Home > Blog > An Early Start: Nail Care for Infants

It can be overwhelming—caring for the new, adorable baby in your life. From late night feedings to tireless diaper changes, parenthood poses all kinds of challenges for new moms and dads, and having a few little how-to’s under your belt can relieve some of the uncertainties.

Trimming your baby’s nails is important, and being comfortable with the process is an acquired skill. Because babies have so little control over their hands at an early age, jagged, sharp or long nails can lead to scratches on the face and arms, as well as on mom or dad. Longer nails also leave extra room for germs to reside, so it’s best to make sure that fingernails are kept at a short length. In order to do this, baby should be asleep or kept occupied by a caregiver while another caretaker trims nails with a pair of infant nail clippers. When trimming, hold the skin of baby’s finger down away from the nail with one hand, while clipping with the other. Doing this after bath time can make the process easier, when baby’s nails are at their softest. Keep fingernails rounded on the top to avoid sharp edges that can scratch as nails grow longer, and consider an emory board or baby nail file to smooth out any spots that feel uneven.

Your baby’s toenails will require less frequent trimming but the same type of care. Toenails grow much slower than fingernails, so you may find you’re only filing or cutting them once every few weeks. Trim toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails on your little one. You can still file nails that feel sharp, as long as you’re maintaining a straight edge.

If you accidentally cut baby’s skin when trimming either hands or feet, apply pressure with a tissue or gauze for a few minutes. Never put a band aid on your baby’s finger, as it poses a choking hazard if he or she puts the cut finger in their mouth. Remember, you’re in no hurry to trim your little one’s finger and toenails, so it doesn’t hurt to take your time or to wait until you have help. You’ll make it easier on yourself, and ultimately, better for your baby. Good luck, and congratulations!