How to Carefully Trim Baby’s Nails

February 27, 2019

How to Carefully Trim Baby’s Nails

Cutting a baby’s nails is often quite terrifying for new parents (and even veterans). Is it safe? How can you safely trim nails on a wiggly, tiny person? What happens if you accidentally cut her finger? Below are some tips to keep in mind when caring for baby nails on tiny fingers and toes.

A baby’s nails need to be trimmed around once a week (they grow faster than adults’). If your baby was born with long fingernails, you should start cutting or filing them pretty quickly. Baby toenails do not grow as quickly as fingernails so you do not have to trim them as often. Below are some tips for approaching the task.

Filing a Baby’s Nails

One approach to trimming a baby’s nails is filing them. Some pediatricians recommend filing rather than trimming with clippers because even the most careful person can accidentally snip a baby’s fingertips with clippers or scissors.

You should use a baby nail file to do the task, which are smaller than adult files. Once you are equipped with the necessary tool, file your baby’s nails and round the edges so the corners are not sharp. Baby nails are softest after bath time so consider filing them when she is fresh out of the tub or when she is sleeping and more still than usual. The same applies to baby toenails!

Cutting a Baby’s Nails

Some baby nails are rather bendable and difficult to file. If you opt to cut your baby’s fingernails instead, be sure to use a baby nail clipper (which is smaller than adult ones and often comes with safety guards to decrease the risk of cutting your baby’s fingertips). It is a good idea to file down sharp corners afterward to prevent scratching.

If you Cut Your Baby’s Finger

If you pinch your baby’s skin with the clippers, first of all, don’t panic. Try to assess the wound. If you cut a significant amount, head to the ER. If it doesn't look severe, try applying pressure with a clean towel until the bleeding stops, then wash it gently with soap and water. If the cut continues to bleed, phone your pediatrician to seek advice. Also watch for any swelling or redness from the injury. Pus-like discharge is also something you should look out for. If you see it, seek help from your child’s pediatrician.

Don’t apply a Band-Aid as it is a choking hazard. Instead, just apply Neosporin or coconut oil two times a day until a scab forms. If you need to use a bandage, tape it securely over the area to ensure no pieces come loose.

Although it is normal to feel terrible for cutting your baby’s finger during nail trimming, know that you are not the only one who has done it and that it is not a big deal. Most people cut only a tiny amount of skin, which is initially frightening but it usually heals up quickly.

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