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Clipping Your Baby's Nails

Baby sleeping.

Did you know that fingernails grow an estimated 0.1 mm each day? Your baby's nails may be softer than yours but they are still sharp. A newborn has very little control over body reflexes and can unintentionally scratch herself and others. Keeping your newborn's nails groomed can be a very demanding task for parents. Boys Town Pediatrics explains how to trim infant nails and keep their cute faces safe from scratches!

Baby Trimming Time

Always make sure to have plenty of time and enough light before you clip. Press your baby's finger pad away from the nail to avoid nicking the skin, and keep a firm hold on your baby's hand as you clip. Cut fingernails along the curve of the finger and cut toenails straight across. An emery board can be used to help smooth any sharp edges.

  • When. Check your baby's nails every couple of days to see if they're getting long or sharp. Little fingernails grow fast so you may have to cut her nails anywhere from once to several times a week. Toenails require less frequent trimmings.
  • Baby Tools. The best tools to use are a very thin pair of manicure scissors, baby scissors or clippers made especially for tiny fingers.
  • Best Time. The best time to clip nails is when she is sleeping–especially if she tends to be a wiggler. Another good time is after a bath when your baby's nails are softest. If you decide to clip nails while she's awake, ask your partner or a friend to hold her, distract her and keep her from wiggling too much.
  • Germs. Some parents may bite their baby's nails into shape but this could introduce germs from the mouth into any cuts on fingers.

If you do nick a tiny fingertip, rinse the cut under cool water, then wrap a tissue around your baby's finger and hold it with a little pressure until the bleeding stops. Do not use any bandages because she may accidentally choke or swallow the item. Liquid forms of bandages are also not recommended for babies or toddlers because they may suck on or ingest the liquid. If your child has a wound that doesn't stop bleeding, contact your pediatrician.