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How to Cut Baby Hair 101 (Tips and Tricks)

Cutting your baby’s hair is one of the few things that are more nerve-racking than cutting their fingernails for the first time. Clippers can cut into their skin. Scissors are sharp.

I almost cried before I even picked up the scissors to cut my son’s hair for the first time! However, after years of hair cuts both at home and at the salon, I’ve developed a certain amount of skill pertaining to children’s haircuts.

With these tips, you can rest assured that you’ll get through that first haircut, and many more, just fine!

When To Cut Your Baby’s Hair

It’s an old wives’ tale that a baby should not get a hair cut before their first birthday. Some parents can choose to wait this long, provided the hair is not an issue.

Children that are born with a head full of hair that magically does not fall out will have plenty of hair before their first birthday.

It can get in their eyes, smeared with baby food, and cause quite a few problems for parents. This, and cultural reasons, are why some parents opt to cut baby’s hair before their first birthday. 

Whichever route you choose to take is fine. When you want to give your little one their first hair cut is a personal choice. If you plan on taking them to the salon, it’s important to call first to make sure that they will accept a young child as a client. 

Tips For Cutting Your Baby’s Hair

Before you even gather your supplies, you need to have a plan of action. Babies tend to squirm a lot. They fuss when they are hungry or tired.

Cutting their hair can either be a peaceful, treasured memory or a nightmare that you never want to repeat. These tips will help you make sure that it is a sweet, blissful moment. 

baby first haircut

Timing Is Everything

Don’t cut hair when your little one is tired, before they eat, etc. They might be scared of the scissors or clippers.

If you add something else to that, such as them being hungry, you set yourself up for failure (and a disastrous hair cut.) Instead, make sure that you time your haircut perfectly. It should be after they’ve eaten or taken a nap. 

You Can Do Small Trims In Their Sleep

When my firstborn was born, she was born with long baby fingernails. Her hospital pictures were taken, but they couldn’t snap the camera before she promptly clawed her face (her mittens were removed directly before the pictures.)

I cut her nails but accidentally cut her tiny, precious finger. I think I cried more than she did. Then, I started cutting them while she was asleep. 

I discovered that you can do this same thing with several things, from head lice issues to small hair cuts. If you need to use clippers or your baby needs complete hair cut this won’t work.

However, a quick trim of their bangs or the long curls in the back can easily happen if your little one is a deep sleeper and falls quickly back asleep after being moved. 

Have Distractions Prepared

Children will become restless after so long. Even if your little one is not scared of the hair cut itself, they won’t like sitting still for that long.

This is why it’s important to have a few distractions that can keep them busy, and help them sit still. Letting your little one watch a movie during a haircut is ideal.

Yet, if you’re not one to encourage television viewing at such a young age, you do have other options. If your little one has a favorite toy that they tend to focus on, use that. Try to avoid toys that will make them excited as they will move more with these toys. 

Having another person present for the haircut is a wonderful idea, too! Another person can provide your little one with toys, sing them songs, or read them a story while you focus on cutting their hair.

If this is your first time cutting their hair, and they need a full hair cut, have a friend help you if you can. 

Have A Soothing Plan

If your little one is scared of a haircut, they will cry. If you’re already anxious or nervous, it’s easy for their favorite song to slip your mind. This is why it’s important to have a soothing plan.

mother and baby girl happy

If your little one starts to fuss, know what you are going to do beforehand. Then, when you are cutting their hair, you’ll already have a plan in place. It works better to already know how you are going to react to a situation when you’re anxious. 

Have Everything You Could Possibly Need Before Starting The Haircut

When you gather your supplies, double-check to make sure that you have everything. Once your little one is in the middle of their hair cut, you don’t want to have to walk away. Instead, keep everything within arms reach, including toys, etc. 

Use A Table Booster Seat If You Have One

A highchair is a nice idea, but these often have a high back that makes cutting hair in the back more difficult. If you’re simply trimming their bangs, a high chair will work.

For any other haircuts, use a booster seat designed for the table if you have one. You can also pick one up for the occasion. (You’ll need one once your little one gets older, so it won’t go to waste.) 

Always Be Prepared For Movement

My son was surprisingly calm during his first haircut, but he was definitely curious about what was going on. As soon as he heard a noise he whipped his head around to see what was happening.

If you’re not prepared for this and working slowly, you can accidentally snip their skin or ear. 

How To Cut Your Baby’s Hair: Step By Step

If you’re going to use scissors, you’ll use a different technique than using clippers. The beginning steps and most of the other supplies that you need will be the same, however. 

Gather All Of Your Supplies

Before bringing your little one into the room, make sure to gather any supplies that you’ll need. These include: 

  • Toys or other distractions
  • Another person if possible
  • An envelope if you plan to save their first curl
  • A seat
  • A spray bottle full of lukewarm water
  • A comb
  • Something to wrap around them (you can use a towel if you don’t have one of the capes you’re supposed to use)
  • Whatever you’re cutting their hair with (scissors or clippers)

Calm Your Nerves

When another person is stressed, children pick up on that. This also applies if you are feeling nervous or anxious. This is why it’s important to calm your own nerves before bringing your baby into the room.

Think of it as an exciting time! This is their first haircut! If Take a few deep breaths. If you are nervous, start slowly. A tiny snip with scissors or a little buzz with clippers is fine. This will help both you and your little one see that it’s going to be fine.

cutting baby hair

Sit Them Down, And Occupy Them

Sit them in their booster seat, and make sure that your little one is occupied. Give them their favorite toy, turn on a movie, etc. You want them to be occupied before you get started. 

Wrap A Towel Or Cape Around Their Shoulders

This is to catch the hair that you cut off. A cape is ideal because little one’s move around a lot, and it can be hard to keep a towel in place. However, you can wrap a towel around their shoulders to try to keep some of the hair off as well. 

Comb Their Hair

Comb their gorgeous hair carefully to remove the tangles. Babies have short, fine hair so this shouldn’t take too long. Once all the tangles are gone, you’re done with this step. 

After you comb their hair, the steps are a bit different for clippers and scissors. For example, you don’t want to wet their hair if you’re using clippers. Wet hair will clog the clippers easier than dry hair will. 

Cutting Your Baby’s Hair With Scissors

Most people prefer to cut a baby’s hair with scissors. This is the preferred method used if you’re just giving them a quick trim, have never used clippers before, or are simply do not want the hair that short. Scissors are generally easier to work with, too. 

Focus On One Small Section At A Time When Cutting Hair

Don’t get all of the baby’s hair wet at once. Instead, focus on one small section. After you are done with one section, repeat the steps with another section, continuing to move around the head until you are done. 

Get Hair Wet Before Cutting It

Hair is easier to cut with scissors when it is wet. To get the hair wet, simply spray it a couple of times with the spray bottle. Then comb it one last time.

Remember, you don’t have to wet the entire head. You only need to work on one section at a time. If you get all of their hair damp, the hair on the other side of their head will be dry when you get to it. 

boy having a hair cut

One Little Snip At A Time

After you comb their hair, hold it between two fingers, and gently cut the hair at the end.

It’s important to remember that hair is longer when it’s wet, so you won’t want to cut it too short. Instead, cut it about an inch longer than you want it. Then, it will be this long when it dries. 

Cut an inch or so off the hair at a time. If it’s still too long, you can always cut more off later. It’s better to cut it too long instead of too short. 

Repeat the same process the rest of the way around their head. Simply dampen a section, comb it, snip off the ends, and move on to the next. 

Cutting Your Baby’s Hair With Clippers

Clippers are a bit easier to use than scissors, provided that your little one is not scared of them. They don’t require the same careful sectioning that scissors do, and you don’t have to get the hair wet first!

Comb The Hair

First, come your little one’s hair. If there are tangles or food in their hair, the clippers will get stuck. Then, they will pull on the hair, which can hurt your baby. 

Start With A Longer Guard

Start with a longer guard than you normally would. For example, if you’re thinking of cutting their hair with a two, cut it with a three. If you want it a little bit shorter, you can switch to a two for a final trim to get it the perfect length. 

Move The Clippers In All Directions

When you cut your little one’s hair, it’s important to move the clippers in all four directions. If you don’t, there will be stray hairs that are longer than the others.

Moving the clippers in more than one direction when cutting the hair will give you a smooth, even hair cut.

cutting hair with clippers

Cutting Boy’s Hair Vs. Girl’s Hair

Cutting a boy’s hair vs. cutting a girl’s hair is not very different. Both genders will need something to keep them distracted, and possibly another person.

Traditionally, a girl’s hair will be longer, which means that you should cut it using scissors. A boy’s hair is usually shorter, so it’s best to use clippers unless you’re just cutting off the longer curls in the back. 

Tips For Taking Your Baby To The Salon

Some children are so mesmerized by the experience at the salon that simply sitting in the chair will be enough to keep them fascinated and still throughout the hair cut. If it’s not, remember these tips: 

  • Soothing methods, such as singing, work well for little one’s that are scared
  • Most salons will let you put your little one on your lap for the hair cut
  • Scissors are usually less scary to little ones than clippers due to the noise that clippers make
  • Most salons give a child a sucker when they’re done
  • You can let them play on your phone while they get their hair cut

Taking your little one to a salon is usually the preferred choice among parents that are nervous about cutting their little one’s hair.

Call ahead to a salon to make sure that they take children, and remember these tips. Most salons that take children are experienced in cutting a little one’s hair, so you don’t have anything to worry about. 

In Conclusion

When cutting your baby’s hair, or taking them to a salon, remember that they might be scared or nervous. Practice soothing methods to help relieve their anxiety, and enjoy the experience together!

Unless there is a medical condition or the hair is bothering your baby, there is no need to cut a little one’s hair before their first birthday, but this is completely up to you.

Whenever you’re ready to do it, don’t forget to save those first locks of baby hair!