Cutting fingernails is something you should have mastered by now. After all, you’ve been cutting your own nails for most of your life . . . but when it comes to trimming your baby’s nails, you may be feeling a little nervous – or even scared. Don’t be nervous. Trimming a baby’s nails gets easier the more times you do it. Here’s a big tip – Always cut your baby’s fingernails when he or she is asleep. It makes the job easier, and it’s less stress on you!
Although your baby’s fingernails are softer and more flexible than an adult’s, don’t make the big mistake of allowing them to get too long. Those fingernails are sharp, and because your newborn has very little control over his arms and legs, his nails can easily end up scratching up his precious face. Because your baby’s nails will grow pretty fast, you may need to trim those baby nails several times a week. Cut your baby’s fingernails at least once a week to be on the safe side. Luckily, toenails grow more slowly, so they don’t require as many nail trimmings – maybe once a month. Just pay attention to the length of the nail, and be your own judge.
How to Trim Your Baby’s Fingernails
The best time to trim your baby’s nails is when he is in deep sleep. At this stage of sleep, your baby’s limbs will dangle limply and his hands are open wide. Another good time for that nail trimming is after your baby’s bath, since his nails are their softest then. Always make sure you have enough light. There are a number of baby nail clippers on the market that come with lights attached to help you have plenty of light.
1. Using one of your hands, press your baby’s finger pad away from his nail. None of his skin should be showing when you start trimming his nails. (This will help avoid accidental nicks.) Firmly hold onto your baby’s hands as you cut his fingernails.
2. Cut your baby’s fingernails along the shape of his fingernail. Toenails should be cut straight across. (Though ingrown toenails rarely affect babies, cutting straight across is still the method that experts recommend.)
3. Use an emery board (a type of nail file) to smooth out any rough edges. If your baby’s fingernails aren’t too long, you may want to skip on using baby nail clippers. Simply use an emery board to file them. (Filing may be the best option in very young infants.)
Avoid Biting Your Baby’s Nails
Some parents, especially moms who are afraid of clipping their baby’s nails, prefer to bite their infants’ fingernails. Although this may be easier than using clippers, pediatricians and doctors don’t recommend this method. Anytime that you put your baby’s fingers into your mouth, you run the risk of spreading germs from your mouth into a tiny cut that your baby may have on his finger – cuts that are so small that you may not notice them! This can lead to infection and illness in your baby.
If cutting nails still makes you nervous, you may want to cover your baby’s hand with cotton mittens instead. Trimming a baby’s nails really isn’t that hard, but it does take practice.
What To Do if You Accidentally Cut Your Baby’s Fingertip
Since you’ll be cutting your baby’s nails on a regular, frequent basis, you will soon become an expert at it. Unfortunately, minor accidents can happen, and some moms can accidentally cut a fingertip, but don’t fret. It’s OK to give your baby a “boo-boo” here and there. You will get better at trimming your baby’s nails the more often that you do it.
In the event that you do accidentally cut your baby’s finger fingertip, grab a clean tissue and wrap it around his tiny finger. Apply pressure. Your baby’s fingertip will often stop bleeding after a few minutes. Do not apply a band-aid on the finger, since there is a chance that it may come off when your baby decides to put his finger in his mouth. This poses a choking risk; so never use a bandage or band-aid on your baby’s finger.
You can however apply a liquid bandage that’s approved for use in kids. Liquid bandages for kids are non-toxic, and they dry quickly. When the wound is healed, they will be shed along with the dead skin cells. They are a good alternative to traditional band-aids for any accidental cuts.
Remember though that accidents happen to all moms; so don’t be too hard on yourself. Learn from your mistake and try to be more careful next time.
Again, you will get better the more that you cut your baby’s fingernails. Practice makes perfect!