We have seen a lot of little girls with shaven heads – little boys, too, but it’s not so noticeable for boys. The reason, we are told, is that there is a Mongolian “first haircut” ritual and ceremony, about age 3-5 for a girl and 2-4 for a boy. All of the relatives are invited to the home, a lama is invited to recite prayers for good health and a happy life, and each member of the family in turn clips a little bit of the “baby hair.” Some of them, especially grandmothers, bundle it and save it. Then the rest of the hair is shaved off. Following that, the child gets a lot of presents and attention.
Apparently the idea is to strengthen the hair, by letting it grow out and then cutting it, so that the hair will come in nice and strong from that point on.
Both of my Mongolian colleagues said they had done it with their own children although they consider themselves “nonreligious.” But one of them did not have a big affair, just immediate family – and a lama.