How to Trim Baby’s Nails Without Mishap

Cutting your baby’s lil’ claws are usually the last thing on your (lengthy) worry-list — yet when it comes time to actually do it, the moment is terrifying – wiggly appendages, tiny fingers and sharp implements can surely only mean disaster.

Holding baby's hand

But nail-clipping has to eventually happen; even though their nails are soft, babies can surprisingly scratch themselves up like they’re Scissorhands Jr., and skin infections are thus always a risk. So – how do you do it? Check out these expert tips to help you get over your phobia and keep your little one’s digits intact.

As soon as babs’ nails feel sharp, you need to trim them – and fingernails can grow quickly in the early days, so you may need to break out the mini mani set a few times per week.

Team up with your partner if you’re worried about wiggling. Whether you’re doing it solo or with help, make sure you’re in a well-lit area and have a firm grip on baby’s hand.

You can opt for clippers or nail scissors; just ensure you cut along the natural curve of the fingernail and straight across for toenails. “In both cases, be careful not to trim so short that you invade the nail bed,” says Pamela Schoemer, MD, a paediatrician at Children’s Community Paediatrics in western Pennsylvania. In other words, leave a bit of white.

There’s always a danger of cutting your baby’s finger – don’t freak out if you do, many a parent has survived the accidental nick (the babies, too). Molly Broder, MD, a paediatrician at Children’s Hospital at Montefiore in New York, advises to–

“Take a deep breath first, then wash the finger with soap and water, and apply pressure with a tissue or towel for a few minutes until it stops bleeding. There is no need for a bandage, as that can be a choking hazard.”

And if you’re way too concerned about potential bloodletting, go for filing instead. Soft emery boards may be tricky on newborns’ paper-thin nails, but electric files, while expensive, can do the job effectively (and safely).

Never tear or bite off fingernails; both can easily leave the nails too short, which can lead to painful ingrown nails which could become infected.

None of the healthcare practitioners mentioned in this blog endorse Infacol or any other medicine.