I laugh every time I see my oldest son's first haircut picture. His little body is covered by a giant red cape, and his sweet, pathetic face, covered in stray hairs, has an expression of having survived something terrible. I can laugh now, because he's old enough for me to tease him about how difficult he was, and I've got the picture to prove it. But there's a reason why those haircut appointments were few and far between, in the early years.
Over time, and after another kid, I figured out some strategies for easing the situation a bit, so I thought I'd share them with you.
Lesson one: Pick a kid-friendly place.
This seems obvious – but it was my first mistake. I took my baby to my husband's long time barber – a nice, but kind of loud and in-your-face older man. After a traumatic visit there, I decided to try out a place that was geared for children at the local mall. Once he sat in the fire engine chair in front of a TV with cartoons playing, things eased up a bit. Seeing other kids there (who weren't crying) was probably helpful, too.
Lesson two: Give the stylist a heads up.
My son was OK until the buzzer or blow dryer went on, but for some reason, I didn't speak up at first. Other kids might not like a stranger holding their head still, or freak out if water is sprayed on them. Whatever the case is, no one knows your child like you, so don't be shy to make suggestions to the person cutting your baby's hair on what might work best.
Lesson three: Think about your baby's schedule.
Don't make the appointment during a naptime or when you know he'll be hungry. And in case of a long wait, have snacks on hand. This is also not the time to forget their pacifier, favorite toy, or lovey.
Lesson four: Practice first.
Take him along to one of your haircuts, or that of an older sibling, a few days before his appointment. Or, you can give him a pretend haircut in his high chair in the days leading up to the real haircut. If he gets used to the idea of being in the barber chair, it may ease his fears.
Like all milestones, you never know how your baby will react to something new until he or she tries it. Do what you can to minimize your baby's fears, but don't stress too much. The end result will be a super cute new haircut (and a fun photo to remember the big day!).
Dawn Papandrea is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, women's lifestyle, and personal finance. Her work has appeared in Family Circle, Parents, WomansDay.com, and more. She lives in Staten Island, NY with her husband, two fast-growing boys, and a living room full of toys.