Hair is made of melanin, keratin (same stuff as your creepy toenails) and protein. It’s about 42 percent carbon, 28 percent oxygen, 15 percent nitrogen, 7 percent hydrogen, and 5 percent sulphur. You could tell all this to your kid to make them less freaked out about their first haircut, but the only thing they know is their hair is 100 percent part of them. Haircut? Ha ha, father. Don’t you mean murder-dismemberment-death-kill?
You’ve got to admit that removing a part of your body is pretty freaky. Especially if your brain is still trying to figure out what the hell a body even is. So how do you get your kid to deal with their first haircut? Basically, by any means necessary.
A lot of cultures have ritualized haircutting around the first birthday. Of course, the thing about hair is that it grows. So your timing might be completely based on necessity. Of course, waiting doesn’t necessarily mean your kid’s hair has to be crazy and unkempt. Depending on what type hair they have there are numerous non-cutting ways to manage a mane. That could include cornrows, braids, ponytails or any other number of styles that probably won’t work on many a blond haired boy. Sorry.
If you have the ability to wait, your kid may get less frightened as they understand more about the procedure (particularly if you don’t call it a procedure). Even if you aren’t waiting, it’s important to communicate with them about what a haircut is. Explain how things are going to go down. Role play haircutting at home. And maybe call it a “trim” instead of a cut to keep the kid far from thoughts of blood.
A first haircut can really happen anywhere there are scissors, clippers and a spray bottle. Which, interestingly, does not rule out the dog groomers (though there are probably laws. Pesky stupid laws). That said, it’ll probably come down to two options:
Pros: There is a ton of comfort in cutting hair at home. It’s a safe space, there are things to distract and if you need to take a break because of screaming, that can can happen super easily. Also, the only cost is to your soul.
Cons: You have to know at least something about making a kid’s head look decent. Otherwise you’ll be left with a kid that looks jacked up, or you’ll have to head out to a salon anyway. Or a saloon. Whichever is more helpful.
Pros: Salons that cater to kids have just about everything that would make a kid chillax and enjoy the first cut. But you don’t have to go that big. Your regular joint may just be the place, particularly if your kid gets to watch them have a go at your noggin first. Just try not to cry like you usually do.
Cons: There is a price to pay for a pro. And a premium to pay for the kid-centric joints. Even then, you’ll be SOL if your kid is freaking out and refuses half way through. Also, strangers can be a bit tough for toddlers, particularly if you have a freaky stylist.
The Prep Work
No matter how you decide it’s going to go down. You’ll need to make sure your kid is ready for the eventualities of their trim. It’s up to you to help make their first hairdo a happy time. Here’s how you can help them make it through this hairy situation.
Give Them Agency: Let them pick out the hairstyle, or a streak of washable color, or hold the comb or spray bottle. Anything to help them feel some control.
Keep The Hair Out Of Sight: It’ll freak them out. It used to be part of them. That’s a hard thing to wrap your newly sheared head around.
Distract Them: Any arguments about screen time are moot at this point. Give them as many screens as they want with as much colorful bullshit playing on them as they desire.
Go Early: Let them hang out at the joint for a little bit to get acclimated to the place. They can even watch as others get a trim.
Offer Comfort Objects: Do they want to hold a stuffy? Suck a pacifier? Hold a blanket? Let it happen.
Forgo The Cape: Sometimes the whole plastic cape thing can be frightening. Just bring a change of clothes that they can slip into after finishing up.
Reward Bravery: A prize never hurt anyone (unless it was a sharpened stick).
With some good front-loading and a plan, your kid’s first haircut might even be a tear-free deal. And all that cut keratin will be just another kinda-weird and morbid artifacts in your partner’s scrapbook.