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How to cut your newborn's nails
Newborns can easily scratch themselves
The best time to cut your baby's nails is when she's sleeping
You might want to bring in some support for the first few trims
- Baby nail scissors
- Baby nail clippers
- Nail file
During the first few weeks, newborn nails are very soft
Doctors recommend using only a nail file
Don't bite or tear your baby's nails
When your baby's nails are stronger, after a few weeks, you can switch to clippers or scissors
Take one of your baby's fingers and hold it firmly
Gently push the skin away from the tip of the nail and hold it there
Gently put the clippers under the nail and press slowly until the nail is cut
Follow the same process with nail scissors
Use a file to get rid of sharp edges
Cut fingernails along the curve of the nails
Cut toenails straight across
If you cut your baby's finger by mistake, don't panic!
Apply pressure with a cotton ball until the bleeding stops
You got this!
Video production by 8:45a
Should I trim my baby's nails?
Yes. Your baby's nails may be softer and more pliable than yours, but make no mistake – they're sharp! A newborn has little control over his flailing limbs and can easily end up scratching his own face or yours.
Little fingernails grow so fast you may have to cut them several times a week. Toenails require less frequent trimming.
How do I trim my baby's nails without cutting his fingertips?
The best time to do this is while she's sleeping. Another good time is right after a bath, when your baby's nails are softest.
Make sure you have enough light to see what you're doing. Use a pair of baby scissors or clippers made especially to use on tiny fingers. Press the finger pad away from the nail to avoid nicking the skin, and keep a firm hold on your baby's hand as you clip. Another tip is to have a partner use their fingernail to lift the baby’s nail away from the skin to ensure that the clipper doesn’t nick the skin.
Cut fingernails along the curve of the finger. Cut toenails straight across. Then use an emery board to smooth out rough edges.
Doctors recommend using only an emery board in the first few weeks of a new baby's life because nails are very soft. And new parents are also more likely to accidentally clip their baby's skin.
If you decide to give your baby a manicure while she's awake, ask your partner or a friend to hold her and keep her from wiggling too much while you work. Or have someone distract her so she'll let you hold her hand still for the clipping and filing.
Some parents bite their baby's nails into shape, but doing it this way could introduce germs from your mouth into any little cut your baby may have on her finger. You also won't be able to see what you're doing, and you'll find that your baby's finger is tiny compared to your teeth!
If I do cut a fingertip, how do I stop the bleeding?
If you do nick a tiny fingertip, don't be too hard on yourself – it happens to lots of parents. Simply rinse the cut under cool water, then wrap a tissue around your baby's finger and hold it with a little pressure. The bleeding usually stops in a couple of minutes.
Resist the temptation to try to put a bandage on your baby's finger. It's likely to come off when he puts his finger in his mouth, and he could end up choking on it.
Also, doctors don't recommend using a liquid bandage product for babies or toddlers because they'll probably suck it off. If your child has a wound that doesn't stop bleeding, it's a good idea to see your child's doctor.