Tips on How to Safely Clip Your Baby's Fingernails - Baby Chick

Tips on How to Safely Clip Your Baby’s Fingernails

ParentingUpdated February 10, 2021


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If your newborn is anything like mine was, their fingernails grow at an astronomical speed. As a first time mom, one of the things that gave me extreme anxiety was the thought of accidentally clipping my daughter’s finger instead of her nail. I remember being petrified and not knowing where to even start with the once-daunting task of nail-clipping. Use these few tips to ease that anxiety and safely trim your little love’s nails.

How to Safely Clip Your Baby’s Fingernails

Use a baby electric nail file.

Baby Nail File Electric by Pretty MiniMe

Honestly, whoever invented this deserves a medal. I don’t know what parents did before this invention was around. This electric nail file is so gentle, with different heads to use as your baby grows. It automatically stops if the head has too much pressure or if you get on the baby’s skin. We’ve been using this for almost ten months now. What a lifesaver!! You can also purchase replacement heads for this device when they get dull.

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Use baby nail scissors.

Easy Grip Nail Scissors by Frida Baby Grooming Essentials Safe for Infant Newborn Toddler Nails

If you’re not into the baby electric nail file, another good option is this baby nail scissors by Fridababy. These nail scissors make it nearly impossible to cut your baby’s skin while clipping. You simply trim off any of the nail that is white. You can then use an emery board to help smooth them and shape the nail.

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Clip the nails while your baby sleeps.

This may seem weird, but the two easiest times that I’ve found to clip my baby’s nails are while she’s nursing/having a bottle, or sleeping! If your babe is anything like mine, she may want to wiggle or grab onto anything you’re holding. Especially as babies get older and start teething, everything goes into their mouths. Due to this, clipping while she’s nursing or sleeping has been my best bet for a smooth and easy process. When using the nail file or scissors, you don’t run the risk of cutting their finger and waking them up!

Still afraid? Seek help!

It takes a village, and many of our friends and family are always asking what they can do to help. When we first brought our daughter home, my mom frequently asked me what she could do to help. Find a seasoned parent (or grandparent), postpartum doula, or someone that you trust and have them help you with the first few nail trims, or ask them to give you a lesson on baby nail clipping! Your pediatrician may also be willing to help or show you some tips at those early well-baby visits.

If you don’t have these as options, enlist the help of a friend or your partner to help hold your baby’s hand while you clip the nails. A second set of hands can be helpful in this situation!

But I’m still too nervous!

If you are still too nervous and feel overwhelmed with cutting your baby’s nails, take a beat. I find personally that my baby feeds off of my energy. So, if I’m nervous, she will probably be stressed and nervous too. Getting worked up will only make it more challenging to complete this process. While we need to get those nails cut, we can use some other products in the meantime to help keep that soft baby skin safe while we take a breather and come back to the nail clipping. One product that I love and can’t live without is pajamas or onesies with hand flaps. You can get these at any store or online, and they are amazing!

One product that you can leave behind at the store is baby mittens. These are useless. They don’t stay on and are incredibly difficult to keep track of.

If the worst happens and you do nick a finger or toe, don’t fret. Just rinse the cut with cool water and cover the cut with sterile gauze or cloth. Apply a little pressure and hold it briefly. The bleeding usually stops quickly. You can apply some antibiotic cream, but avoid bandages, which could cause your baby to choke.

How often should I clip them?

Once you get the hang of baby nail care, be sure to clip those fingernails frequently. I try to clip them 2-3 times a week. Staying on top of this task helps provide my child with routine, making it easier to accomplish. Another good time for nail care is right after the baby’s bath when she’s relaxed and her nails are soft. If your baby tenses up, take a break and give her a chance to calm down. Singing a favorite song may help.

Do you have other tips for caregivers clipping fingernails?

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