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Baby’s First Haircut – Why, When, 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 curiously contradicts the very 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 about when and why a baby should or shouldn’t have their first haircut. Some theories seem nonsensical, others seem somewhat plausible, while still others are based on cultural traditions or even religious beliefs.
One admittedly extreme approach is to shave your baby’s head in her first days of life.
Shave a baby’s head?
Shaving a baby’s head is a ritual in some cultures: Hindu babies, for example, are shaved to remove undesirable traits associated with past lives. Muslims shaved the baby’s head on the seventh day after a ritual sacrifice. Shaving a baby’s head is traditional in Korean and Thai families, and certainly in other lesser-known cultures as well. Interestingly, I also read that it is a tradition in the Spanish culture. However, I’m from Spain and 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? Do you know?
Others do it for seemingly scientific reasons. A well-held belief is that shaving a baby’s head will make her hair grow thicker and stronger (or faster). The truth is, however, that since hair grows from follicles that are below the scalp skin surface, cutting or shaving it will have no effect on hair follicle development. It may seem that way at first, but in reality it does not grow faster or stronger.
That’s not the only seemingly scientific reason to shave a baby’s head. Another theory claims that this should be done for… purity? According to this theory, cutting a baby’s hair helps to clean the head of any crust or fat left on the head after birth. Honestly, how about shampoo instead? That sounds a lot less traumatic. I think it’s safe to say that one can ignore another “scientific” claim that the baby is at risk of speech delay if her hair is cut before the age of two. Those two things could not be more unrelated 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 haven’t shaved 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 the hair will be 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 must-follow rule, it is as arbitrary as many others. We have heard that hairdressers insurance in the US will not cover children until they are one year old, so that may be one of the reasons; if you cut your baby’s hair in the first year, you will probably have to do it yourself. On the other hand, you should be able to do it well, 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 according to the length of the hair, not according to the baby’s age. Basically when she needs it, regardless of age. Doesn’t that seem logical? Ask yourself questions such as: Does it look really bad? Does the long hair get into their eyes?
You’ve probably made it this far in the article because you’ve decided it’s time to cut your baby’s hair for the first time. It’s also the first time you give a baby a haircut. How do you do it?
Let’s start with two tips:
- Keep the bowl technique away, please. No bowls are used for this hairstyle. That’s just cruel. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring to the technique of putting a bowl on your child’s head and cutting around the edges. Please do not subject your child to this hair!
- Time is crucial. Wait for your window of opportunity. If your baby sleeps sitting up straight, you’re in luck! It will never get any easier than that. If you are not so lucky, look for a time when he is most relaxed, perhaps watching a cartoon or quietly eating his favorite biscuit.
You will not need many tools for this operation. Arm yourself with:
- Small hair clippers. The bigger the scissors, the more dangerous…
- Spray bottle with water. Hair is easier to cut when it is wet and heavier.
Start by stroking your baby’s head and caress her hair while wetting 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 she’ll think you’re still just stroking her hair.
Concentrate on strands that have grown too long. Pull hair between your fingers or comb and cut. Placing your comb or fingers between the clippers and the skin will prevent uneven cuts and, very importantly, skin cuts. Remember you can always cut it shorter later. Too aggressive a haircut and you’ll have to wait months before you like it again.
Good luck parents!
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