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Trimming a Newborn's Nails

One task that can be nerve-wracking for new parents is trimming the teeny-tiny nails on their newborn's precious fingers. If you're a nervous new parent, I get it—it's a scary job! Read on to learn why nail trimming is so important and learn how to do it safely.

Why Trimming Newborn Nails is Important

Newborns have surprisingly sharp nails, and because they lack control over their movements, they can easily scratch their face or your skin. Some parents opt to use baby mitts as a solution to scratching, but mitts are frustrating for babies who instinctively use their hands to comfort and self-soothe.

Regular trimming is the best solution to keep your baby safe and comfortable.

When to Start

You might notice that your baby's nails grow quickly, even within the first week after birth. As soon as you see that the nails are long enough to potentially cause scratches, it’s time to start trimming them.

Here is my step-by-step guide for making your nail-trimming process as smooth and stress-free as possible.

How to trim a Newborn's Nails

Tools You’ll Need

  • Baby Nail Clippers or Scissors: These are designed specifically for tiny, delicate nails.

  • Baby Nail File: Use a baby nail file to smooth out any rough edges after trimming. You can choose a regular or electronic one—both are absolutely fine.

  • Good Lighting: You'll want proper lighting to see what you’re doing.

  • A Partner or Helper (Optional): An extra pair of hands sometimes makes all the difference.

1. Choose the right time:

The best time to trim your baby's nails is when they are sleeping or very calm, like after a feeding; this reduces the chance of sudden movements.

2. Prepare your tools:

Make sure your nail clippers (or scissors) and nail file are clean and within reach. Having everything ready beforehand helps make the process smoother and safer.

3. Create a calm environment

Find a quiet, well-lit area. You might play some soothing music or white noise. Speak sweetly or sing to your baby to keep them calm.

4. Hold your baby securely:

If you have a helper, have the other person hold your baby while you trim. If you're alone, you may want to swaddle your baby to help keep them still.

5. Trim the nails:

  • Hold your baby’s finger firmly but gently.

  • Then, use your thumb to gently push back the fingertip from the nail, creating a little space between the nail and the skin.

  • Next, trim the nail straight across. Avoid trimming too close to the skin.

  • If using scissors, make small snips to prevent cutting too much at once.

6. Smooth the edges:

After trimming, use the nail file to gently file the nails, smoothing any sharp or rough edges.

7. Repeat for each finger and toe:

Be patient and take your time. It's okay to trim one or two nails at a time. If your baby becomes fussy, take a break and try again later.



  • Stay calm: Staying calm and confident can help make the experience less stressful for you and your baby.

  • Keep the nails short: Regularly trimming your baby’s nails helps avoid scratches on their face and skin. Newborn nails grow quickly, so you may need to cut them more than once a week

  • Don't panic: If you accidentally nick your baby's skin, don't panic. Apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth to stop any bleeding and keep the area clean.

Things to avoid:

  • Biting your baby's nails: This can introduce bacteria and cause infection.

  • Using adult nail clippers: These are too large and not designed for the delicate nails of a newborn.

Trimming your newborn’s nails can feel daunting, but with patience and practice, it will become a routine part of your baby care regimen. Remember, keeping those nails short helps protect your baby from accidental scratches, making both of you a little more comfortable.

Happy trimming!



Have questions about newborn care? Need a little help? Contact me! I love helping new families settle in with their newborns. <3

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