Toddler behaviour

7 tips for surviving your toddler's first haircut

You never know what you'll expect when your toddler gets their first haircut. Here are some ways you can prepare.

By Teresa Pitman
Photo: iStockphoto Photo: iStockphoto

Maybe your baby was born with a thick head of hair. Maybe he was as “bald as a billiard ball.” Either way, sometime during the toddler years most little ones need a haircut, even if it’s just to keep the hair out of their eyes. It’s a landmark moment for new parents.

The average toddler, however, is unlikely to be as enthusiastic.

“Toddlerhood is definitely the most difficult age for cutting hair,” says Hilary Trant, a hairstylist with the Markham, Ont., branch of Melonhead Children’s Hair Care, a chain of salons geared to children. She’s been cutting kids’ hair for five years, and has plenty of tricks up her sleeve for dealing with her littlest customers:

1. Bring a change of clothes. Your toddler may refuse to wear the cape, or may wiggle around and get hair into his clothes — having hair down his back is going to make him cranky for the rest of the day.

2. Don’t use force. Trying to restrict your child’s movement is likely to lead to even more squirming.

3. If your child uses a pacifier, bring it. A familiar toy that will keep her hands occupied while her hair is being cut may help. “Those little linking rings and toys that make noises when shaken are good choices,” Trant says.


4. Bring snacks. This will keep your child’s hands busy — but don’t bring anything sticky (like a lollipop).

5. Bring along a container of bubble-blowing liquid. Use it to blow bubbles near your child’s face as the stylist works. Check with the stylist first, though.

6. Take breaks.  Be prepared to take a break halfway through, or even a couple of breaks.

7. Bring extra people if you can. An entertaining older sibling may be just the thing to keep your toddler happy — or maybe Mommy can make funny faces or Grandpa can provide some live entertainment with his rendition of “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

“It helps to have a stylist who is used to working with children and who is fast. I’m usually done in five or 10 minutes, which is all most toddlers can handle,” says Trant. For toddlers who can’t sit still even for five minutes, Trant says, “I trim it bit by bit. It’s all about being patient.”


Should you go to a specialty hair salon for kids? They can be more expensive, but they do have a couple of advantages. First, the surroundings are set up for children: chairs with kid appeal, designed to look like planes or cars; videos on the TV; toys handy while you’re waiting. Secondly, you know the stylists can handle the challenges of baby-fine hair and restless clients. On the other hand, at a family haircutter’s, your toddler can see Daddy get his hair done first, which might make her more co-operative when it’s her turn in the chair.

What about doing that first cut yourself? A lot depends on your skill level and what you want to do. A quick trim of the bangs isn’t too hard, but taming curly or longer hair may be best left to the pros.

Regardless of who does the first cut, don’t forget to snag a few strands for your child’s baby book.

Saving those baby curls Generations ago, the hair from that first haircut was often stored in a locket. Now parents usually keep it in an envelope. Scrapbooking suppliers provide a selection of cute options that can be glued into a scrapbook page along with some before and after photos.

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