15 answers

Advice for Cutting Toddler's Hair

I'm looking to hear about what techniques have worked for others when it comes to cutting hair. I have an 18-month-old boy whose hair I've trimmed many times, but I'm ready to move on from the simple "page boy" look to more shaping. Is an electric trimmer useful, and if so, what should I know about what kind to get and technique to use? My scissor skills (and his holding-still skills) are quite rudimentary, but if scissors are recommended over shavers, is there a trick to getting it all decent-looking?

I'll probably take him for a pro cut every now and then, but I'd like to be able to do it mostly at home, so thanks for any advice you have!

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Hi C. I've been cutting my little guys hair since he was 12 months now he is 23 months. I have him brush his teeth(which he loves to do), and sit on the bathroom vanity. I use electric clippers that have low vibration, I picked them up at Walmart for like $20, and then I do final touches with scissors. So my suggestion is to give him something to do, and keep his mind off what you are going to do. Hope it helps you.

H. A

Photography by H. Arbo

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I've been using an electric trimmer since my little guy was about 14 months and it's great. I use the 1" setting all over the head. I confess I took him to one last trip to SnipIts and watched their technique before trying it solo. They started at the nape of the neck and worked towards the center of the head. Once you try it it's obvious why by the way the "blade" catches the hair. Sometimes it's a little uneven in places if the hair builds up in the "blade". He's still too squirmy at 22 months to use scissors around the ears so that's usually the hardest part that doesn't look great, but no one's mentioned it so it can't be that bad! Beats paying $15 at SnipIt's anyways - that's more than my husband pays!!!

Do it in front of the TV but not with a show that encourages dancing or bouncing around. My son went to a barber who had a full-length mirror, and a trick spider on a piece of fishing line that the barber could make move up & down without the kid seeing how it worked. A lot of pros use tricks like this or a video. I'd try not to get too creative at 18 months if you're not a pro - you're saving money but making yourself crazy. Just go to a trimmer and be done with it! Or let it grow longer and be done with it!

If your looking for him to sit still try a lolipop. Keep a glass of water close by for when it gets hairy. It worked like a charm when we brought my son at 14 months to get his hair done. Another idea is the tv if there is something he likes to watch. The place we go plays cartoons and that works for my nephew whose 2. Sorry I have no advice for cutting it though. Good Luck!

Hi C. I've been cutting my little guys hair since he was 12 months now he is 23 months. I have him brush his teeth(which he loves to do), and sit on the bathroom vanity. I use electric clippers that have low vibration, I picked them up at Walmart for like $20, and then I do final touches with scissors. So my suggestion is to give him something to do, and keep his mind off what you are going to do. Hope it helps you.

H. A

Photography by H. Arbo

i have three boys, plus a husband, so i have also taken to figuring out how to do this job on the side!
couple quick thoughts:
--i try to just really regularly trim my 2 year old's hair rather than waiting for one big session. so, while he's sitting up on the changing table i give him a basket of things to look at (like combs and mini shampoos or whatever from the drawer) and i just give him a quick trim w/ scissors while he's occupied. i have him turn around a few times so i can see all sides of his head.
--with my 4 year old, i started having him sit for longer sessions less frequently, when he was three perhaps, and i do use the electric clippers alternating with the scissors and he watches a video--this works well for me b/c it's one of the only times he watches the screen..either way somehting novel is the trick to sitting still
--and my last offering is to have faith! this kind of thing is not at all my training or strenght but after doing it for two years we get compliments on their hair (even my husband's) all the time so i feel like i'm gradually achieving a small victory! (and reducing our expenses considerably)
best of luck to you

I cut my son's hair (now 3) since he was a toddler like your son's age. I sit him in the booster seat and distract him with a little show and a treat (like a lollipop or m&m's or something). I also cut my husbands hair so my son got to see that done many times so he was excited when it was his turn.

As for the actual technique, that's harder to explain. I call his hairstyle "a little boy regular" but I don't know if that's really the name or not - growing up my dad always called it that to my brothers. I use the clippers on the bottom of his hair and hairstyling scissors on the top and around the ears. I'll break this into the three basic steps that I use:

1. I first buzz the bottom and sides, even around the ears, with clippers using the 6mm attachment and then go back over the very bottom by his neck with a 3mm and taper it off lightly as I go up (to "fade it" into the rest of the back).

2. For the top, I generally pick up his hair with my fingers (like you see hairstylists typically do when they slide a section through their fingers) and bring it up about 3/4" or so then cut. First I would go from front to back across the whole top of his head and then repeat going the opposite way(side to side) to make sure I got everything to be about the same. I don't bother using a comb, just keep picking it up with my fingers until I get it all, just takes a few minutes.

3. Lastly I got back over the sides to blend the top of the hair with the buzzed sides. To do this, I take the comb and bring it vertically along the side of his head. So basically, I take the comb and lightly hold it against the side of his head so it's flush with his temple sticks up into the air (so it basically goes from about his ear and sticks up above his head). As you bring the brush straight back towards the back of his head, cut any hair that sticks out (it will mostly be hair from the top) from the teeth of the comb. Depending on your sons hair, you may find it easier to start from the back.

You can probably skip step 3 depending on what style you're looking for, how comfortabe you're feeling or how well your son is doing. I didn't add on step 3 until he was used to it a few times but it really doesn't take more than a few minutes. And if you see any long hairs but the ears, just push the top of the ear gently down and cut around to naturally follow the ear line.

Hope this helps. It gets easier and faster the more times you do it. If you've nervous or have never really seen this done before, you may want to take him to the barber or hairdresser the first time to watch and ask questions. Another idea would be to watch a few clips on youtube. You can just enter "how to cut hair" or something in the search box. Good luck!!

Good luck! I think it's something worth learning because it saves so much money. However, there are some places that charge very little (like the place in my town apparently only charges as much as the child's age).

I've cut my boys hair all along. I think I had my friend, who is a hairdresser only do it once. It saves so much money!! I use the buzzers, and usually will do a shorter one on the bottom (like a 3) , and a longer one on top (like 5). Or, I've also done the whole thing pretty short except the bangs so I can spike them. My boys are a little older now, so last night I used the comb and straight buzzer just to clean up the sides, since I like to grow it a little longer for the winter. I do remember when they were younger, though, that my mom would sit and feed them grapes while I cut their hair. It worked pretty well to have that distraction! Good luck!

First have the hair cut by a pro. Watch how it is done.
What words the hairdresser uses, too.
That will give you the pattern you will want to follow.
Use the same type of utensils she (or he) uses on your son.
Some times electric things buzzing in their hair scares them.
Do not say CUT when referring to the hair. Some toddlers think it will hurt to have their hair cut.
Say trim, or do your hair, or tidy up some shaggy ends, or any other word that might be in his vocabulary that does mean "ouch".
Warm regards, Regina

as a licensed cosmetologist i would advise you to go get his hair cut from a pro. And ask her/him the best way for you to maintain the look at home, especially with you wanting him to have more of a style. They would hopefully show you how to keep up with his hair between pro. cuts, and it sounds like you do that already. As for buying clippers and doing it yourself just be cautious. If you were to cut it shorter then you like he may end up with a buzz cut. Or at least a bad cut till it grows out. Good luck with everything... N.

Just be very careful when you start with the buzzers at this age! I say this to you because we did this with our older son, and he clearly was not ready for the buzzer yet and it freaked him out so bad that even now is a horrible time trying to get his hair cut! We didn't do ours at home either, we had it done professionaly.
Your child may be different but just use caution if I were you. As far as hair cutting advice...I wish I had some for you, sorry! I would try to stick with the scissors for now until your child's a little older, but you gotta do whats best for you. Good Luck.


my son hates the noies and vibrations so tell him they tickle and maybe he'll be ok with it?? Do you do your husband's hair?? Maybe letting him watch that will help

Take him to a pro and pay attention to how they cut his hair.

I used to do my sons hair on my own all the time and it did not look great (trying to save money.) Then one day I took him and his brother to a hair dresser (Super Cuts) and watched exactly what they did. They used clippers for most of it and the boys both sat still as can be. So off to BJ's I went and got a pair for $20. I now do most of the trimming myself with a pro cut maybe twice a year to get some shape back into it and I have saved a TON of money!! Plus it actually looks good.

Good luck!

H. Z. (SAHM 5, almost 4 and 16 month old boys)

Hi C., I am a professional hairdresser so of course i had to respond. My advice would be to start him in a salon, they even have ones that just cater to kids. However, to do it at home I would suggest purchasing Wahl clippers you can get at Walmart. They come with different size attatchments so you don't have to give him a wiffle look. Of course there are pros and cons between scissors and clippers. Scissors are sharp you risk cutting yourself or your son. The clippers are loud he may be frightened by them. I would suggest calling them "ticklers" or somehow make it fun. And last when its time for his haircut never say "cut" it is better to say trim. Cut is usually associated with pain. Good luck trust me I know it won't be easy.

I use hair clippers on my 10-month-old son. The nice thing is that, so long as you use a long-hair setting until you know how well he will stay still etc, you get an even cut even if they turn their head, etc. My clippers are pretty quiet, and it didn't see to bother my son. I have the Andis 23745 Promotor 20-Piece Home Hair Cutting Kit - it comes with an instructional video and has a wide range of attachments, which I really like.

I cut my son's hair in his booster seat so he has to stay still. If you can have someone entertain him or let him watch TV or something that will help distract him. I cut my daughter's hair with scissors, and for me at least the clippers are easier (but don't work with longer hairdos). Most clippers come with OK hair-cutting scissors, if you don't have those already.

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