Toddler haircuts: At home or at the salon

toddler having hair cut

by Emily Thorpe |

At one point or another, you'll come to the realisation that your child could use a haircut. From here, you have two options: brave the hairdressers or attempt to do the deed yourself.

When should my baby have their first haircut?

There’s never really a ‘right time’ to go for the first trim, it really depends on you and your little one, how much hair they have, or what style you are aiming for long term. If your baby has thick, luscious locks from birth, your baby could be ready for a haircut as early as eight months old! But for little ones with baldy-baby hair, the first haircut may not be needed until they are two years old.

Cutting your toddler's hair at home

If the idea of a screaming child wriggling out of the salon chair and narrowly avoiding having their ear snipped off haunts you then you might not be looking forward to undertaking this momentous task of cutting your child's hair yourself. But the good news is that cutting your toddler's hair at home can actually be a whole lot less hassle than going to the hairdressers.

And since you're not going to be sending your little one down any runways anytime soon, there's no pressure to pull off the most fashionable look, either. Ease is the name of the game with these top tips for cutting your toddler's hair at home - and most of the time it will be your toddler, since it's only babies with lustrous locks that will need a trim before the two-year mark.

The kit

Use a small pair of clean household scissors if you don’t have hairdressing scissors. "Hold sections of hair between your fingers – this forms a barrier between the blades and your baby’s head," says Lisa Lemon, senior stylist at children’s hairdressers' Trotters in Chelsea. To keep itchy hair at bay, place a towel around their neck. Do the cut after a bath, or use a water spray. Let them play with the spray first, so it doesn’t seem scary.

The seat

If your child’s under two, the highchair is a great place for a home cut, positioned in front of CBeebies. Equip them with a snack and a couple of toys. Before you start, make sure they're not hungry or tired. And remember to explain what you’re going to do and how great it’s going to look.

The method

Start by trimming around the ears, which is the most difficult bit, as your baby will be less fidgety at the beginning. "Then do the fringe and around the nape. Offer them a book, as it’s easier to cut the back if they're looking down," says Lisa. When it’s done, give them praise and a small treat, so they’ll look forward to their next trim.

Cutting boys' hair

Follow these basic steps to an easy boy's haircut.

Cutting girls' hair

With long hair, we recommend starting with a basic trim along the length of the hair, and if you're feeling brave, cut in some layers after you've got the main body of the hair at the length you want it.

Part the hair into wide sections using a tail comb, and check the lengths are even by gently pulling the hair away from the head with your hands.

Cutting African American hair

We love how emotional this mum gets when cutting her tot's hair for the first time! She also includes some helpful guidance and advice when it comes to cutting African American hair.

Cutting a fringe

Follow the simple tutorial below for cutting a fringe. You may not want to attempt this if it's your first go though!

Cutting curly hair

Anyone whose child has been blessed with naturally curly hair will know the trauma of washing and brushing it bi-weekly. But that's no excuse to put off regular haircuts. Curly hair needs trimming just as regularly as straighter hair - in fact, because the ends are prone to drying out because of tangles, it actually needs trimming MORE. Keep on top of your toddler's curly hair by trimming it little and often. And instead of brushing it, keep it in top tip condition with a wide-tooth comb.

Taking your toddler to the hairdressers

If you don't feel comfortable cutting your child's hair yourself (and we don't blame you!), a professional hairdressing salon may seem like a more appealing option.

Preparation is key! While you may find going to the hairdresser a wonderful and relaxing experience, your little one won’t see it like that at all, so prep all you can. Being in a strange room, with a stranger coming at them with a pair of scissors will only end in tears if there’s been no preparation, so start introducing the idea of what getting a haircut is all about before they go to the salon.

Let your little one see you have your hair cut. Look through some hairdressing storybooks together or play hairdressers (minus the scissors) at home. By introducing the concept, it’ll make the big day itself a little less daunting.

Tips for toddler haircuts at the stylists

Senior stylist Steven Camsell from Francesco Group Weeping Cross, has had many good and bad experiences over the years and agrees that preparation really is key to a stress-free first haircut. Here Steven shares his top five tips for making your little one's haircut go as well as possible.

Do your research - Choose a good salon with an experienced stylist. Ask other parents who they use to get an idea of good children’s hairdressers in your area.

Get the timing right - Time of day is very important for the first cut. If your child is overtired or hungry, it’ll make the experience stressful for everyone involved. The best time is morning around 10am when your little one is at their best.

Make it a positive experience - It’s important that your little one will want to return for a haircut, so make it a fun experience. Bring in their favourite toy or comforter so they feel reassured. Toddlers may want to bring in a favourite toy or book to show the stylist - this will encourage them to open up and get to know the person about to cut their hair. The first experience is all about getting your child used to the salon environment. Even if it’s just a small trim, it’s the experience that is important rather than the haircut in the beginning.

Be realistic - If your child has a lot of energy and isn’t particularly good at sitting still for long, then a quirky baby celeb style isn’t going to happen. Instead, opt for an easy to maintain style until they are older and better at sitting still for longer periods.

Routine is key - It’s important to try to stick to the same stylist as it will help them to build trust and rapport. By going for regular haircuts with the same stylist, your little one will eventually love the visit to the hairdressers as much as you do!

Remember to be patient with your little one. A haircut is a necessity and although there may be a few tears to begin with, by following these tips and making it all as fun an experience as possible, your little one will want to return to the salon over and over again!

Celebrate your baby's first haircut!

While a trip to the salon for a haircut can be a bit of 'me-time' for us mums, getting their haircut for the first time can be a worrying experience for your tot, so it’s important to get that first cut right. Try to celebrate this milestone with them with a little treat, and celebrate how marvellous they look and they'll be excited as ever for next time.

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