Baby Nail Trimming Made Simple: The Ultimate Guide

Article By
Published On
10 Jan, 2023
Read Time
3 minutes

The truth is, trimming a newborn baby's nails can be a daunting task for parents.

Try not to worry though. We're here to run through when and how to cut a baby's nails, and to answer some commonly asked questions. Soon, you'll be a mini mani-pedi pro!

How to cut a newborn's nails

  1. Team up: Work with someone else to get the job done. One of you can hold the baby still and distract them, while the other trims or files their nails.
  2. Get the lighting right: Make sure that you can see what you're doing clearly and that you have plenty of light.
  3. Use clippers or a nail file: It's best to use a pair of specially designed baby nail scissors or clippers to care for your baby's nails. In between trims, you can file your little one's nails using a soft emery board to round off any rough edges.
  4. Follow the curve: When you're clipping your baby's nails, take care not to go too low and gently snip following the natural curve of their fingernail. You can press their finger pad away from their nail to avoid cutting their skin.

Cutting a newborn's toenails

You'll notice that your little one's toenails grow a lot slower than the nails on their fingers.

Because they require slightly less maintenance, the nails on their tiny toes will need trimming less frequently - usually around once a month. These should be trimmed straight across to prevent ingrown toenails.

When can you cut a baby's nails?

Even though they're tiny, soft, and wear down on their own over time, a baby's fingernails grow surprisingly fast. If left untrimmed, they can become long, sharp, and scratchy.

You can cut or file your baby's nails as early as their first week. From then, they'll need cutting as often as every three days in their first few weeks.

The best time to trim your baby's nails is when you're feeling alert and awake, and your baby is asleep, very calm, or feeling drowsy and ready for a snooze.  

It can take some time for little ones to get used to having their nails trimmed. To help keep them as relaxed as possible, you can:

  • sing to them
  • explain what you're doing
  • put on some music or their favorite TV show
  • give them lots of praise.

Trimming their nails after bath time can also help, as they're likely to be feeling relaxed and their nails will be softer.

If your baby is particularly fussy, popping on some socks or mittens can be a temporary solution to stop them from scratching themselves. However, these should only be worn for a short amount of time because babies need to use their hands to explore the world around them.

Whether you file or cut your baby's nails comes down to personal choice. Using a soft emery board to file a baby's nails can reduce the risk of accidental cuts. But because a newborn baby's nails are often soft and bendable, it can be a little tricky to file them.

If you find that your little one's tiny nails are too soft to file, specially designed baby nail clippers with a safety guard may be the best approach.

Accidents happen, so try not to worry too much if you do cut your baby's skin when trimming their nails. If they bleed, the best thing to do is gently press a clean, soft cloth pad onto the cut and apply some pressure until the bleeding stops.

Don't apply a band-aid or dressing because they pose a choking hazard. If you're concerned about the cut, you can take your baby to see your doctor.