The Ultimate Guide to Baby Nail Cutting

by Laura Klein

Your new baby is born and the world is a cuter place. One morning, she wakes up and there are scratches on her cheeks.  What's happened?  You feel concerned. Then you realise those little fingernails are long and sharp.

It's time for one of the most stressful activities as a new parents - trimming your baby's nails. 

But don't panic - we've put together a comprehensive guide to help you tackle this problem with ease!

The Facts on Baby Fingernails

1. In utero, your baby’s fingernail and toenail beds begin to form at 11 weeks, with the nails themselves starting to grow at week 12. By 34 weeks of pregnancy, the nail is completely grown.

2. The pinky is the slowest growing fingernail. Toenails grow the slowest of all. 

3. Fingernails grow at around 3-4 mm per month after birth, meaning you will need to check fingernails every week.  

4. Baby nails are soft and flexible but the edges can be quite ragged and sharp. 

5. Babies can't control arm movements until a few months of age, so long, sharp fingernails may cause them to scratch themselves. 


6. Once babies can control their arm movements by 4-6 months, they may begin thumb sucking or finger sucking, as a source of comfort. Germs and bacteria can lie dormant underneath fingernails, and will quickly enter their system via the mouth, so it's essential nails are kept clean and short, to prevent your baby getting sick.  The same rule applies for toddlers and older children. Thumb sucking is one of the quickest ways for germs to enter the body, so regular nail cleaning and trimming will be a weekly task for years to come. 

7. Some parents chew the nails off, but this could tear your baby’s nail to the quick and is not advisable. In addition, germs from your mouth could get into any tiny cuts on your baby’s fingers, possibly causing an infection. You also won't be able to see what you're doing, and you'll find your baby's fingernail is tiny compared to your teeth!


Safe and Easy Nail Cutting

Ensure you find a place with good natural light, so you can see the nail clearly. 

Calmly sing or talk to your baby or toddler throughout the process, or distract with a 5 minute TV show. 

A Nail Snail is a clever invention by an Aussie Mum, and is the quickest and easiest way to do all 3 nail jobs: clean, trim and file. With a simple gliding motion through the unique v-shaped blade, there is no risk of cutting too short or cutting your baby's skin. Read more and watch the videos here

We caution against using traditional sharp nail scissors, as they can easily cut too close to the skin. Nor do we recommend some newer technology of electric nail files for babies. 

Keep the nails nice and straight, don’t go too short and avoid trimming around the curve of their finger. Be careful not to cut down the side of their toenail, as it can cause ingrown nails, and avoid digging into the sides of their nails as it can cause an infection. 

In the very unlikely event that you accidentally nip the skin, don’t worry. Gently hold a piece of clean, damp cotton wool on the cut, apply a little pressure and the bleeding will soon stop. Don’t use a band-aid though, as if it comes off your baby may choke on it.

Parenting is a busy job, so we hope these tricks and tools make this job easy and stress-free. 

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