Trimming your baby’s nails is something you need to start doing within a few days after his birth.
Following the proper techniques, alongside certain precautionary measures from the beginning, would help your infant have clean and well-shaped nails.
When can you start cutting a newborn’s nails?
It is necessary to cut your baby’s nails as soon as it grows long. Otherwise, he may end up scratching his face or anywhere else as those small nails are quite sharp, and he still lacks control of his hand and leg movements.
Newborn nails grow pretty fast, needing trimming at least once or twice a week, while some babies may need it more frequently. The fingernails require more attention than toenails because of their quicker growth.
Safest ways of cutting and caring for baby nails
1. Filing your baby’s nails
The easiest way to manage your child’s tiny nails in the initial weeks after birth is to file them using an emery board rather than cutting. For older kids filing may be needed to neaten the uneven edges after cutting.
Cover his hands with socks or mittens in the initial weeks if you want to skip filing or cutting altogether. As he reaches about one month of age, you can turn to clipping, as his nails gradually tend to harden.
2. Clipping your baby’s nails
When clipping, a proper light source is needed so that you can see the nails properly. Hold your little one’s finger firmly, and to avoid any cuts or bleeding, pull back the skin of the fingertip slightly so that it does not touch the nail when clipping. Then, place the clipper gently under the nail you desire to cut. Follow the direction of the natural curves for fingernails, and trim straight across for toenails.
Safe baby nail clippers include those having a soft handle for a proper grip and ones having a magnifying glass to give a clear view of the tiny nails.
3. Cutting with scissors
Use scissors with a round tip to lessen the chances of injury, particularly if he gets restless during the cutting session. The remaining procedure is the same as clipping.
Measures to take for bleeding while cutting your baby’s nails
If the nails are clipped too short, there is a chance of cutting the skin, thus resulting in bleeding. Do not panic, but immediately rinse the cut finger in cold water for some time, then hold it gently with sterile gauze to stop the blood.
However, avoid dressing it with a bandage as the young ones have a habit of putting their finger into their mouth quite often, which may result in a choking hazard. Liquid bandage products are also not recommended by doctors as babies may often end up sucking it.
If the bleeding does not stop even after implementing these remedies, take your baby to the doctor at the earliest.
How to clean your baby’s nails?
Besides cutting, cleaning and caring for your newborn’s nails is essential to maintain hygiene. You can wash his fingers well with baby soap during bath time or use an unused baby toothbrush with soft bristles to clean the dirt that accumulates under the nails.
If your baby has an ingrown toenail (nail growing into his skin), take proper care of it by giving him a hot water foot bath thrice a day for approximately ten minutes and applying an antibiotic ointment afterward.
Take special care of his cuticles, if any, by keeping them moisturized using proper hand cream as prescribed by your doctor.
Tips to remember while trimming your baby’s nails
- Most kids hate cutting their nails and get very cranky whenever it is done; hence, it is better to opt for a time when they are asleep or engaged in an activity they are fond of.
- If doing it when he is awake, make sure to have someone to hold your baby and keep him engaged so that you may do your work easily.
- You should never cut his nails too short, bite them for a proper shape, or trim the cuticles, as in doing so, you may be giving free entry to germs to get into the skin under his nails, leading to infection.
- You can get a baby nail care kit containing a file, clipper, and cutting scissors to make your work easier and more organized.
Dr. Mashiach has completed his MD at the Sackler School of Medicine, TAU; specialization in gynecology at the Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center; fellowship in Endoscopy at the Polyclinique de I’Hotel-Dieu, Universite d’Auvergne, Clermont, France.
He is a Senior Physician, Director of the Department of Gynecology, which provides routine and preventative care services to its patients and a full range of gynecological surgical procedures for adequately managing its patients with benign gynecologic disorders.
He offers advanced care in all gynecological subspecialties such as Urogynecology, Colposcopy, Fetal Loss Clinic, and Post Menopausal Clinic.