How Do I Trim My Baby’s Nails?

One of the most surprising observations I made when my daughter was born was just how long her fingernails were. Despite having a tiny little fingers and teeny toes, with her whole hand clamping entirely around my baby finger, her fingernails were really long and extremely sharp, often causing her to scratch her face when she was tired or through those adorable involuntary arm movements!

Whilst mittens and onesies with integrated mitts are a great option for preventing scratches and keeping your baby’s hands away from their face, there comes a point when you WILL need intervene. Doing it for the first time can be quite a daunting prospect, so here’s what you need to know about trimming your baby’s nails.

  • Bring on the Natural Light – This may sound like common sense, but when trimming your baby’s nails for the first time, it’s pretty important that you can actually see what you’re doing. Position yourself somewhere close to a window with lots of natural lighting where possible so you can see their fingers and nails clearly. Shadows, reflections and dull lighting are not a great place to start.
  • Ask your partner to help – If you have a partner or friend who is available to help, rein them in – team work makes the dream work! The process can be a lot easier if someone else is holding and distracting your baby whilst you trim their nails.
  • Timing is key – Whilst there is no specific optimum time to trim your baby’s nails, there are certainly a few times to avoid. Firstly, you want your baby to be calm and content; therefore if they are approaching nap time or due to nurse sometime soon, this probably isn’t the ideal moment. The last thing you want is a fractious or wriggly hungry or distressed baby to contend with whilst trying to keep your focus and your ensure your hand is steady.
  • Pick their low energy moments – In my experience, the easiest time to trim your baby nails is when they are sleepy, relaxed or just post feed so that their energy levels are lower. After your baby’s bath also works well, as generally not only will your baby be a little sleepy, but their nails will be softer and easier to cut too.
  • Get the right tools for the job – First up, however tempting it may be and regardless of whether you’ve seen others do it, don’t be tempted to bite your baby’s nails or trim them with your teeth – a) its dirty and can spread germs and b) it can lead to infections or damage baby’s delicate skin. The easiest way is to use specially rounded safety scissors with guards or baby nail clippers, pulling the pad of skin away from the nail as you trim to prevent cutting or catching their delicate skin. You can also get very fine nail files to smooth away sharp or jagged edges.
  • Stay calm – Finally, try and stay calm. Your baby is tuned in to your mood, expressions and body language, so can pick up on any tension and anxiety. Take some deep breaths and stay as relaxed as possible. If it doesn’t feel right on the first attempt, don’t worry about aborting your mission and trying again another day.

One thing is for sure, your baby’s nails grow incredibly quickly – much faster than ours as adults adults, so as daunting and apprehensive as you may feel the first few times you trim their nails, you will get used to it!

Good luck!

Lucy Cotterill
Lucy is a UK-based parenting and lifestyle blogger who has also featured in the Huffington Post. A Mom of two daughters, Lucy is passionate about sharing the true reality of parenthood and helping others through their first experiences. In her free time she loves to write, go on day trips with her family and photography.

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