The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Cutting your baby's fingernails

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cutting your baby's fingernails

Nurses in the nursery don't even clip baby's fingernails!  Even back 36 years ago, that was the case.  Baby's fingernails are delicate, but still need to be clipped.  Here is some great advice from my friends at www.babysittingjobs.com:

When parents bring home their newborn infant, it doesn’t take long to notice their tiny little fingernails. They’re not only totally adorable, they grow really fast and they’re incredibly sharp. If those fingernails don’t get trimmed regularly, the baby will inadvertently scratch themselves and you. This may seem like a simple task until you try it for the first time. Babies are notoriously squirmy and those nails are so tiny that clipping them can be a challenge. If you are a new parent or caring for a young infant, here are some tips for clipping a baby’s fingernails.
  1. Baby clippers – The first thing I would recommend is to purchase some special tools. Adult fingernail clippers and scissors are bulky and can end up harming your baby. Use clippers or scissors especially made to care for infants and your task will be much easier.
  2. Press their finger – You want to clip only the nail and not the end of the finger, but this can be difficult. If you press down on the top of the baby’s finger it pulls the skin away from the nail so the fingernail is much easier to get at.
  3. Emery board – Use an emery board to file off the sharp edges of the fingernail. If you do this often enough you can eliminate the clipping process altogether. For parents that are worried about clipping the skin, filing the nail may be a more comfortable way to go.
  4. During feeding – Another tip is to do the fingernail clipping when your baby is relaxed and not squirming too much. During feeding the baby is concentrating on food so it’s a good time to clip the nails.
  5. When sleeping – The best time to clip your baby’s fingernails is when he/she is sleeping. If your baby is sound asleep you can get the nails clipped in a flash with no drama or trauma. When baby awakes the fingernails are all trimmed and he/she didn’t even know it happened.
  6. After a bath – Babies fingernails are softest right after a bath. This is an excellent time to get the clippers out. The only problem is holding a squirmy, wet, slippery baby!
  7. Get help – If you need to clip your baby’s nails when he/she is awake, get some help. One person can hold the baby while the other does the clipping. This is especially helpful as the baby gets older and may start to resist when you want to trim the nails.
  8. Use a diversion – For babies that really start to rebel when it’s time to clip the nails, you may want to create a diversion. Use a favorite toy or food to distract the baby while you get the trimming done.
  9. Don’t over-clip – It can be tempting to trim the nails as far as you can to avoid doing it so often. This can be a big mistake since you risk hurting the baby by nicking the tender skin under the nail. Make sure you clip the white part of the nail but leave a sliver so you don’t over-clip.
  10. Do it often – Since the baby’s fingernails grow so fast, you will need to clip them often. This can be 2 or 3 times a week at first but less often as they grow. Keep an eye on those fingernails and don’t let them get too long between clippings.
Your baby’s toenails also need to be clipped regularly, but not quite as often. Since toenails are thicker, this is definitely easier after a bath. Don’t beat yourself up if you accidentally clip your baby’s skin. This happens and will heal quickly. Press a tissue or cotton ball on the finger until the bleeding stops and don’t use a bandage that the baby could choke on. As with everything else, practice makes perfect. It won’t take long before you’re clipping your baby’s fingernails with ease.

Happy parenting!

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