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That first haircut

While a child’s first haircut can happen at any age, it is most frequently a major milestone that occurs during the toddler years. How can you prepare so that your toddlers first haircut doesn’t become a traumatic event?

The importance of the first haircut varies throughout the world. While some people view the first haircut simply as a milestone, to others it holds religious significance or serves as a rite of passage. In South Africa it is often a milestone that is recorded in photos, certificates and a saved lock of hair. Unfortunately it is also accompanied by a fair amount of tears.

image 437While it is impossible to erase your child’s fear completely, you can help her prepare for her first haircut and reduce the degree of trauma. The first thing to decide is where you are going to have your toddler’s first haircut done. Will you do it at home yourself or do you have a family member or friend who knows how to cut hair?

Doing the first haircut at home may be easier because your child is in her own environment. If not, try to select a salon or barber shop that specializes in children’s haircuts. Some of them offer fun booster seats and videos to distract your toddler during the actual haircut.

It is important that your toddler knows ahead of time what to expect with her first haircut. You can explain to her what to expect, practice spraying water on her hair, even set up a pretend salon in your home for playtime haircuts. If at all possible, let your toddler go watch Dad or her siblings get a haircut a few times before her own haircut.

Make an appointment. It is important to make an appointment so that you aren’t forced to wait as a “walk in”. Even the best-behaved toddler can have a meltdown after a lengthy, boring wait. When making an appointment it is important to pick a time of day in which your toddler will be well rested and well fed. Sleepy, hungry toddlers aren’t very tolerant of new experiences.
On the day of your toddler’s haircut let your child bring along a favorite stuffed animal or security object. Call the salon about 20 minutes before you arrive to find out if your stylist is running on schedule. It is easier to occupy a toddler by running in the park for a few minutes before an appointment than to keep her busy in the salon.

Once you arrive at the salon encourage your toddler to watch as other people have their haircuts. Explain what she is seeing and how she can expect the same thing when it is her turn. If the salon doesn’t offer fun toddler seats, or your child is very fearful, you may hold her on your lap while her hair is cut.

Take your cues from your toddler. While this is a momentous event for mommy and daddy too, some children actually do better if the parents wait in the seating area. Don’t forget to make the day fun. Consider planning a trip to the park or to the ice cream shop for an after-the-haircut treat. That gives your toddler something to look forward to beyond the haircut.

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