Keeping Every Bit of Baby Clean and Cared For

Cutting Baby's Nails

When To Cut Your Baby's Nails

If you're a new parent, you're probably feeling rather apprehensive about cutting your baby's nails. After all, those nails are so tiny and the idea of accidentally cutting your baby's finger is enough to put many parents off attempting that first nail trim! Babies' nails grow very quickly however, and some babies are born with long fingernails, especially if they are overdue. Babies can easily scratch themselves when excitedly waving their hands around, or claw their delicate faces during sleep. New parents however, needn't fret. It's actually best not to cut your baby's nails until they are at least 4 weeks old, as newborn babies nails are extremely soft with a papery texture, and it can be difficult to tell nail apart from skin at this age. Putting scratch mittens on your baby will stop him accidentally scratching his delicate face and eyes.

When your baby's nails have hardened a little, you can carefully trim them. Try using special nail scissors designed for babies, which have rounded ends to minimise nicking baby's soft skin. Some parents find gently peeling the nail off works well, if the nail is already coming away from the rest of the nail. Other parents like to gently nibble the nail off! If you're nervous about using scissors to cut your baby's nails, you could use an emery board. This takes longer than cutting the nails, and some babies won't sit still for long enough for you to do it, but it avoids the possibility of nicking your baby's little fingertips and doesn't leave any sharp edges for your baby to scratch himself with.

How To Do It

Hold your baby's hand steady with one hand, supporting each finger or toe in turn as you trim the nail. Hold the scissors with your other hand. Gently press the skin down so you can access the nail more easily. Never cut down the lengths of the nail, as this could cause ingrown nails. Cut straight across for toenails, and follow the natural shape of the nail for fingernails. A good position to cut your baby's nails is to have your baby on your lap, with the back of his head against your chest, although if your baby squirms while you attempt to cut his nails, you might find it easier if a partner holds your baby while you trim. Alternatively, you could place your baby in their baby seat while you trim their nails, or do it while they are feeding or sleeping.

If you accidentally graze your baby's skin (this is quite common when trimming babies' nails), gently apply pressure to the cut with a clean, moist piece of cotton wool to stop the bleeding. Don't put a plaster on it, as babies can choke on these.

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This internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult a doctor or other healthcare professional.