Cutting your toddler’s hair at home

Tears, screams, protesting, and utter cuteness— there’s nothing like your toddler’s first haircut.  For some parents, the agony over cutting those gorgeous locks, has mom and dad making several trips to the salon, and leaving without one single piece of hair removed. Yet, for others, a date with the clippers is high on the list, and long overdue.

Tips for toddler haircuts at home

Once the momentous “first cut,” has been done (by you or a professional), many parents opt for the kitchen chair and a set of cutting shears and/or clippers to take over the job. Not only does it save money, it can help ease the anxiety a child might have about visiting a stranger at a salon. And don’t worry, it’s not as hard (or scary) as it might seem.

  • Easiest cuts: The buzz cut is one of the easiest ways to rid your child’s head of messy hair. If you’re looking to keep some length, a bowl cut is another simple option. To keep things simple for long hair, trimming the bangs and taking some length off the back, is an easy cut to master at home.
  • Your tool kit: A towel to cover your child up and clothespins to keep the cover closed. Also included in the kit is a spray bottle of water, comb, cutting shears (not the kitchen scissors), clippers with a guard, detangler (for thick, hard to comb hair), and a towel, tablecloth, or sheet placed on the floor to catch the mess. Unless your toddler can sit perfectly still, consider securing him in a booster seat or highchair and allowing him to watch a movie (especially when doing the sides and back). When you need them to look down in order to cut the back, put something on the floor for them to focus on, like one of his favorite picture books.
  • Consider watching online videos: Thanks to YouTube, there are thousands of DIY videos online that can walk you step-by-step through various haircuts.
  • Do sections: First, part wet hair down the middle, with a center part (this helps ensure a precise cut). It’s best to section hair and work only on one area at a time, rather than chopping it all off at the same time. Section the hair with a comb and use a clip to pull back the sections you’re not working on. You establish your lengths with the first section you cut. As you move around the head, you can use the previous section as your guide.
  • The cut: Some parents swear by the “front first” motto, while others prefer to start in the back. It all comes down to preference. Wet hair thoroughly with a spray bottle. Comb bangs straight down and trim from the outside of one eyebrow to the outside of the other one. When doing the sides and back, hold the hair between your index and middle finger, pull down to the desired length, and cut below your finger line. If you have a wiggly toddler, it might be best to have another adult help hold him still, in order to free up both of your hands.
  • Tips for a buzz cut: All you need is a good set of clippers with a guard to master this stylish cut. Try a #3 or #4 guard for the first few cuts and move to a #2 if you want it shorter. Start at the nape of the neck, working your way up to the crown, and repeat all the way around. If you want to keep the top a little longer, you can use scissors instead of the clippers to trim the longer hair (just remember to cut in sections). Before you let your toddler loose, make sure to trim the hairs around the nape of the neck and around the ears.
  • What not to do: Unless you have experience as a stylist, it’s best to stay away from layering long hair. Also, avoid cutting an area of hair all at the same time (grabbing a handful and cutting a few inches off the bottom). And if your first few attempts ends in the most hideous hairstyle ever, don’t panic. After all, it’s hair and it will grow back.
  • Other helpful tips: Some kids are initially afraid of scissors because they’ve been told that scissors are dangerous and can cut people. Anticipate that Baby might be afraid of those metal choppers coming towards their head, and consider having a discussion beforehand about the use of scissors for haircuts. Additionally, after the cut is complete, make sure to put the scissors away so they doesn&;t use them on their own hair. 

 About the author:
Sara Lindberg is a freelance writer focusing on parenting, health, and wellness. She is passionate about all things fitness and health and loves spending time with her husband, daughter, and son. 

  • Jamie Newman. “6 Tips for Cutting Kids’ Hair.” Modern Salon. September 28 2016. Retrieved July 11 2017.
  • Dawn Wagner, Stylist at Elements of Style in Silverdale, Washington.

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