A little baby’s nails are tiny structures that can leave a new parent quite puzzled! A common dilemma for a parent concerns a baby’s nail care – cutting, trimming and their general hygiene. A baby’s nails start forming in the second trimester of pregnancy and are completely formed at birth. A baby’s nails may need trimming from birth onwards.
What’s special about a baby’s nails?
A baby’s nails are quite soft and delicate, as opposed to adult nails. They also grow fast, especially the finger nails. These require trimming once a week, on an average.
Why do baby nails need trimming?
There are 2 major reasons to trim your baby’s nails –
- A) To prevent injury
A baby cannot control his/her hand and foot movements too well, so if nails are not trimmed, a baby may end up with scratches on his/her face and body.
- B) To prevent ingrown nails
A timely nail trim can prevent an uncomfortable situation of ingrown nails in your baby. Ingrown nails occur when the edge of the nail begins to grow into the adjacent skin. It causes pain and swelling of that area.
So as a parent, you need to find ways to trim or cut your baby’s nails gently and safely.
7 Tips to Cut Your Baby’s Nails Safely
- Getting started
First, take a deep breath and don’t worry that you may hurt your baby. Choose a spot with good light and a time when your baby is calm. Gently and firmly hold your baby’s finger and move the finger pad away from the nail to avoid cuts on the skin of the finger.
- Use a baby nail clippers or scissors
Baby nail trimmers are available commercially specifically for trimming a baby’s delicate nails. These are small and give better visibility when cutting as compared to adult sized clippers. Gently clip the white line of a bay’s nail. This will prevent over cutting. Do not use adult sized clippers as they exert more pressure and are too big to gently cut your baby’s small and delicate nails. Baby nail scissors have rounded edges for safety and may be used initially when baby nails are soft.
- File the nails
An easy way to avoid over cutting of your baby’s nails is by just using a fine – grained emery board to file the finger or toe nails. Alternatively, a baby’s nails may be filed after cutting or trimming too, in order to smooth over rough edges. Be careful not to file the skin. Avoid using metal nail files as they may be too harsh for the gentle filing required for a baby.
- Shape of fingernail
It is best to go for a gentle curve for finger nails and straight while cutting for toe nails. Avoid curving at the edges or where the nail meets the finger bed. Curved shape of finger nails can lead to ingrown nails, a condition where the nail grows into the nail bed.
- Do Not – dig or bite
Avoid over cutting, digging into the finger bed while cutting your baby’s nails. This can lead to nail bed infections. Also avoid biting off a baby’s nails. This is because the adult (parent’s) mouth contains multiple microorganisms, which may be transferred to the baby via cuts, leading to a potential infection. Biting your baby’s nails may seem like a safer option to cutting, but you risk giving your baby an infection through this method.
- Cut after your baby’s bath
You can try cutting your baby’s nails immediately after his/her bath. This is because bathing makes the nails soft and easy to cut. Since the nails are soft, exert minimum pressure and cut carefully, to avoid accidental cuts of the finger or toe.
- Use sleep time
Another way to minimize accidental cuts is to cut your baby’s nails when he/she is fast asleep. This way, your baby is not moving, so you can comfortably stabilize and trim the nails.
- Managing inadvertent cuts and bleeding
Every parent makes mistakes, so don’t blame yourself if you unintentionally cut your baby’s finger or thumb while cutting nails. Do not panic. If the finger begins to bleed, rinse with clean water and just apply firm pressure on it with a clean cloth for a few minutes. Once the bleeding subsides, you may cover the wound with a sterile gauze bandage. Keep an eye on the baby bandage, because your baby might put the bandaged finger in his/her mouth and accidentally swallow it. Soothe your baby with a song or by rocking, till he/she calms down.
As a new parent, you will face a challenge every day. Form big ones like childhood illnesses to small ones like simply cutting your baby’s nails safely. Calmly proceed to cut your baby’s nails using the tips you have read and you will be able to confidently perform this task from there on. Neatly trimmed nails will add to the overall good hygiene and appearance of your baby!
Do it gently, do it right!