Tips for Cutting Baby's Nails

Long or sharp fingernails and toenails can scratch babies’ skin and cause discomfort or even lead to infection.  They can also harbor bacteria that babies and small children, who often put their fingers in their mouths, can ingest.  From a hygiene and safety perspective, it’s important to keep your children’s nails clean, trimmed and smooth.  But that can be easier said than done!

It’s hard to keep up with kids.  We get it.  We’ve been there!  Who wants to struggle with a cranky, squirming child and risk cutting them in the process?  And there are so many other caregiver chores to do that parents often forget about the dreaded nail cutting until a scratch appears.  So, here are our favorite tips for cutting and smoothing your child’s nails, quickly, safely and without tantrums.

1. Trim nails while your child is sleeping.  If he’s a light sleeper, try to at least do a couple of nails at a time.
2. Always hold your child’s hand gently, but firmly, in case of sudden movements.
3. Use the tool that you feel comfortable with.  If you’re not as handy with nail scissors as you are with clippers, use the clippers.
4. If your child simply won’t tolerate nail scissors or clippers, try using a nail file.  It takes much longer but it’s less intimidating for a child who is afraid of being cut.
5. Let your child do the filing, while you supervise.  Choose a baby nail file that is easy for your child to handle and has a fine grit (320/400).  Then let her work on her nails.  Toddlers love to learn new things and to be independent, so this can be a fun activity.  Just be sure that the grit is not too coarse and that you’re watching closely so she doesn’t accidentally smooth her fingertips instead of her nails.