How to cut your baby’s nails (Video guide included)

Cut baby nail

Cutting a baby’s nails is an overwhelming idea for most new parents. It is terrifying to cut tiny nails from those dainty fingers. However, the nails of newborns grow quickly and can easily become long and sharp. Trimming your baby’s nails regularly will not only prevent them from scratching, but also prevent dirt from hiding in the nails.

Here are some useful tips that may help you get more clarity on how to cut your baby’s nails safely.

Why do I need to cut my baby’s nails?

Cutting a newborn baby’s nails is something that most new parents are not expecting much of. Yet, the challenging task is a part of newborn’s health and comfort care.

No parents want to wake up to their newborn with faces full of scratches and the culprits are those tiny fingers with long nails poking out.

Parents who are too scared to cut their baby’s nails may opt for baby mittens, but using these products may not be the final solution. Your baby may become uncomfortable wearing mittens after their nails start growing longer. As dreadful as it is to hold a pair of scissors near your baby, let alone using it to cut delicate baby nails, it is an important task that every parent must face. 

After all, cutting your baby’s nails might be one of the important baby milestones that new parents have to go through. So don’t fret! Inhale, and trim those tiny nails!

What is the best way to cut a baby’s nails?

cutting baby's nail

There is no perfect way to cut a baby’s nails. Parents may use different ways and means to find the most comfortable way of cutting their baby’s nails. What might have worked on other mothers and babies might not work on you, so it is important to discover what strategy may work for you and your baby.

Most of the time though, being careful helps. Grab a partner and get some help. While two brains certainly work better than one, four loving arms is a sound idea to make sure you can cut your baby’s nails safely and comfortably. When one person focuses on cutting the nails, the other person may hold the baby and keep them entertained so their fingers won’t keep on wiggling.

Some parents prefer to cut their baby’s nails while their precious ones are sleeping. It is also a great time to cut your baby’s nails while your partner is feeding.

Here is something to consider on how to cut your newborn baby’s nails:

  • Good Lighting:

Make sure that you cut your baby’s nails in a well-lighted room enough to see those tiny nails. You may do it on a terrace, or sit beside a lamp or a window.

  • Cut your baby’s nails after a bath: 

Baby’s nails are often softer after their bath, and softer nails are easier to cut or trim.

  • Find the most comfortable position:

Aside from adequate lighting, settle in the most comfortable place and position. A soft sofa bed where you can lay the baby down, or a chair where you can sit with the baby on your lap are some great nail-cutting positions!

  • Be ready with the right tools: 

Before you sit down, make sure you have all the important supplies with you. The cutting tool, a toy for older babies, or a bottle of milk in case you need to divert their attention.

  • Don’t force it: 

If you feel that your baby is feeling tense, try to do things that may relax the baby. If nothing works, just put back the mittens and try again later. There is always a right time for everything.

There are many ways to cut your baby’s nails, you just have to choose which one works for you and your little one.

1.How to cut your baby’s nails with scissors step by step

We do not recommend using adult nail clippers to cut your baby’s nails. Always look for the right baby-nail-clippers. There are special types of scissors with rounded edges that are made especially for babies. Here are the steps on how to cut your newborn’s nails:

  • First, hold your baby’s palm steady. Get a firm hold of the finger and press the finger pads down and away from the nail to make sure you won’t cut skin.
  • Next, follow the curve of the fingernail while making sure that you are not going too low. Keep the cuts short and just above the white nail line. Do it slowly and a little cut at a time.
  • Remember not to cut the edges as they may cause ingrown nails. To smoothen sharp edges, use an emery board.
  • Lastly, remove the dirt under your baby’s nails with water and a cloth. Lukewarm water is more preferable. Afterward, dry the baby’s fingertips and palms with clean dry clothes.

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2.Cutting your baby’s nails using clippers

Clippers are the most instinctive choice because of how easy it is to use. There are small clippers specialized for babies available on the market. The steps to cut your baby’s nails with scissors are almost the same as those while using clippers.

Filing your baby’s nails

Though some reports said that it is not necessary to trim babies’ nails using files, some extra-careful parents still use them since it is the safest way to cut babies’ nails.

What to avoid when cutting your baby’s nails

Don’t cut your baby’s nails by nibbling on them. Dr. Fisher warns parents of the possible negative health consequences when you nibble on your baby’s finger. The germs from your mouth may cling to the baby’s fingers which later on be transferred to the baby’s mouth. Bacterial infection will then be waving at you and your baby. Also, nibbling on your baby’s nails may leave an uneven cut on the nails which may cause scratches on the baby’s face.

What if I cut my baby’s fingers?

In case you accidentally cut your baby’s skin while cutting the nails, do not panic. Look for a clean damp cloth and apply pressure on the bleeding area. The bleeding should stop soon. You may then clean the wound with clean water and let it dry. A bandage or a plaster is generally not advised because they are choking hazards. 

Nonetheless, if you are anxious and unsure of your baby’s safety after cutting his skin, you may opt to see a doctor. A quick call to your pediatrician may solve the case. However, if you have cut a lot of skin and the bleeding doesn’t stop, immediate medical attention is needed.

How old does your baby have to be to cut their nails?

baby's nail

While it is true that a newborn’s nails grow quickly, their nails stick closely to the skin of their fingers and are difficult to cut. More often, their soft nails normally wear down as they come into contact with their clothes or anything that touches their nails. 

It is therefore advisable to put on baby mittens in the beginning. As the baby ages a few weeks, the nails become stronger than a baby nail clipper becomes necessary. Most parents wait for a couple of weeks, like three to four, before cutting their baby’s nail.

How often do I have to cut my baby’s nails?

As to how often and what time should a baby’s nails be cut, there is no advised specific time. It is the parents’ task to observe and check if the baby’s nails need cutting. 

Some pediatricians from MedlinePlus recommend cutting babies’ nails once a week because their nails grow faster than that of the adults. Toenails, on the other hand, don’t grow as quickly as that of fingernails, thus, they require less maintenance and therefore should be cut less frequently. As advised by experts from Baby Week, a baby’s toenails can be cut once or twice every month.

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Cubo Ai

Smart Baby Monitor, bird, techie, baby guru, and sleep-safety enthusiast. Cubo has a keen eye for detail, loves baby photography, and never sleeps on the job. You can find Cubo in thousands of nurseries around the world and here on the blog helping parents learn more about the topics they care about.