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adult and baby hands

Did you know that fingernails grow an estimated 0.1 mm each day? Trimming your little one's nails can be a bit unnerving, especially at first. But keeping their nails short is important. Babies lack muscle control so they can easily scratch and cut their own delicate skin while happily waving their little hands and feet.

Because babies' nails tend to grow quickly from infancy to toddlerhood, they may need to be trimmed as often as once or twice a week. 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. Many parents prefer to wait until the baby is asleep when hands are less of a moving target.

For best results, find a good position that allows you easy access to your baby's hands. Make sure you are in an area with good lighting so that you can see what you're doing.

Push down on the fingertip skin so you can get the clipper or scissors around both sides of the nail and avoid cutting your baby’s finger (or toe). Use baby nail scissors, which have rounded tips for safety, or baby clippers. Make sure to keep the nail edges rounded instead of jagged. If you prefer then you can use an emery board to file the nails down without the risk of giving your little one any nicks.

Some parents opt to bite or peel off their newborn’s nails. This isn’t recommended because it can possibly lead to infection. Also, because clippers and scissors can trim nails in a more controlled fashion, you’ll be better off using one or the other (or both). Or simply using a nail file to keep things under control. 

Don't worry if you accidentally draw blood (a common occurrence with fussy, fidgeting babies). 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 it.

Relax and in no time you will be enjoying giving your baby a mani-pedi.

Call (866) MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.

View additional helpful articles

Pediatric Care

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