Reuben’s First Hair Cut: Tips For Toddler Salon Success

April 24, 2018


If you’ve ever looked at your little one and thought they’ve grown up in a blink of an eye, wait until they have their first hair cut.  All of a sudden your baby looks set for school and you’re grieving the loss of those wispy soft curls.

Last week Reuben had his first professional hair cut and it was more traumatic than I imagined it would be.  I’d assumed the worst was in accepting my little baby was growing up quicker than I was ready for, and that once I’d come around to it, it wouldn’t be so bad.  After all, getting your hair done is just a fact of life and if not the most mundane task, can be pretty enjoyable, so why the stress?

It appears taking a one year old for a hair cut is akin to preparing for war.  Timing and preparation is everything and if you get it wrong all hell breaks loose.

Find my top 6 tips for a successful first visit to the salon at the end of this post.

Combing my fingers through Reuben’s dense mop of hair (relishing the last time I’d probably get to do it), I knew this wasn’t a job I fancied doing myself.  I figured it just wanted a tidy up; a trim around the ears and the nape of the neck would be enough, but still, I wanted someone who knew what they were doing to avoid me giving him the most embarrassing first cut of his life.

After asking mum friends of older little boys who they used, we went with the most appealing option – a free first hair cut at a local barbers.



The easy thing about barbers is that they’re pretty good for walk in appointments.  This seemed ideal as it meant we could time it with Reuben’s routine so it didn’t clash with dinner time or nap time.  But when we took Reuben along one early afternoon there was already a good queue, and fifteen minutes of trying to distract Reuben from the intriguing salon floor with a box of bricks quickly escalated to a stressful wait.  Deciding to abort the mission, one of the stylists suggested we return for an appointment which we were able to get for half an hour later.  Just enough time to escape the waiting room drama and go change a nappy.

Feeling nervous about how Reuben would cope sitting alone in a chair I was glad to be asked if he wanted to sit on my lap. So up I got into the barbers chair and perched little Reuben upon my knee. Tying the cape around me so I was protected from falling hair, the stylist offered Reuben a child’s cape which he was having none of. I should have anticipated that; he doesn’t like crackly plastic bibs so a protective cape would of course be no different. And that meant the inevitable: itchy hair everywhere.

Once the stylist started, it was straight forward enough. I held Reuben facing the direction he needed to be in and, as much as Reuben silently protested while grappling for the scissors, the stylist snipped when and where she could. But the stylist’s limited confidence with cutting a toddler’s hair only stirred up my nerves. “Keep his head still”, she’d say. “Stop him moving his hands. Stand him up. Turn him that way”. And of course I could only do so much; I was already vaguely deflecting Reuben’s attention with the game on Daddy’s phone.



Twenty minutes of snipping and twisting and turning and it all got a bit too much for Reuben who, by now quite overwhelmed and incredibly itchy, started to whimper.  No big tears or tantrums, but he was upset, and less than five minutes later, draped over Mummy’s shoulder, he actually fell asleep. Bless the poor little lamb, the drama had wiped him out.

So Reuben’s hair was chopped – much more generously than I’d prepared myself for.  In an instant my baby now looked like one of the big boys.  And wrapped up in my own anxiousness, I’d forgotten to keep the first cut curl.

His little jumper was covered in a blanket of hair, so when we pulled it off over his head a dazed Reuben woke up. I just wanted out of the barbers so once outside and into the forgiving sun we stripped him down and changed his clothes.  Even his nappy hadn’t evaded those irritable blades of hair.


Got that first hair cut approaching?   Here’s my 6 Top Tips for a successful first trip to the salon:




Don’t jump for the first hairdressers in the phone book.  Call around, ask friends, get some options to help choose the best salon to go to.  Some barbers may be more child friendly, others will be more traditional or modern which will reflect in their styles of cuts and prices.



Work out the best time when there’ll be no meals or naps due.   Drop in to the hairdressers in a quiet period or book an appointment for the perfect time.



Have some entertainment at the ready – take a few favourite books and make sure phones are charged with toddler friendly games installed.



Take an extra outfit for the little one and possibly yourself – a cape will only protect so much, and if your child’s gone without, then be prepared to be covered!



It’s okay if baby doesn’t co-operate and sit like a mannequin. When all else fails, get gearing up for those cuddles because cuddles make everything okay.



Your toddler won’t be old enough for the lollipop so offer some little snacks as a ‘well done’.  And you may want a little drink of something strong after all that too – if you don’t need it, you certainly deserve it!


Is your little one yet to have their first hair cut?  Maybe you’ve experienced that first trip to the hairdressers already – what would be your tips for a smooth event?

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