Is Nail Polish Safe for Babies and Toddlers?


A number of parents think of applying nail polish on their baby’s tiny fingernails. While some parents do so because they find it adorable, some moms with twins may find it useful to tell them apart. But one of the most asked questions by parents is if it is safe to be applied to babies’ fingernails. In this article, we will be discussing all the effects of nail polish, if it safe for babies or not and more importantly, the do’s and don’ts:

Read More: Nail Care for Newborn Babies: 11 Tips for New Mums

In this article:

Can you Put Nail Polish on Your Baby’s Nails?
Nail Polish Chemicals that can be Harmful to Your Baby
Safe Nail Polish Options for Your Baby
Do’s and Don’ts While Painting Your Baby’s Nails

Nail Polish for Babies: Is it Safe?

Can you Put Nail Polish on Your Baby’s Nails?

A lot of parents question if nail polish is bad for babies. Now there are a number of products in the market that use safe ingredients and the answer is based on what the nail polish contains, so it can be a yes as well as a no. What majorly concerns the parents is, the chemicals used in the nail polish. There haven’t been any studies yet indicating a link between nail polish and a serious health complication like respiratory disease or cancer. But since we have no certain clue on how a baby can be affected by this, it is best to not use such products on babies.


Read More: 7 Ways to Clip Your Baby’s Nails Safely

nail polish on babies

Nail Polish Chemicals that can be Harmful to Your Baby

Listed below are a few chemicals that were once very commonly used but are now banned by the nail polish makers:


One of the most commonly used solvent in paint thinners, household products, cleaning solutions and fragrances is toluene. Toluene can irritate the skin and inhaling toluene vapors is considered to be dangerous for the respiratory and nervous system. Not only this, but it is also harmful to unborn babies and low levels of exposure to the same can lead to dizziness and headaches.


A known human carcinogen, long term use of formaldehyde leads to an increase in the risk of cancer. Formaldehyde is used as a hardening agent in nail polish that helps in the drying process without flaking. When inhaled, it can irritate the eyes and the respiratory tract and as you know, your baby would inhale it almost all the time, even after it dries out.


Formaldehyde Resin

Just as dangerous as formaldehyde, this is known to cause cancer. It is used as a drying agent in nail polish.

Read More: 11 Quick and Easy Home Remedies for Nail Growth

Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP)

This odorless liquid is added to nail polish as an emulsifying agent. It is known to cause congenital disabilities in babies which is why it is called a reproductive toxin. In fact, DBP is banned in a few countries, including Europe as it increases the risk of certain types of cancer.


This chemical helps to maintain the nail polish by preventing it from chipping. When exposed to it on higher levels, it can affect the nervous system as well as cause disorientation and seizures.

Safe Nail Polish Options for Your Baby

Hopscotch Kids and Piggy Paint are some brands that provide water-based nail polishes and polish removers. These are considered to be free of dangerous chemicals and are thus safe for the little ones. Even if you plan to purchase other brands of polish, it is advisable that you check the Environmental Working Group’s nail polish directory. You can check the safety rating for specific products there.


Read More: 51 Crazy and Unbelievably Cool Nail Art Ideas for Teenagers

Do’s and Don’ts While Painting Your Baby’s Nails

You should keep a few things in mind if you decide to paint your baby’s nails. Read below to find more:


  • You can choose lighter colors or transparent ones in the beginning.
  • You can remove the clothes that you want to keep clean as your baby is likely to rub some paint on them unknowingly.
  • Rather than painting fingernails, you can paint your baby’s toenails since they are harder to reach.
  • If your little one wishes to have some while you are painting your nails, you can just fake paint the application of the same on your baby’s fingernails.
  • Try to get your baby to stay still.


  • Do not let your little one know of where you store the colours.
  • Keep the colours out of your baby’s reach.
  • Try painting only the edge and not the whole nail, so that the paint doesn’t come in contact with the skin.


If you plan on purchasing a nail polish for your baby, make sure that you go for one that is free of chemicals. You can go for water-based nail polish which is a far better and safer option for babies.