Trimming Your Baby's Nails

Although cutting your baby's nails can be a bit unnerving, especially at first, keeping nails short is important to your little one's safety. Because they lack muscle control, infants can easily scratch and cut their own delicate skin while happily waving their hands and feet. It's especially important to keep babies' nails trimmed once they start interacting and playing with other children who could be scratched, especially in child care.

Even though many babies are born with long nails, it's best to wait until they've hardened a bit before trimming them for the first time. Some parents find it easier to accomplish the nail-trimming task with a partner: one person holding the baby to keep the little one from squirming and the other trimming the nails. First, find a good position that allows you easy access to your baby's hands. This may mean placing your child in your lap, sitting with him or her in a rocker, or even waiting until your baby's asleep.

Hold your baby's palm and finger steady with one hand and cut with the other. You should cut your baby's nails with special baby nail scissors, which have rounded tips for safety, or baby clippers. Many baby nail-care kits also come with nail files or emery boards, but if you cut your baby's nails short enough and make sure to keep the nail edges rounded instead of jagged, it isn't necessary to use these. However, if you're hesitant to try baby nail scissors or clippers and your baby will sit long enough to cooperate, you can use an emery board to file the nails down without the risk of giving your little bundle any nicks.

If you accidentally draw blood a common occurrence with fussy, fidgeting babies, don't worry. Using a sterile gauze pad, gently apply pressure to stop the bleeding. But don't put a bandage around the tiny cut - babies will inevitably put their fingers in their mouths and can dislodge the bandage and choke on it.

Because babies' nails tend to grow quickly from infancy to toddlerhood, they may need to be trimmed as often as once a week.