Infant Nail Care

Trimming a wiggly baby's tiny fingernails and toenails can be an exercise in frustration -- and fear that you'll nick her sensitive skin with the clippers. But your newborn's fingernails should be trimmed about once a week, and her toenails once a month, to prevent her from scratching herself and others.

Ideally, the best time for baby's manicure and pedicure is after her bath. Baby's nails are softened from the bath, making them easy to cut. If your baby won't sit still, snip nails during naptime.

To keep nails neat and smooth, follow these simple tips:

  • Using baby nail clippers or blunt-nosed scissors, follow the natural curve of the fingernail but cut toenails straight across (if using clippers or scissors makes you uneasy, you can also file baby's nails with a soft emery board).

  • To avoid pinching or cutting her skin with the clippers, push the pad of the finger or toe down and away from the nail while you trim.

  • If you do accidentally nick your baby's skin, apply a bit of pressure to the cut with a piece of sterile gauze until the bleeding stops, and then dab on some antibiotic ointment.

  • If she won't sit still, have another adult hold your infant, gently holding her arm still while you work on her nails.

  • An infected or ingrown nail will look red and inflamed around the edge, and the skin around the nail may feel hard. It will probably hurt when touched. Holding warm compresses on the nail may help clear up the problem, but be sure to tell your pediatrician about it in case it requires additional treatment, such as antibiotics.
The content on these pages is provided as general information only and should not be substituted for the advice of your physician.

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