how to cut baby nails

As a new parent you’re going to be learning a lot of new skills, including how to cut baby nails.

This small task is sometimes overlooked by new parents, who quickly realize that it has to be done more often than they ever expected! It can also seem daunting because a brand new baby’s nails are so small, and no parent wants to accidentally cause their child harm. So keep reading to learn everything you need to know about how to cut baby nails without posing any risk to your little one (or yourself!).


How to cut baby nails: It’s a matter of safety

Of course, you already know that everyone has fingernails that need to be cut. However, whereas adults can monitor and control nail growth themselves, or even mindlessly bite off a fingernail on occasion (Yuck!), babies can’t. Their nails are quite sharp, which can be quite dangerous considering their lack of coordination and desire to touch everything. With flailing arms and sharp nails your baby could be a weapon of mass destruction!


How to cut baby nails: More often than you think! 

You might be surprised at how fast your little one’s nails grow out. Clipping baby nails is something that you should do a few times each week to keep them short enough that they aren’t dangerous for anyone. Toenails, however, don’t have to be cut quite as often—check on them once a week and cut them as often as it seems necessary.


You can do it

It wouldn’t be an article about how to cut baby nails if we didn’t give you the steps! Now that you know the basics, here is your step by step guide: 

  1. Make sure to be in a well-lit, clean area with sterilized baby scissors or baby nail clippers and an emery board.
  2. In the first few weeks, doctors recommend using only an emery board instead of cutting baby nails because the nails are very delicate. You’re also new to this and more likely to accidentally clip some skin!
  3. When using scissors or clippers, be sure to firmly hold the baby’s hand in place. You may even want to ask another adult for help.
  4. Hold the finger that you want to work on separately from the other fingers and point the nail downward. This will give you the best vantage point to see and manoeuvre while clipping baby nails.
  5. Gently pull the pad of the fingertip away from the nail to give yourself more room.
  6. Carefully position the scissors or clippers between the nail and fingertip and cut the excess nail, following the natural curve of the finger.
  7. In the case of toenails, follow the same steps, but cut in a straight instead of a curved line.
  8. Finally, use an emery board to make the freshly cut edges smooth.


How to cut baby nails: A little bit of extra help

After reading the steps involved in cutting baby nails, you may want a few tips and tricks to help make the job easier. Take a look:

  • Try doing it while the baby is sleeping so he can’t squirm around too much. Or if you prefer to do it while he’s awake, have someone distract him for you, or even play videos that he can watch while you work.
  • The nails are softest right after a bath, so this may be a good time to try as well.


Additionally, there are some things not to do:

  • An old trick is to bite the baby’s nails. However, doctors don’t recommend this because of the possibility of germ transfer between hand and mouth. Also, with the finger in your mouth, you can’t watch what you’re doing.
  • Don’t panic if you accidentally cut the baby’s finger. Almost every parent will do this at some point. The best thing to do is clean it well, then wrap it in tissue or toilet paper until the bleeding stops. Adhesive or liquid bandages are not recommended for babies.


Now that you know everything about how to cut baby nails, it’s time to go put it into practice! The first few times can be a little bit scary, but after doing it a few times a week, you’ll be a pro before your little one’s first birthday!