Cutting Kids' Hair At Home: 7 Tips for a Successful Style

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When I was little, my parents used to lay out old newspapers on the patio, sit us down in a chair and snip snip at our hair till we came out, more often than not, halfway presentable. Contrary to popular lore, it wasn't a particularly traumatizing experience. My brothers always had cute little boy haircuts and I, at most, had a little hair trimmed off my scraggly ends. I don't think my parents ever even considered paying somebody to cut our hair. Nowadays, with little girls barely out of diapers being treated to spa mani-pedis, I wonder if I'm some kind of extreme do-it-yourselfer when I insist on saving the $20 (plus tip) it would cost to cut my sons' hair in a salon and just cut their hair myself.

unhappy haircut

But no, cutting my kids' hair at home really is so easy that it's silly to shell out money to have somebody else do it for me. (Besides, kids' hairstyles shouldn't be so precious that I -- or you -- can't afford to make a few mistakes here and there. They're kids, not celebrities or CEOs.) Sure, the first couple times were a little nerve-wracking, but with two little boys whose hair grows like it's going out of style, it hasn't taken me long to feel pretty confident with a pair of scissors.

If you've thought about cutting your little one's hair, but aren't quite sure where to start, here are a few tips to get you on your way:

1. Sit them down in their highchair, if possible. Unless your kid is super obedient and not at all prone to sudden, unannounced dashes across the room, having your little one strapped into a familiar chair will signal to them that they need to stay put just like they (hopefully? possibly?) do when they're eating dinner.

2. Think about the surface underneath you. Carpet/rugs are probably not going to be your friends for this project. Tile, wood floors, or a flat surface outdoors are all going to be much better choices. And go ahead and lay out newspaper if you want even easier clean-up afterward.

3. Do let them watch their favorite show. We're kind of, um, strict about media-consumption in our house so my older son in particular will agree to almost anything if we let him watch a show or play with our iPhones. The iPhone works perfectly for haircuts because he can still follow the screen even if I need him to look down.

4. If that doesn't work, try some other incentive. Seriously, candy and ice cream are allowed! When you go to a kids' hair salon, they do all these same things -- Disney movies in the TV sets, lollipops at the checkout, fun toys to play with before and after to help make the experience more enjoyable (i.e. serve as potential bribes to desperate parents).

5. Do have the right supplies. You'll need a spray bottle with water, a towel to put around their shoulders, a comb and a pair of hair scissors. Optional supplies include thinning shears, a cape (or a garbage bag with a few holes cut out of it for the head and arms) and a brush, especially if you're cutting longer hair. Hair scissors can be bought at any drugstore and, although professional-quality scissors can cost hundreds of dollars, home cutters will do just fine with a pair around $20. And hopefully they'll last you a long, long time. Generations even. My set of hair cutting scissors and thinning shears belonged to my grandmother who bought them in the 70s from her local drugstore.

6. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. My kids are still really young so they don't really care how they look. If anything, I'm the only one who really cares. But honestly, I'm not looking for my kids to look like Maddox or Suri. And after a few go-rounds, I've been really happy with the haircuts I've given my kids. (It doesn't hurt that they're cute pretty much no matter what.) But do be extra careful around their ears. Those scissors are super sharp.

7. Turn to the Internet for help. I didn't do this before I started, but if I had I might have avoided the virtual bowl cut that was my sons' first haircut. There are a ton of great how-to videos on the internet. Watch a couple.

I promise, cutting your child's hair really, really is not that hard. It usally takes me about 10-15 minutes to cut my boys' hair and typically involves less drama than bath time.

You can find Nina Moon at Sweet Disarray.

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