Quick Tip ~ No Whine Haircuts

After the scream-fest that was Ben's first haircut as a mere one year old, I decided to cut his hair from that point forward.  I paid close attention to the woman who was working her magic on my howling babe so that I would be able to do it.  I'm no expert - the poor kid has seen some pretty scary 'do's.  But hey, I guess you sometimes get what you pay for ;)

I'm thankful that he's no longer an 18 month old (and has the ability to sit still for no longer than 24 seconds).  It makes it much easier now that he has some self control.  But still..."Are you almost done?", "Done now?", "NOW are you done?", "How much longer?" is the extent of our conversation.

I finally got wise and started trying to make it a touch more interesting for him.  Some of the little tricks that work for me are:

1.  Toss a vinyl table cloth down on the floor and cut his hair in front of the TV in the living room so he can watch a show.

2.  When the weather is nice, grab a stool and let him sit on it in the grass in the backyard.  The neighbor kids got wind of what was going on, and they came down to see what it was all about.  He was very proud to be the center of attention and showed slightly more restraint.  Promises of popsicles and playing with the garden hose after his haircut help too.

3.  When our toddler is up and about, we can't do the haircut in the living room.  Instead, I grabbed the portable DVD player (which we use to keep everyone sane on our long trips to Wisconsin), popped in Star Wars, and snipped away.

4.  Give him a mirror to hold so that he can see what I'm doing up close.

5.  Give him a hard candy to suck on and make it a game to see if I can finish his cut before the candy is done (he's not allowed to chew).  A sucker works too, but you'll likely have to rinse hair off the sucker from time to time...yuck.  BTW - only do this trick with kids old enough to know better than to try and swallow the candy whole. 

6.  I haven't tried this one yet, but I think I will next time.  Since Ben is always interested lately in saving money for the latest thing on his wish list, I have a game in mind.  I'll tell him that I'll pay him $2 for being patient while I cut his hair.  However, for every time he utters certain words, I'll take away a dime.  Some words might be "hair", "done", "almost"...and some random words just for fun.  And then I'll do my best to engage him in conversation and see if I can trip him up a little bit.  The key will be to make it fun, instead of like a punishment every time he speaks  (This might work on long road trips too).

7.  For my little Thomas who is only 18 months old (and can't yet sit still and isn't interested in TV), I plop him up on the bathroom counter.  He's sitting right in front of the big bathroom mirror, and gets a kick out of watching (for about 20 seconds).  When that grows old, he plays with the little jars of cotton balls, q-tips, and hair bands.  I have to work quick, but those little distractions buy me some extra time. (Don't forget to take him off the counter if you have to step away for a moment - those little guys move fast!) 

I've also found that just putting the plastic cape on the 18 month old buys me several minutes because that's how long it takes the poor little guy to figure out how to get his hands out from under the cape so he can explore all those fun jars!  

Some other miscellaneous tips for making the experience a little less painful:
1.  Wet the hair thoroughly to minimize those itchy little hairs flying all over.
2.  Let the child be in control of a soft brush or wash cloth to use on his face, neck, or ears when they get tickled by the hair.  
3.  Tell him what you're doing each step along the way so that he's not surprised.  "Okay, I'm going to go around your ear now", "I'll just snip the front a little bit", "Look down at your tummy so I can get your neck, please", etc.
4.  Let him feel the clippers on his hand before using it on his head.  Ben likes to feel it each time we do a haircut to remind himself that I'm not going to cut his ear off :)

Do you have any good ideas for making a haircut more pleasant for your child?  Please share!

Beth in NC  – (3/25/2009 06:01:00 AM)  

You are the queen of idea on this subject. Too cute!

I don't have any wisdom to offer.


Jennifer  – (3/25/2009 10:43:00 AM)  

Those are great tips! Thanks for sharing. My little one is 18 months old too and I laughed out loud as I imagined little hands trying to escape the cape to get at the "toys" LOL!

Jennifer (Niffer)  – (3/25/2009 03:27:00 PM)  

that's just what i do with my boys (4 & 18mos) but i totally forgot about getting out our laptop for a movie to distract him! great post!

Raise Them Up  – (3/25/2009 06:39:00 PM)  

Great ideas! I've been cutting my three boys' hair for the last 6 years. I get the same questions as you do.

We usually turn the TV way up and they sit in the kitchen where they can still see. It does help.

The only thing I don't think you mentioned was to use a little talc powder on the brush or wash cloth to help keep the hair from sticking to little sweaty necks. :)

* Nancy *  – (3/26/2009 12:00:00 AM)  

Awesome tips! Thanks for sharing.

Frugal Sara  – (3/26/2009 01:15:00 PM)  

Great tips. I will have to try some of these. My 2 year old hates getting his hair cut. Hubby usually has to strap him down for me to cut it! Thanks for the ideas.

Anonymous –   – (3/27/2009 04:17:00 PM)  

When my boys were little (it seems like a hundred years ago) I had been known to cut their hair while they were asleep. If Dad was home, I'd let them nap in Dad's arms and together we would manuever his head to get the haircut. It's a good thing he was a sound sleeper. I even remember doing this while he slept in the playpen, with me leaning over the rail to cut it!

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