How to give a toddler a haircut

Curly haired toddler

Or “How to give a toddler a haircut: my N of 1.”

Hudson’s curls are so beautiful that it always pains me a little to see them go, but they were getting a bit out of control. We used to take him to a kid-specific salon where he’d sit on a frog’s lap or pretend to fly an airplane for distraction, but I decided it was time to (literally) try my hand.

I turned to the place where all skills are learned: YouTube. This was the video I watched for encouragement.

Wetting a toddler's hair

I decided not to worry about bits of hair falling and mingling with a bite of food, or screen time rules, and used slices of pear (which takes him a long time to work through) and a video of Mary Poppins (only the cartoony bit with dogs and horses and lively music would do but it was just long enough) for distraction. The video advises wetting your baby’s hair with a spray bottle, but I used a wet washcloth and a comb. You don’t want the hair to be too wet, especially if it’s curly–it will get too short once it dries.

Ideally, you will have real barber shears, but Fiskars did the trick.

Preparing to cut a Toddler's Hair

Next, I tried to do exactly as I’d seen on the video–cutting sections “vertically”–only I started in the back. They get squirmy after a while, so the video advises starting with the bang trim as its probably the most important. I figured I’d better know whether I was going to be an utter failure before attempting that and went for the back. It worked well for me.

The main lesson I took away and thought was really most useful was to cut the hair “vertically.” In other words, grabbing the hair in the back and getting it between your fingers with you fingers perpendicular to their shoulders (and not straight across). You can do that same technique all across the midline of their head (like you’re making a mohawk) and then on each side. I only used the scissors parallel to his shoulders when trimming above his ears and a bit along the bang line–but then I also cut into the hair a little to be sure that I had no hard lines (which is the opposite of what you’d do if you wanted a completely straight bob, for example). I’m sure there’s a simpler way to explain “cutting vertically,” but hopefully that makes sense.

Be confident but start slowly–better to wish you’d cut more than the other way around.

Hudson’s hair is pretty forgiving, with its waves and curls, but I love how it turned out! (And that it saved me $30.)

Toddler Hair cut

Toddler's New Haircut

P.S. Hudson’s first haircut, first time swimming, and his twelve-month photo series. Oh–and look how dark his hair started!

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