. When cutting a child’s hair, the stylist will have to be quick on their feet. Even if a child holds still, the child will still be interested in the tools being used.

You may also be interested in bringing a small snack or a small stuffed animal for you child to hold. This will also be a good distraction and keep them happy. Just remember, if the child has it in their hands while at the chair, there is a good chance the item will also end up being full of hair as well.

Final Thoughts

Since each child is different, there will never be a guarantee of a successful haircut each time you visit the salon. With this in mind, remember if you make the appointment and the child is not behaving enough to finish the haircut, stop the haircut and continue after the child is settled down. This may mean you have to reschedule. A good stylist will understand and should not charge you for an incomplete haircut.

The key to the first haircut is to make it an enjoyable experience. Once a child is afraid of getting their haircut, reversing these feelings can be very difficult and will make for a bad experience each time you go. Having a good stylist that is not only skilled at cutting children’s hair, but also at playing with the child while in the chair, should make for a smooth experience.

So, now that you have taken the final step and gotten your kid in the chair, it is important to stay positive about the entire experience. If the child senses your stress about the first haircut, they may also become stressed. So stay happy and encourage your child to have a good time. Hopefully, this will result in a good haircut.

Now go off and enjoy one of those big milestones in your child’s life. Happy Haircutting!


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    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      @Tabiee - Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Tabiee profile image

      Tabiee 6 years ago from Pakistan


    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Thanks - I am glad you enjoyed it. I wish had this advice when my first daughter got her first haircut. Boy was that a miserable experience.

    • FeliciaM profile image

      FeliciaM 6 years ago from Canada

      Great hub. Boy, I could have used this for my boys first haircuts. that was a long time ago though. Thanks for sharing this.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Thanks - I think it is pretty important for parents to be prepared... although I think the child's first haircut is sometimes harder on the parents than the child!

    • profile image

      PenMePretty 6 years ago from Franklin

      Well written!!

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 6 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Thank you... I have always been really good with kid's haircuts as well. I actually enjoy kid's haircuts. The inspiration behind this hub was actually because I noticed that my son who is only 16 months old, does an awesome job with his haircut. I think it has to do with how often he sees his dad get his haircut.

    • profile image

      Fiddleman 6 years ago

      Great hub. My son is a barber and has had good success with children. That first haircut can be scary and he never rushes and always tries to gain their confidence giving them assurance it won't hurt.