Deciding when to give a baby his or her first haircut depends on several factors, including parents' cultural practices or religious beliefs and the child's need for a trim, as well as psychological readiness.
Cultural and Religious Traditions
In some cultures, babies' hair is shaved off shortly after birth, whereas, in other cultures, children's lengthy tresses are shorn in an elaborate ceremony around the time of puberty. Even if they do not have strong cultural or religious beliefs pertaining to the first haircut, many American parents follow the tradition of waiting until a child's first birthday for the first haircut. Most parents save a lock of their baby's hair as a keepsake.
When Is the Timing Right?
Parents who do not subscribe to a particular cultural belief regarding the first haircut are free to choose a time that seems right for themselves and their child. This freedom, however, brings with it confusion. Superstitions concerning adverse consequences occurring if a baby's hair is cut before his or her first birthday, however, are untrue.
Although there is no correct answer as to when a child should receive his or her first haircut, parents can consider several factors when deciding when to cut their child's hair for the first time. First, babies should be able to hold their heads up while sitting in a parent's lap, which means they will usually need to be at least three or four months old. Also, some babies are born with a headful of hair that keeps growing. These babies will likely need a haircut sooner than babies who were born with no hair or went bald shortly after birth.
Planning for a Successful First Haircut
Finally, once parents decide their child is ready for the first haircut, they can ease their child into the haircut in a number of ways.
Practice. Whether the parents plan to cut their baby's hair at home or take the child to a salon, they can make a game out of pretend haircuts at home to build the baby's comfort level.
Use softer language. Even babies may already know a "cut" is painful. Therefore, refer to the haircut as a "trim" to make it sound less scary.
Consider a professional haircut. Parents can cut their child's hair themselves, but an experienced professional may be better able to give a baby a safe and attractive haircut.
Choose a child-friendly salon or barber shop. Some exclusively cater to children, but many adult shops offer patient staff members who are skilled at cutting babies' hair and facilities complete with videos and toys to distract anxious babies. (Some salons even offer settings tailored to children with autism.)
Do not try to cut a tired or hungry child's hair. The haircut should be scheduled after nap- and mealtime for a well-behaved and pleasant baby.
Reward good behavior. Offer a hair-related reward, such as a bow for a girl, or a favorite treat.
The first haircut is a momentous occasion for parents, regardless of religious or cultural significance. Preparing a child for the experience, timing it right and selecting a kid-friendly location can also ensure the experience is an enjoyable and memorable event.