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ABCs of Newborns- N is for Nail Clipping

by | Jul 10, 2019 | Newborns

You might be surprised if your baby was born with what seems like claws instead of nails… yikes!! But let’s face it, if you didn’t cut your nails for 9 months, your nails would probably look like that as well. And now comes a flood of questions.


“When should I start trimming my baby’s nails?”

“How often should I trim them?”


“What should I use to trim them?”


“How do I trim them safely without accidentally cutting my baby’s fingertips?”


“Ugh, if I do accidentally snag some skin, how on earth do I stop the bleeding?”


“How do I prevent my baby from scratching themselves?”


Babies’ nails grow at a much faster rate than adult nails, and although they are softer and smaller than adult nails — they’re super sharp!! It’s usually a good rule of thumb (hah, no pun intended) to trim your baby’s fingernails several times a week (starting right after birth if necessary), and their toenails once a week.  Otherwise, your baby is at risk for scratching themselves or you when they’re flailing around during a diaper changing session.


It’s best to trim your baby’s nails when he or she is asleep or has just gotten out of the bath, as the water will soften up the nails and make them easier to cut.  I know we’re all guilty of doing it to our own nails sometimes, but never bite or tear off your baby’s nails! This can damage the delicate skin underneath and put them at risk for infection.  You should always trim your baby’s nails with a baby-sized nail clipper or baby nail scissors, as these are specially designed for tiny baby fingers and toes.


In order to trim your baby’s nails without cutting the skin, it’s recommended to press gently on the finger or toe pad in order to have access to the nail itself.  Make sure you’re trimming your baby’s nails in a well-lit environment, and aim to cut their fingernails along the curve of their tiny finger and their toenails straight across. You can also opt to use a small emery board to smooth out any rough patches.


Don’t be super hard on yourself if you accidentally do nick some skin. It happens to the best of us. If this does happen, run the cut under cool water and apply light pressure to it using a sterile gauze pad, and the bleeding should stop shortly thereafter.  However, do not put a bandage on your baby’s cut, as they may put it in their mouth and choke.


Moral of the story is that every parent makes mistakes. It’s okay if you accidentally trim your baby’s fingertip along with the nail, just be sure to keep the tiny wound clean to prevent infection.  If you’re still worried about your baby scratching themselves even after you’ve trimmed their nails, it might be time to invest in some of those cute little baby onesies with built in footies and mittens 🙂

Sam Steel


Miami Beach, FL



We are doulas living in Miami with a love for cafecito, pregnancy and newborns. We are the experts and the moms who have been there sharing our best tips and tricks with a side of inspiration. Our goal? Help you kick ass at this parenting gig.

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