Clipping Baby Nails: Tips To Do It Carefully

Clipping Baby Nails

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Do you get scratch marks on your skin every time you hold or play with your baby? If yes, you need to clip your baby’s nails. Although tiny, babies’ nails grow longer as they age and should be clipped to prevent the baby from scratching themselves or others accidentally.

The task may be simple, but when it’s time to clip, it can be nerve-wracking. Here, MomJunction guides you in cutting your baby’s nails safely.

Do A Baby’s Nails Require Clipping?

Yes. Just like adults, even a baby’s nails grow long. In fact, a newborn baby’s nails grow surprisingly fast. So, to keep the infant’s nails clean and to prevent the baby from hurting himself or others with long nails, you need to clip his nails regularly.

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What Is The Best Time To Clip Baby’s Nails?

The best time to clip a baby’s nails is when he is asleep or distracted by a feeding (1). A baby’s nails are usually soft so you can trim them any time, but they are softer right after a bath.

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[ Read: How To Treat Baby Ingrown Toenail ]

What Do You Need To Clip Baby’s Nails?

You will need the following items to prepare yourself:

  1. Baby nail clipper or scissor: You can use either since both are specially made for clipping an infant’s nails. Baby nail scissors have a rounded tip to prevent you from accidentally poking the baby. Baby nail clippers feature a narrower tip for the tiny fingernails.
  1. Baby nail filer: In newborns, you could get the job done by filing the nail short. Nail filers also smoothen the rough edges after clipping.
  1. Tissue papers and sterile cotton balls: They are needed for emergencies, in case you nick the baby’s skin with the clipper or scissors. Hold the cotton to the wound until the blood stops.

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How To Clip The Baby’s Nails?

Here is how you must clip your baby’s nails (2):

  1. Rest the baby on his back, on a soft surface that is almost the same level as your chest. An ideal spot would be the corner of the bed, while you sit on a small stool close to the baby. It brings the baby’s hands conveniently close to you so that you can hold his hands straight. Avoid cribs or bassinets where you need to stretch in to reach the baby’s hands or will have to pull the baby’s hands towards you. Check for the size of the nails. If you feel they are not very long, then filing can do. File along the edge that extends beyond fingertip.
  1. Hold the hand such that the baby’s fingertips face away from you so that you know how far you need to trim the baby’s nails.
  1. Gently hold the baby’s fingertip between your index finger and thumb. Move the pad of the skin away from the fingernail so that you do not accidentally cut it.
  1. Clip along the curve of the nail straightly. Avoid touching the nail bed and trim only the nail that extends beyond the fingertip. If you are using baby nail scissors, then make sure that skin is not getting between the blades, before snipping.
  1. Follow the same steps for the rest of the fingernails. Be extra careful with the little finger since its nail is really thin.
  1. After clipping, use a nail filer to smoothen out the rough edges.

Finally, use a tissue paper to wipe the baby’s fingertips to remove any debris. The same steps can be followed to trim the baby’s toenails.

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[ Read: How To Clean Baby’s Teeth ]

How To Cut The Baby’s Nails Without Clippers?

If you do not want to use clippers to trim the baby’s nails, then use a filer. Regular filing of nails prevents excess growth and removes the need for a clipper. Experts state that filing is the safest way to keep a baby’s nails short. Stick to manual filers since electronic filers can be abrasive and damage the baby’s soft nails.

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What If You Accidentally Nick Your Baby’s Fingertip?

Here is what you can do if you nick the skin near the fingertips:

  • If there is bleeding, hold sterile cotton ball on the wound to stop the blood.
  • Then gently wipe the fingertip with a tissue paper to remove any partially-broken nails.
  • You can apply a baby-safe disinfectant liquid on the cut. If you feel the cut is too big, then take the baby to a doctor to get the wound dressed.
  • Later, clean the nail clipper, or scissors with a cotton ball dipped in an antiseptic liquid to prevent the accumulation of germs on the clipper/scissors.

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How Often Should You Clip The Baby’s Nails?

You may have to clip a baby’s fingernails once in a week, and toenails twice in a month, although it is good to check the length once every week (3) (4).

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Tips To Clip A Baby’s Nails

Here are some suggestions for clipping your baby’s nails correctly:

  • Ensure that there is adequate lighting on the baby’s hands or feet. Use a focused table lamp to brighten the area.
  • Avoid clipping nails when the baby is sick or fussy. Clipping can add to the baby’s stress.
  • Never use full-size scissors and adult nail clippers, as they are not meant for tiny nails and can injure the baby.
  • Never bite a baby’s nails to cut them. Biting is not the right way of trimming a baby’s nails and can lead to injuries.
  • Take the help of your partner to distract the baby. Take your partner’s help and plan the activity when both of you are at leisure.
  • Using the correct tools and taking precautions make it easy to cut your baby’s nails. As the baby grows older, their nails also grow larger, which makes clipping them easier. But until then, you need to do it with utmost care even if you are reluctant or scared to do.

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[ Read: How To Burp A Baby? ]

Do you have any tips for clipping a baby’s nails easily? Share them in our comments section.

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