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Baby’s first haircut: why, when and how? myths vs facts

Many parents have received strong advice about their baby’s first haircut. Often, that advice is delivered with seeming authority, but oddly enough it contradicts the next thing you’ll hear, which is delivered with an equally strong sense of conviction.

Surprised that this is such a hot topic? There are many theories as to when and why a baby should or should not get her first haircut. Some theories seem nonsense, others seem somewhat credible, while still others are based on cultural traditions or even religious beliefs.

One certainly extreme approach is to shave your baby’s head in his first days of life.

Shave a baby’s head?

Shaving a baby’s head is a ritual in several cultures: Hindu babies, for example, shave to remove undesirable features associated with past lives. Muslims will shave the infant’s head on the seventh day after a ritual sacrifice. Shaving a baby’s head is traditional in Korean and Thai families, and surely in other lesser-known cultures as well. Curiously, I have also read that it is a tradition in the Hispanic culture. However, I am from Spain and had never heard of it. Internet, are you lying to me? Well, maybe not, maybe it’s a very old tradition, maybe not in Spain. Who knows? Know?

Others do it for apparently scientific reasons. A widely held belief is that shaving a baby’s head will make her hair grow thicker and stronger (or faster). However, the truth is that because hair grows from follicles that lie below the surface of the skin on the head, cutting or shaving it will have no effect on hair follicle development. It may seem that way initially, but it’s not actually growing faster or stronger.

That’s not the only seemingly scientific reason to shave a baby’s head. Another theory states that this should be done for… cleanliness? According to this theory, cutting a baby’s hair helps cleanse the head of any dirt or grease left on the head after birth. Honestly, how about a shampoo instead? That sounds a lot less traumatic. I think it’s safe to say that you can ignore another “scientific” statement that the baby is at risk of speech delay if they get a haircut before the age of two. Those two issues couldn’t be less related to each other.

In conclusion, there are no scientific reasons to shave your baby’s head. However, you may have other motivations, such as following religious or cultural traditions.

So if you don’t shave your baby’s head, when will he get his first haircut?

In some cultures the answer is clear. For example, if you are an Orthodox Jew, you will wait until the male child is three years old and have his hair cut in a ceremony called Upsherinish.

Another milestone often referred to as an appropriate age for a haircut is the one year mark. Although many consider it a mandatory rule, it is as arbitrary as many others. We’ve heard that hairdressing insurance in the US doesn’t cover children until they are one year old, so that may be one of the reasons; If you cut your baby’s hair during the first year, you’ll probably have to do it yourself. On the other hand, you should be able to do just fine, and unless you have money to spare, you might as well.

We offer a different approach; Unless you follow a religious or cultural tradition, cut your baby’s hair for the first time based on the length of the hair, not the age of the baby. Basically when she needs it, no matter how old she is. Doesn’t it seem logical? Ask yourself questions like: Does it look really bad? Does long hair get into your eyes?

You’ve probably made it this far into the article because you’ve decided it’s time to give your baby a haircut for the first time. It’s also the first time you cut a baby’s hair. How do you do it?

Let’s start with two tips:

  1. Keep the tech bowl away, please. Bowls should not be used for this haircut. That’s cruel. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I mean the technique of putting a bowl on your child’s head and cutting off the edges. Please do not subject your child to this haircut!
  2. Time is critical. Wait for your window of opportunity. If your baby fell asleep sitting upright, you’d be in luck! It will never get easier than that. If you’re not so lucky, find a time when he’s more relaxed, perhaps watching a cartoon or quietly eating her favorite cookie.

You won’t need many tools for this operation. Arm yourself with:

  1. Small hair scissors. The bigger the scissors, the more dangerous…
  2. Spray bottle with water. Hair is easier to cut when wet and heavier.
  3. Comb

Start by stroking your baby’s head and stroking her hair while moistening it with the spray bottle (or your wet hand if that works better). After that, everything will be ready for the cutting operation. The goal is to be done with the actual cut in less than two minutes. With any luck, he’ll think you’re still stroking his hair.

Focus on the strands that have grown too long. Pull sections of hair between your fingers or comb and cut. Putting the comb or fingers between the scissors and the skin will prevent even cuts and, very importantly, cuts into the skin. Remember that you can always cut it shorter later. One too aggressive haircut and you will have to wait months before you like it again.

Good luck parents!


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