Tips for Trimming Your Baby's Nails
During a baby's first week or two, some pediatricians recommend gently peeling off any excess nail and using tiny cotton mittens to keep nails covered. But by week 2, most parents add nail trimming to their basic baby care agenda. Babies' nails grow fast and may need trimming more than once each week to keep children from scratching themselves.
How best to approach this stressful-yet-unavoidable task? Here are some nail trimming tips:
- Timing: Try trimming nails while the baby is sleeping (some moms keep safety scissors in the car for impromptu trims during car seat naps). If you'd rather not risk waking the baby, have another grownup distract the baby (perhaps by feeding) while you do the trimming. Another option: Make nail filing part of a daily pre-bath ritual, so nails never need more than a quick rub with an emery board.
- Techniques: If there are two adults sharing the job, one can hold baby while the other does the trimming. If you're flying solo, put the baby in a bouncy seat or car seat. Then, hold the baby's hand firmly and ease the pad of the finger back slightly from the nail. Your goal is to create soft, rounded edges that follow the shape of the finger, rather than cutting straight across. That way, nails grow back without sharp edges. If you happen to nick the baby's finger and draw blood, put pressure on the spot with gauze or a tissue. Avoid bandages for small babies, since they can be a choking hazard.
- Tools: Nail files and emery boards pose no risk, even if the baby is wiggling, but they do require patience. Nail clippers are effective, but it can be hard to see exactly where you're cutting. Safety scissors give you a clear view of the nail as you work. Some parents try biting their baby's nails, assuming it's safer than using a sharp implement. Experts discourage this. You may unwittingly bite off more than you intend and expose the baby to germs from your mouth.
- Polish: Because babies put their fingers in their mouths, standard nail polish isn't a good idea. If you really want to paint baby's nails, choose an all-natural polish (Piggy Paint has gotten some buzz). Many moms opt to polish only toes, figuring they're less likely to go into mouths once early infancy is done.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.