Tori Kropp, RN / Baby Care Basics


A newborn's nails may look flimsy, but they're surprisingly sharp. To keep your infant from scratching himself, here's what you'll need to do:

– For the first few weeks of life, use an emery board to whittle down nails. After that, a baby clipper or high-quality nail scissors with a rounded tip should do the trick.

– To avoid catching the skin, press downward on the finger pad before cutting. Follow the nail's natural curve, taking care to always leave a thin white rim behind. Avoid cutting straight across as this may result in sharp corners. If, despite your best efforts, you end up with jagged edges, you can round them out with an emery board.

– Keep in mind that most parents -- no matter how cautious -- will occasionally nick some skin during a trim. If this happens, don't panic. Your baby's pain will be short-lived. And you can quickly stop any bleeding by wrapping the finger in a tissue or cotton ball and applying gentle pressure.

– Fingernails grow quickly. Expect to trim them at least once a week. Toenails usually require less maintenance. Cutting them twice a month should suffice.

– If your baby squirms or protests try cutting them while he's sleeping, or have your partner do it while you baby is nursing or taking a bottle