Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support
Sensory Processing Disorder Parent Support

Sensory Friendly Haircutting Tips  

Children with sensory differences ... painting the world beautiful.    

Sensory Friendly Haircutting Tips

Jeanette Loftus

hairstylist giving hair cut to a child who has sensory processing disorder Sensory Friendly Haircutting Tips
Most of us parents who have children with sensory differences know and understand how challenging haircuts can be for our children.

Haircuts do not need to be as challenging and intimidating as they are. There are many tools and ideas to assist you to help your child get through haircuts a lot easier.

Here are over 40 sensory friendly haircutting tips and ideas to help you along the way.
This is a very big list. You don't have to do every suggestion or idea.

These are just some ideas that may be helpful for you and your child. Do what works for your child and is best for you.

1. When cutting your child's hair at home you can also do a little at a time. Plan a weekend hair cut. A weekend at home when you can do a few trims here and there until it is completed.

2. Ask your child if they would prefer to stand or sit during their hair cut. You want them to feel comfortable and in a position that feels most relaxing to them.

3. Ask to have an exact time for your child's appointment. This will cut down on wait times that can cause anxiety for your child while they are waiting. This will avoid a sensory meltdown.

4. Swimming goggles during hair washing and cutting can make things go a lot smoother.

5. Get to know your hair stylist and explain ahead of time your child's struggles and fears.

6. Ear plugs for kids that are sensitive to noise or water in their ears.

7. Have your child meet your hair stylist before their hair cut. It is always easier for your child to know who is going to be cutting their hair before their appointment.

8. Bring a change of clothes because a child with Autism or Sensory Processing Disorder may not like the feel of their hair on there bodies and clothes. When their hair cut is finished it can feel itchy and they may want to change there clothes.

9. When your child doesn't like having their hair brushed there's several brushes that can make it so much easier for them. Have them choose a brush that feels good for them and you can even take it along to the salon with you. Knot Genie & Wet Brush are the most popular.

10. Have fun with it! There's so many apps that they can have on their iPads that they can add their photo and try many different styles and colors and will make it more fun for your child. Play along and add your photo for different styles too.
11. Ask the hair stylist if your child can touch and look through her tools. (safe ones)
12. Have you tried unscented shampoos? These can be great for children who are sensitive to smells. They are fragrance free kids shampoo. Sometimes it can take trying a few to find one that your child isn't sensitive too. Wash your child's hair at home before going to the hair stylist to have their hair cut. This will not only cut down on the time at the hair salon but also make it a lot less stressful. for both of you. You can also bring your own shampoo with you to the salon too.
13. The words we use can change everything because some children hear the word "cut" and they are fearful. Try using a less scary or worrisome word like grooming.   
child with sensory processing disorder brushing her hair Ideas To Make Haircuts easier for Children Who have Sensory Processing Disorder
14. Bring their iPad with their favorite apps for distraction. The less focused they are on their haircut the easier time will pass by for them. A portable DVD player playing one of their favorite movies is also a great distraction too.
15. When making your appointment take your child with you. Let them have a mini tour to prepare them that it is not scary. Explain how cool things are there and how fun it is going to be. Show them different tools and seeing others also having hair cuts.
16. Calming Clippers Haircutting Kit for Sensory Sensitivity! For sensitive kids, buzzing clippers are too much to handle and a visit to the barbershop can end in a meltdown.
This quiet alternative to electric clippers allows anyone to give relaxed haircuts at home!
17. It could be beneficial to also let your child touch hair. Hair samples that you see at the hair salon make a great tactile fidget while they become more familiar with the feel of hair touching their skin.
18. YouTube have many videos of hair cuts. A great visual for a child to see different hair cuts by different people to reassure them that they will be safe and that they can do it too. It allows them to be more prepared.
19. Books for children that are about hair cuts can be quite useful as well. Using social stories for hair cuts could also be very helpful too. This is a great way to prepare them.
20. Take breaks. Having a break during your child's haircut to go for a walk, walk through a store close by or even have an ice cream to ease some stress.
21. Take along a sensory fidget box for your child. Ask your child to choose their own fidgets. Keep there hands and minds busy and not so focused on the hair cut.
22. Ask your hair stylist when their shop is most quiet and not as busy. Booking a time for your child when there's less people could be very helpful. There's less distractions and noises that could trigger a sensory meltdown.
23. Plan to have your hair cut first and then your child can have there's after you. Make a date. A fun day for both parent and child. The most difficult times are so much easier when you have someone to experience it with you and support you through it.
24. Make your hair stylist chair a fun place to sit. If your child is like mine, they will enjoy a spin or two around in the chair during or before a hair cut.
25. If your child is sensitive to sounds or doesn't like the buzzing vibration sensations from clippers then you can request not to use clippers and use scissors only because this can be extremely overwhelming and scary for children with Sensory Processing Disorder and Autism.
26. Try trimming your child's hair while they are having a bath. The warm water, Epsom salts, and bubbles could be more relaxing for them. Fill the bath with their favorite toys and while they play, you can cut their hair. This way, the itchy hair falls into the bath tub. Using bath foam and bath crayons are sensory diet activities and a great way to distract them too.
27. Try trimming their hair while they are sleeping. Difficult yes, but the easiest and only way for many.
28. Rewards. Hair cuts can be difficult for children and even more challenging for children who are sensitive and have Sensory Processing Disorder or Autism. A treat, small toy or a trip the park after they have had there hair cut can also be encouraging.
29. Turn on a movie in the living room and as they watch the movie try to cut it. Sit them on a towel on the floor or place a towel around their favorite chair but first always explain what you are about to do so they are prepared and there's no surprises.
30. Plastic capes can feel rough for sensitive children who have Sensory Processing Disorder or Autism. If they don't like the feel of a plastic cape then you can always try a larger towel. If they don't mind the cape, try a kid friendly one with something on it that they would love.
31. Role playing is also helpful. Act out each step of getting a hair cut. Driving to the salon, walking into the salon, greeting the hair stylist, walking over to the chair, getting into the chair and having a hair cut. Breaking down the steps and acting it out will prepare your child for the experience.
32. Most of our kids love YouTube! Search some YouTube videos of children having their hair cut too. Find videos of other children enjoying their hair cut and having a fun experience.
33. You want your child to be comfortable. Try using a wiggle seat or a sensory cushion for your child. They will help your child reduce stress and stay calm. There are some really fun hair cut booster seats too that are now available to make it ore fun for kids.
34. Choose a time during the day that is the least challenging for your child. When they are their calmest and most relaxed.
35. Did you know that there are mobile hair stylist? Search for one in your area if you are not comfortable cutting their hair yourself or if it is too challenging to take your child to a salon.
36. If your child has a sensory diet recommended by their Occupational Therapist (OT) such a brushing and joint compressions, sensory breaks or heavy work activities, try to include sensory diet activities before attempting a hair cut.
37. Using a visual schedule can be very helpful to prepare your child for a hair cut. Transitioning to and from. Reminders when the hair cut is going to happen. What will happen before after and during their hair cut.
38. Bring your child's weighted blanket.
39. Bring a weighted lap pad for pressure therapy before, during and even after your child's hair cut.
39. Try cutting your child's hair at home. YouTube also has a ton of tutorials to help you learn to cut your child's hair at home. Here are a few examples for boys and girls hair cuts.
41. Ask your child if they would like to bring a timer. Set to an estimated time. Using a timer allows your child to see how long their hair cut will take. It's best to choose a visual timer for children who have Sensory Processing Disorder or Autism and are sensitive to sounds. Timers with quiet operation options.
42. Use Social Stories to explain the process of getting a hair cut so they are prepared and know what to expect. This will cut down on anxiety.
43. You can always try quiet buzzing clippers for home hair cuts too. Designed to be quiet.
44. Start going to the salon as part of your routine. Every 2-4 weeks or as needed and preferred. Try to be as consistent as possible. If the routine is the same as you prepared them for and familiar then it will cut down on sensory meltdowns and make hair cuts a more positive experience for not only your child but you too.
45. Try using the same hair stylist each time so that your child is familiar with them and their salon. 

Sensory Friendly Haircut Tools 


Knot Genie Sensory Brush

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Sensory Calming Clippers Kit 

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Wet Brush Detangling Sensory Brush 

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Haircut For lion Book 

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Calming Vibration Self Regulation Tool
Sensory Calming Wands

Calming Vibration Self Regulation Tool 

Learn More

Ratty Gets a Haircut Book 

Learn More

Dinosaur Haircutting cape for Children 

Learn More

Quiet Baby Haircutting clippers for Children 

Learn More

Cape for Children for Hair Salon Haircuts 

Learn More
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DISCLAIMER: I am not an Occupational Therapist. I am an adult who has Sensory Processing Disorder, a sensory parent and a Grandma. The information on this website is not medical advice and does not replace the information that your child's therapists gives you. These are just ideas and information that I have learned myself over the years of being a parent and an adult living with SPD. If you are concerned for your child, please always seek medical attention through a family doctor, pediatrician or therapist. This website is for suggestions and informational purposes only. Each child is different and what works for one child may not for another because all children have different needs. Please always consult with a professional. Amazon offers a small commission on products sold through their affiliate links on my website.  Each of your purchases through links on my website for Amazon affiliation links or sponsored links support me but no additional cost to you so thank you. I appreciate it so much!