advice

clippers and nippers:
how to cut your baby’s nails

Babies' nails grow surprisingly fast, and because they've been growing in the womb, some are even born with long, scratchy claws. Sooner or later, cutting baby nails is necessary to make sure they don't scratch themselves at night. At first, you may find you need to trim fingernails more than once a week, while slower-growing toenails need a snip a couple of times a month.

what to use

Your baby's hands are so small and delicate that it's natural to feel daunted about going near them with scissors. In the early days, their nails are so soft you can simply peel off the ends. If you prefer, use baby nail scissors or clippers with safely rounded ends[1] . Or you can simply file them down with a nail file or emery board.

learn how to cut a baby's nails

how to trim baby nails

If you do decide to use scissors, be careful to only trim the edges off and not go down to the quick. Cutting too low will cut your baby's finger, leading to tears and a risk of infection. If in doubt, it's best to leave more of the nail behind. It helps to hold their hand firmly, and press the finger pad away from the nail so you can see what you’re trimming. Then cut around the curve of their fingernail, or straight across if you're doing their toes.

mistakes to avoid

It's not a good idea to cut down the sides of the fingernails or toenails: cutting them this way can cause nasty ingrown nails. Try to avoid probing the nail away from the quick, as it can cause an infection.

trim baby’s nails while they sleep

With all the practise you're going to get from trimming more than once a week, you'll soon be a baby mani-pedi champ. Try to work it into your regular routine with your baby and find a method you're comfortable with. It can help to cut their nails while they sleep, so they aren't squirming around and making things difficult.

accidents will happen

Wriggly babies and sharp implements are a tricky combination, and you won't be the first to have an accident. If you do nick your baby's skin, it's not the end of the world. Just grab a damp bit of cotton wool to wipe the cut and clean away any blood, then press gently but firmly on it until the bleeding stops. Never use plasters on babies: they're a choking hazard if they fall off.

prevent scratches

If your baby won't hold still or let you near their nails with clippers, you can still keep them from scratching during the night. Try putting mittens on their hands or use the scratch mitts built into some sleepsuits: that'll keep those claws away from your little one's tender face until they're ready for a trim[2].

References

[1]. Washing and Bathing Your Baby, NHS, August 2018

[2]. How To Trim Your Baby's Nails, BabyCentre, April 2018