Whether your child is born with a full head of hair or is as bald as can be, there will come a time when he or she will be ready for that first haircut, an important milestone to mark off in your child's baby book. There's no doubt many young children are afraid of getting their first haircut. After all, they're draped in a cape, squirted with water and a stranger with scissors is talking to them.
If you have visions of your child kicking and screaming at the salon or barber shop, you can rest easy. Here are just some of the many places on Long Island that feature special incentives for kids of all ages, such as cars and trucks for kids to sit in, cartoons, movies, video games, toys and more. Most of them offer a little something extra for parents, too -- such as a keepsake certificate with a lock of hair for their first haircut.
Merrick, Roslyn and Huntington
Nintendo for the older kids. There are also kid-friendly cutting capes, toys and books for all to play with. After a haircut, kids receive a balloon and lollipop.
WORDS OF WISDOM "We try to make the kids feel like they are at home," says Terry Triolo, owner of the Merrick location. "That means happy, comfortable and fun." The stylists also have a ton of patience. "For some kids, getting their hair washed is scary, so we just wet their hair down and then cut," says Jennifer Caliendo, co-owner of the Roslyn and Huntington salons. "We even call the buzzer a 'tickle machine' and show them it doesn't hurt."
WHAT YOU'LL FIND Jeeps, motorcycles and Mini Coopers to sit in along with televisions playing Disney movies and cartoons. There's a play area with lollipops, toys, a kitchen set and video games for the older kids.
WORDS OF WISDOM Calm parents mean calm kids. "If you're relaxed, they will be relaxed," says owner Lia Todoran. "We have a lot of clients with special needs, and if the parents are relaxed it helps create a calm environment for the kids."
LOCATION 10 Willowdale Ave., Port Washington
INFO 516-767-7672; torisplace.com
WHAT YOU'LL FIND In addition to a Barbie jeep and a Lightning McQueen car to sit in, kids can watch a movie, play Nintendo DS or use the piano and other toys in the play area. After each haircut, your child can choose a lollipop, a toy from a basket and a sticker.
WORDS OF WISDOM "The biggest mistake some parents make is telling the stylist in front of their child that he or she is going to cry or hate it, which makes them cry or hate it," owner Valentina Hartman says.
LOCATION 24 Rockaway Ave., Valley Stream
WHAT YOU'LL FIND This 60-year-old barber shop features two old-fashioned cars to sit in, one blue and one red, perched in the front of the shop. Above each car, there's a TV playing cartoons along with superhero action figures and stuffed animals and other dolls. There's a large fish tank in the back of the shop that many kids flock to before and after a cut.
WORDS OF WISDOM Treat children with respect. "We greet the children with a 'hello, how are you?' which helps make them feel relaxed," owner Michael Uvaydov says. "And we always give the kids a high-five before cutting their hair." The lollipops help, too, he says.
LOCATION 1699 Route 112, Medford
WHAT YOU'LL FIND "We feature a playroom for kids to help them warm up to the new environment," owner Beth Cincimino says. "They're each allowed to bring a toy with them to hold while they're getting cut." Kids can choose their cutting capes and watch cartoons on TV, plus they'll get a lollipop before they leave.
WORDS OF WISDOM "Sometimes, we will cut their hair in the playroom if they won't sit in the chair. We will do whatever we can to make the kids comfortable," Cincimino says.
LOCATIONS 100 North Country Rd., Suite 2; Miller Place
INFO 631-331-4247; northcountrykids.net
WHAT YOU'LL FIND A big television playing movies and cartoons, toys, books and more. Children can choose their own cutting capes.
WORDS OF WISDOM Let kids be kids. "If your kid wants to bring a favorite toy or blanket from home, they're more than welcome to. It's all about keeping them comfortable -- after all, it's just a hair cut," owner Jennifer Kamine says.
WHAT YOU'LL FIND The kids area includes a police car, plane, pink jeep and a Lightning McQueen car to sit in, plus a TV playing movies and toys for them to play with. Children get a lollipop before they leave.
WORDS OF WISDOM "Bring your children with you a few times while you get your hair cut," owner Donnie Fuzailov says. "It's a great way to get them used to the environment, so it's not such a scary thing."
INFO 631-543-1100; vincentbrucesalon.com
PRICE $20 during the week, kids 12 and under; $25 on weekends
WHAT YOU'LL FIND A separate room for kids features a train and a small car to sit in, plus regular styling chairs for older kids as well as a television playing movies. There's also a soda machine and toys. If you want to save your child's lock of hair, they provide envelopes. Each child can choose a lollipop after a haircut.
WORDS OF WISDOM Know your children. "Let them come in and see the room, sit in the car and talk to the stylists before their actual hair cut, so they become familiar with the environment," owner Vincent Bruce says.
See more kid-friendly salons and barber shops on Long Island.