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Trimming Baby's Nails

Your newborn's fingernails grow quickly just after birth, so you'll probably need to trim them every two or three days during those first three weeks. After that, his or her nails will harden and grow more slowly, but you'll still need to trim them at least once a week to protect you and your baby from sharp corners.

The easiest and safest time to trim your baby's nails is when she is in deep sleep. You can tell your baby is in deep sleep when her arms and legs hang limply and her hands are wide open. Your baby's nails will also be softest just after a warm bath, so try giving your baby a bath before bed, and then trimming her nails after she falls asleep. Another good time to trim your baby's nails are during breastfeeding when she is so focused on eating, she won't notice you fussing with her hands - use a Boppy pillow to support his body so your hands are free.

If you must trim them while your baby is awake, get someone to help you distract her or hold her arm still so you decrease the chance you'll nick her finger. Always trim your baby's nails in a well-lighted area so you can see what you're doing. Some infant nail clippers even come with a tiny magnifying glass so you can see your baby's tiny nails better.

Some pediatricians recommend peeling a baby's nails off with your teeth or fingers, but peeling can inadvertently take off too much of the nail and nibbling can transfer germs from your mouth to her skin. It's best to use nail clippers especially made for baby's tiny hands. Press your baby's finger pad away from the nail to avoid nicking the skin and keep a firm hold on your child's hand as you clip. Trim the nail in one motion along the curve of the finger instead of cutting the nail straight across or with three short clips - these methods can leave sharp edges. It's also best to leave a little bit of white on your baby's nail to prevent cutting down to the quick. If your baby will let you (and you have the patience) you can also use an emery board to file your baby's nails down.

If you do nick your baby's skin (and trust me, everyone does at some point or another), wrap a sterile gauze pad around your baby's finger, apply gentle pressure, and hold it above her heart. The bleeding should stop in a minute or two. Resist the temptation to put a bandage on her finger; it could come off when he puts her hand in her mouth and she could choke on it. Instead, try using a liquid bandage that is approved for children. These products are nontoxic, dry quickly, and slough off with the dead skin cells when the wound is healed.

A baby's toenails grow more slowly than fingernails, so you only need to trim them once or twice a month; but keep an eye out for sharp edges or snags that can catch on blankets and scratch little legs. Once your baby starts wearing shoes, you'll need to trim toenails more often.



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