Although cutting your little one's nails can be a bit
unnerving, especially at first, keeping nails short is important to
your baby's safety. Because they lack
, infants can easily scratch and cut their own delicate skin while
happily waving their hands and feet. It's especially important
to keep babies' nails trimmed once they start interacting and
playing with other children who could be scratched, especially in
Some parents find it easier to accomplish the nail-trimming task
with a partner: one person holding the baby to keep the little one
from squirming and the other trimming the nails. First, find a good
position that allows you easy access to your baby's hands. This
may mean placing your baby in your lap, sitting with him or her in
a rocker, or even waiting until your baby's asleep.
Hold your baby's palm and finger steady with one hand and
cut with the other. You should cut your baby's nails with baby
nail scissors, which have rounded tips for safety, or baby
clippers. Many baby nail-care kits also come with nail files or
emery boards, but if you cut your baby's nails short enough and
make sure to keep the nail edges rounded instead of jagged, it
isn't necessary to use these. However, if you're hesitant
to try baby nail scissors or clippers and your baby will sit long
enough to cooperate, you can use an emery board to file the nails
down without the risk of giving your little bundle any nicks.
If you accidentally draw blood (a common occurrence with fussy,
fidgeting babies), don't worry. Using a sterile gauze pad,
gently apply pressure to stop the bleeding. But don't put a
bandage around the tiny cut - babies will inevitably put their
fingers in their mouths and can dislodge the bandage and choke on
Because babies' nails tend to grow quickly from infancy to
toddlerhood, they may need to be trimmed as often as once a week.
Some newborns need their nails to be trimmed even more often than
that for the first few weeks of life.
Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: July 2007
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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