mom cutting baby's hair

How To Cut Baby's Hair Without Totally Ruining It

Because all that snipping isn't always a snap.

No one was more surprised than you when your baby was born, not a baldie, but with a head full of hair. (Maybe that explains all that hellish heartburn during your pregnancy.) But as lovely as those little locks might be, at some point, they might pour down over your baby’s peepers and make it harder for them to see well. And since you might not want to take a 7 month-old to a salon just yet, you’ll need to know how to cut baby hair. Be prepared, though, because the process can take longer than getting your own hair highlighted.

Time Your Baby’s Haircut Right

Babies are such fickle creatures. One minute, they’re gurling and giggling, and the next, they’re pitching their pureed peas onto the floor. That’s why you should make sure to figure out a time when Baby is feeling perky and pleasant. “Try a morning cut,” Ghanima Abdullah, a hair expert tells Romper. “This way, the baby just woke up, got changed. and had a meal, so you've crossed out three major baby-irritants.” After all, a happy baby is one that will handle the haircut well.

Bring In Reinforcements

Sure, you could try to snip your baby’s hair alone, but you might quickly find out that a haircut is a two-person job. “Try not to go at it alone,” Samantha Denis, licensed stylist, former bumble and bumble product development manager, and founder of Allyoos hair care line tells Romper. “Having someone there to help distract them and help hold them still will make this much more fun.” If you’re doing the snipping solo, make sure to pack on the entertainment. Bring out some toys that Baby goes bonkers over, or put on Bluey (or another favorite show) so that your child’s focus is on something fun — and not how much hair is hitting the floor.

Make It Quick

Of course, you want your haircut to come out looking beautiful, but in the interest of time, it’s best to keep things moving. “In my experience, babies and toddlers are going to move around a lot during their haircut - so try to make this quick,” advises Denis. But that doesn’t mean you should move quickly, particularly with a pointy object so close to your baby’s head. “Move slowly and safely, but try to keep the haircut very basic,” she says. Which brings us to…

Identify Your Hair Goals

Although you might like to channel your inner Jen Atkin, your baby has bigger things to do, like breastfeed before taking another nap. That’s why you should identify ahead of time what you want your hair goals to be. “It should be more of a clean-up than a haircut,” says Denis. “Do you want to trim their ends? Do you want to snip around the perimeter? Do you want to just cut the hair that keeps falling into their eyes?” Be sure to go in with a game plan before baby gets too bored.

Cut Baby’s Hair With The Right Scissors

Although you could, in theory, use any ol’ scissors, it’s best to use salon-style scissors, recommends Abdullah. Don’t have pro scissors lying around? Use baby nail clippers instead. “The thin edges of baby nail clippers are going to correspond with those thin baby locks,” explains Abdullah. “If you use a pair of kitchen or sewing shears or just anything that you have lying about the house, the thin little hairs will escape the scissors.” Scissors that have rounded edges are safer for babies and toddlers, since they’re especially designed for kids’ cuts.

Prep Your Space

If you thought that all you’ll need are a pair of scissors and, you know, your baby’s hair, think again. You’ll want to plan out this haircut with more precision than a bob cut. You’ll need, in addition to scissors, a towel or cutting cape, a spray bottle filled with warm water, and a place that’s at the right height for you to reach their hair.

Here’s How To Cut Baby’s Hair

The process of cutting your kiddo’s hair actually begins the day (or night) before the actual cut. Why? Well, it’s better to cut clean hair, according to Abdullah. “Dirt and oil tend to give your little one a different look, and you really want the cut to come out as accurately as possible,” she says. Washing hair the day before ensures a cleaner cut (ha). Just make sure that it’s fully dry before you start.

Once you’ve draped Baby in either a cape or a towel, you should spray one section of hair until it’s a little damp, but not soaking. And if you’re shaking your head wondering why your baby’s hair has to be totally dry before you wet it, well, we’re right there with you. “It seems counterintuitive because you just washed the hair yesterday; couldn't you have cut it then?” says Abdullah. “It's best to let it dry first so that it will be in place. Then you can dampen it and make small cuts.”

And now, it’s time to start snipping. “If your goal is to trim your little one's ends, then comb the hair all the way towards the back of the head,” says Denis. “Hold the ends of the hair in between your middle and pointer finger, and snip the desired amount of hair.” Next, you can quickly comb baby's hair into their natural part, and comb everything down to the sides and back of head. “Comb and gently hold ends again between middle and pointer fingers, making your way around their head until everything is the same length,” she says. “Be sure to slightly pull hair away from the head a bit when you are cutting, so you are not super close to your baby's head.” This style of cutting is called a “dusting” where you’re just basically cleaning up the ends — and leaving a whole new look up to a professional stylist to pull off.

As for how much you cut, Abdullah advises using small, angular cuts. “These are easier to accomplish than trying to make big cuts, since blunt cutting is very noticeable,” she says. “The trim might only be noticeable as ‘shorter’ if you take small snips on small sections of hair.” Make sure to hold the hair out at a ninety-degree angle to your child's head and use your fingers as a buffer zone to avoid injuries. And if you’re cutting around your child’s ears, use your hand to protect the area from any potential accidents.

Make It Fun

It might be hard to be happy when you’re wielding a sharp object so close to baby’s beautiful head. But a big part of the success of the haircut is being optimistic. “Stay positive even if your child moves and, whoops, there goes a chunk!” says Abdullah. “Smile in the realization that your child probably won't know the difference, anyway.” If you look frustrated or angry, your child will pick up on it and find the experience utterly unpleasant, which is the last thing that you want. Even if you accidentally snip off more than you meant to, just laugh and try to fix it — and get used to your baby’s new look. And if this is baby’s first haircut, be sure to save the hair in a bag with their name and the date.

Giving your baby a haircut can be a bonding experience for both of you. If you go into it with a good attitude, your baby won’t know (or care) if their bangs are a little, ahem, uneven. With some experience, your haircuts will eventually make the cut for both of you.