Newborns tend to grow really sharp nails and that, alongside their lack of coordination, means that they often scratch themselves. So even though your baby is so tiny you are going to have to take the plunge and cut those tiny little fingernails. Here’s how to do it safely:
Safe nail trimming
When they are born babies nails are very soft and flexible but they soon start to grow and their ragged and sharp edges mean that you will need to keep their nails short and clean.
Of course, it is often easier said than done when you are faced with a wriggly newborn who has no intention of letting you anywhere near their finger or toenails.
Initially, the nails are so soft they will peel away easily but as they grow you can use special baby nail scissors which have rounded ends, small baby nail clippers or an emery board. Even if you cut the nails the board can come in handy to smooth off the cut edges.
It is a lot easier to trim your baby’s nails if you have someone else holding and/or distracting them. If you can pick your moment, for example, when your baby is feeding or distracted by something it makes life easier for everyone.
How often will my baby’s nails need cutting?
Babies nails grow really fast so you will probably need to cut them at least once a week if not more. Toenails grow much more slowly so these should be done every couple of weeks.
How do I cut them? Should I shape the nails?
Don’t go too short and try not to cut a curve. Just cut straight across, you can always remove the edge with an emery board if you are concerned. This is especially important with toenails as cutting down the side can lead to painful ingrowing nails or infection.
I don’t want to catch their fingers or toes!
You need to press the finger pad so it moves away from the nail, and hold their hand firmly. Don’t trim too low as this can cause bleeding and infection. Toenails need to be done slowly and carefully because they are soft and can curl over the toe making it hard to tell which part of the nail is still attached.
What if I cut them?
If you do accidentally cut their skin use a piece of damp cotton wool to put pressure on the cut. The bleeding will stop soon. Avoid plasters as these are a choking hazard if they fall off.
Never bite your baby’s nails!
You will also find your baby’s nails are much smaller than your teeth and you can’t actually see what you are doing. In addition, you could create tiny unseen cuts through which the germs from your mouth can enter and cause infection.
Can I stop my baby scratching?
There are scratch mittens available and some parents try putting socks on hands and feet, however, babies usually remove these fairly quickly. Wrapping a newborn with their hands covered is a good way of avoiding scratches.