Baby Finger & Toe Nails: When and How to Trim

Baby fingers and toes are some of the cutest parts of your newborn’s body.  You probably spend time every day admiring and caressing them.  But if your little one has started scratching her face or cutting into adjacent toes, it may be time for a mini manicure and pedicure.

Those ten teeny fingers and toes can be difficult to trim, however.  Most babies won’t sit still for very long and certainly don’t like to be held down, making it tricky – and slightly unnerving – to attempt the task of going near them with clippers or a scissors.

Baby Finger & Toe Nails:  When and How to TrimThere are a few moments in the day, however, when baby is relaxed enough for a nail clipping: Naptime and while breastfeeding are two perfect opportunities.

Trimming those nails during a nap may seem risky.  After all, many people believe in the adage, “Never wake a sleeping baby.”  So select a time when you know your baby to be deep in sleep, not when she’s only in a light twilight sleep.  Also remember, trimming won’t be possible if you swaddle your babe or if she’s wearing a footed pajamas or socks.  And if you typically nap during baby’s naptime (which we highly recommend), you’ll miss out on some zzzs yourself.

The other simple option is to “nail it” while you’re breastfeeding – pun intended.  While your little one is happily chowing down and distracted, break out your baby nail scissors or clippers and trim away.

The best way to cut is with a really great light source while your baby is lying down.  Push back the finger pad to increase the ledge of the nail and hold your baby tightly before clipping.  Follow the finger curve when cutting finger nails, but cut toe nails straight across.

If you’re worried about slicing those teeny digits, try a file.  This is actually the pediatrician’s recommended way to trim nails for the first few weeks of life.  Some baby files can be hard to handle, so one of your regular emery board may be a better bet.  For the mamas who love gadgets, the Zoli Buzz B is a baby buffer which makes is even simpler to get those little nails down to the perfect length.

Another option if you are skittish with the clippers or scissors is to peel off your baby’s nails.  They are usually pretty thin and if they are long enough, you can get good leverage to peel them easily.  Never bite off your baby’s nails.  This can introduce germs into the cuticles and nail beds that your baby’s brand new immune system cannot yet fend off.

So next time you’re wondering what to do during naptime or where to put your hands while your little one is comfortably breastfeeding, multi-task!  Give those fingers and tootsies a once over and check that off your list.

Good luck and happy trimming!