February 20, 2021

7 Tips for Newborn Nail Care

Most new moms are prepared for the many joyful, but challenging aspects of caring for a newborn baby — feeding, bathing, diaper changes, mani-pedis. Mani-pedis?

An essential part of newborn care is keeping your baby’s nails trimmed. While a new baby’s nails are soft and flexible, they can be incredibly sharp if left ragged or too long. And because they can’t yet control their movements, babies are likely to scratch their own delicate faces.

As a new mother will soon learn, keeping up with the job can be demanding (and daunting). A newborn’s nails, particularly the fingernails, grow rapidly, and you will probably need to trim them at least once a week.

Here are some ways to make the task easier for you and for your baby:

  • If possible, use a nail file or emery board to smooth the nails.
  • When you need to trim, use nail clippers or scissors made especially for infants. Do NOT use adult-sized clippers.
  • The best time to trim is after a bath, when the nails are soft, or while your baby is asleep. If you do it while your baby is awake, have someone hold your baby while you trim.
  • Make sure you have plenty of light.
  • Press the finger pad away from the nail so you can get the clipper or scissors around both sides of the nail and avoid nicking the skin. Keep a firm hold on your baby’s hand as you clip.
  • Round fingernails at the corners to prevent sharp edges. Cut toenails straight across.
  • You may still need to use a file or emery board to smooth any sharp edges.

Some parents bite off their baby’s nails, but this could introduce germs into any small cut on your baby’s finger or toe. If you do nick your baby, don’t put a bandage on it — it could come off, and your baby could choke on it. Instead, rinse the cut under cool water and wrap a tissue around the finger or toe, holding it with a little pressure until the bleeding stops, usually within a few minutes.

Next Steps and Useful Resources:

Find a Provider Near You
Register for a Mother & Baby Care or Breastfeeding Class
Learn more about Newborn Care
Crack Your Baby’s Crying Code

Learn More.