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The first time a new parent goes to trim their baby’s nails can be surprisingly nerve-racking. You are using a cutting tool extremely close to tiny, wiggly fingers with delicate skin. Just the thought of accidentally cutting those fingers can make you shudder. Fortunately, there are a few strategies that can make this task a little easier.

Many parents find it easiest to cut nails when their baby is asleep. That way, there is less change of wiggling and pulling. Gently press the pad of the finger away from the nail and cut along the curve of the finger. When trimming toes, cut the nail straight across to avoid ingrown nails. You can use an infant nail clipper or baby scissors. If nails need trimming while baby is awake, enlist the help of a friend to hold baby still while you get the job done.

If you end up with sharp corners on the nails, carefully file them smooth with an emery board. Some parents prefer to use only an emery board while the baby is very small to completely avoid any chance of cutting fingers instead of nails.

Many parents find it easiest to cut nails when their baby is asleep. That way, there is less change of wiggling and pulling.

Back in your grandparents’ day, mothers often bit off the soft fingernails, but this is not recommended. It is hard to tell how far down the nail is being taken off, and you can transfer germs that may cause infection or make your baby sick. Stick to using the proper tool for the job.

In the event that you accidentally cut the baby’s finger, wash the cut and apply pressure with a clean tissue until the bleeding stops. This should only take a couple of minutes. Do not use Band-Aids because they are likely to come off in the baby’s mouth, creating a choking hazard.

Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, January 2019

Takeaways

  • Many parents find it easiest to cut nails when their baby is asleep.
  • You can use an infant nail clipper or baby scissors.
  • Some parents prefer to use an emery board while the baby is very small.
  • If you accidentally cut the baby’s finger, wash the cut and apply pressure with a clean tissue until the bleeding stops.  Do not use band-aids. They can create a choking hazard.

References

  1. KidsHealth.org. Baby Basics Trimming Your Baby’s Nails.

Comments

  1. Sleeping baby does make it a lot easier but if your still nervous about it just think would u rather baby have a scratched face, brake a nail, and have to always wear mittens or would u rather take a chance and cut the nails. Don’t worry too much its not as scary as u might think as long as u do it while baby is sleeping.

    Reply
  2. One of the nurses at the hospital told me to bite her nails! Odd for a medical professional to suggest, I thought. In the end I took a deep breath and used the clippers. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, especially while she was sleeping 🙂

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  3. Is it bad that I bit them for the first year or so?! I was just too scared to cut them 🙂

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  4. I cut my son’s when he is sleeping because he moves way too much otherwise and I don’t want to hurt him. Still with his nails trimmed he loves to go for his face when he gets mad so I still use his little mittens to prevent painful scratches to his face 🙂

    Reply
  5. I was always terrified of trimming baby’s nails so that was hubby’s job! Haha.

    Reply

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