In his three and a half years, Henry has only been to the barber twice. We decided when he was little that we’d just dive in and learn how to cut his hair. And I’m so glad we did! Over the years we’ve learned (sometimes the hard way, gulp) lots of tricks when it comes to how to give a toddler a haircut. So I thought it might be worth sharing!
After our first couple of visits to the barber with Henry, it just killed me to shell out 15 or 20 bucks every time he needed a shape up. So we invested in some decent scissors and clippers, along with a couple of other tools, and went for it. It’s a huge help if you’re going to try to cut your own child’s hair to take them to a stylist at least once, get the cut that you want, and then try to maintain that. We made a point to observe the stylist’s general technique for creating the style that Henry likes, so that we could recreate it at home. At this point, we haven’t been back to a barber shop for almost two years, and we cut his hair at home about once every six weeks to two months. To see photos and video of our process on how to give a toddler a haircut, read on! And please note, this is the only style Henry has ever rocked! So our tips are best used for a high and tight, military style cut. We get pretty close on the sides and back, and let his mop top go wild.
How to Give a Toddler a Haircut
Get the Right Tools
Start off by setting yourself up with the right tools. We use a simple hair clipper set like this one. (It’s important that you have one with different guide combs so you can get an even cut on the sides.) Also get a good pair of barber shears and a comb. And finally, we really love an umbrella cape like this one — it does a great job at catching the hair and keeping it away from clothes as you cut.
Also, it’s worth noting that we cut Henry’s hair completely dry. After some trial and error, we found that this was best for his hair. You might need to have a spray bottle nearby if you like to cut hair wet.
Nail the Location
For a long time, we cut Henry’s hair in the shower because it was an easy place to let the hair fall and rinse it down. These days we find it a lot easier to just go outside; if you have an outdoor location that makes sense for a haircut, it’s definitely the simplest for cleanup. We set him up on a little chair outside and get him comfortable; this is also one of the few times we let him watch something on one of our phones to distract him and keep him still.
Trim the Sides and Back
On Henry’s hair, we start the sides and lower back with a two on the clippers. Part and comb the top of the hair and separate the section that you’d like to stay long. If necessary, pin this hair at the top of the head to keep a clean part and delineate the short vs. the long sections. Starting from the bottom and moving upward, use the clippers with a #2 setting. Use short, upward strokes, pulling the clippers away from the head toward the top of your stroke to avoid any hard lines or shearing too closely. Trim all around the lower sides and lower back of the head this way. Then switch to a #3 setting and blend into the upper sides and toward the back of the crown. We like to leave a longer patch at the back of the crown, in the shape of a small upside-down triangle, so that the top blends into the back. We trim this later using scissors. As you trim, step back every so often and look for uneven spots.
Cut the Crown and Top
Using a comb and your scissors, take 1-inch sections of hair, parted from the front to the back of the head, and trim away the tips. Angle the scissors down toward the hair and snip the ends, rather than angling them horizontally and cutting off large blunt chunks. Do this all around the top until it’s the length you like. Use the scissors to carefully trim the long triangle you left at the back of the crown, blending it down into the shorter hair at the back.
After you finish your cut, step back, assess, and trim any bits that look uneven! We usually use this pomade to tame the top of Hank’s curly hair and keep it in place. Truly, once you get the hang of this cut it’s a piece of cake. If you can get your kiddo to let you practice a couple of times, you’ll never miss going to the barber. And hey, if you mess it up — kids’ hair grows quickly, right? 😉 xoxo