How to Cut Your Baby’s Nails

How to Cut Your Baby's Nails

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I’m going to be honest and say that the very first time I cut my baby’s nails I also cut her tiny finger! I want to help you avoid that (maybe for a second time?) by giving you different alternatives for how to cut your baby’s nails.

How to cut your baby's nails - I used a mitten so my baby wouldn't scratch herself with the band-aid after I cut her finger!
My baby sleeping with a mitten on so she doesn’t scratch herself with the huge band-aid mommy put on her finger.

How I cut my baby’s finger?

So, I am normally all about getting to the point of a post – but I HAVE to share this story with you because it actually broke my heart. I was cutting my little one’s nails and she was doing just fine – I had two fingers left until I was done and she started screaming! My husband was holding her and we decided she must just want to move already and she was done being held hostage. My darling husband continues on to joke about “what if you just clipped her, that would be horrible!” I laughed and said I’d feel bad but “I know I didn’t so shut up! You don’t have a bad mommy baby, I’m almost done!”

(I’d like to formally state that if you clip your baby’s finger you are NOT a bad mommy – stuff happens! I was just joking – until I wasn’t because this mommy didn’t even notice! I’m getting there though)

So, I finish up and my husband starts to have her clap and we say yay and try to get her to be happy again. The joking continues, “How terrible would you feel if you actually did clip her finger right now? I can’t even imagine how much it would hurt her; she’d probably be screaming way more!” All while waving her arms around. Finally, in slow motion (I can still see her little finger passing my eyes in my mind’s eye) her little fingers pass in front of me and I see a ‘huge’ dot of blood!

By this point she had stopped crying and mama had started crying because I seriously did it! We were joking about it and not even looking and it happened! Ugh, she is perfectly fine and I have not done it since! But I digress, you are here for tips on how to cut your baby’s nails so here they are!

Choose your tool

The first step to successfully cutting your baby’s nails is to know what tool you plan on using! Here are some of your options:

Baby Nail Clippers

Baby nail clippers like the Safety-First Nail Clippers have been the traditional route for parents for years! If you are looking for simple baby nail clippers then these are great! If you have tried that and you need something else then keep reading!

Baby Nail Scissors

Another alternative for cutting baby’s nails could be baby nail scissors like the Easy Grip Nail Scissors by Frida Baby. If you are more comfortable with nail scissors then these are going to be perfect for you!

Baby Nail File

You could also just file your baby’s nails with a regular nail file for babies such as the Babygoal Newborn Nail File 3 Pack. These work great on your baby’s soft nails.

Electric Baby Nail File

A popular method among parents for cutting your baby’s nails is to use an electric nail file! The most popular one I have found is the Royal Angels BabySafe Electric Baby Nail File! This is honestly a life saver and SO easy to use! My baby loves the light vibrating noise it makes (it’s not obnoxious – it’s very soothing!)

Bite Them

This isn’t my personal favorite, but for some people this is the only way they trust themselves to cut their baby’s nails and that is OKAY! Sometimes, when were out and about and she gets a little hangnail that is bugging her I will bite it off – no judgement here!

Whatever tool you choose, remember that it is important that YOU are comfortable with it! For some, this could mean nail clipping is a two-person job so that everyone stays calm and collected.

Maybe you want your husband to hold the baby and their hand still while you clip, or just comfort that baby and distract them. No matter what you choose, you’re doing great mama.

Perfect Timing

The next step to successfully cutting your baby’s nails is to pick the perfect time to do it. The perfect time to cut your baby’s nails is at the right time! Here are some great times to cut your baby’s nails:

how to cut your baby's nails - do it while they are sleeping

1. Right before bed

They’ll be super sleepy and unwilling to fight you.

2. Right after the bath

Baby’s nails will be super soft and easily able to be cut – hopefully lessening the shock factor from the sound of clipping them!

3. While they are sleeping

If you clip your baby’s nails while they are sleeping then they won’t even know it happened!

Use Distractions

Sometimes distractions are the best way to go about it because it gets them familiar with the idea of getting their nails clipped for when they are older. Here are some great distraction ideas:

While they watch a show or movie

There are some parents that don’t allow their babies to watch tv and that’s okay, this one isn’t for you then! I started out by only letting my 6-month-old watch one episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse per day right after her afternoon nap. I would clip her nails during that time and she would sit perfectly still!

While they are eating

Whether they are eating solids or breastfeeding, it really distracts them from what you’re doing! I have tried both and found that breastfeeding makes cutting her toenails WAY easier!

While taking a bath

Earlier I suggested after the bath, but another great alternative is if your baby loves laying in the bath, then do it there! When my little one was finally able to take baths, SHE LOVED IT! She could be having a horrible day screaming all day – I could put her in the bath and she wouldn’t move! She would put her arms up and relax!

Do they squirm too much?

Some babies don’t cry about nail clipping as much as they do just squirm! I’m not suggesting that you restrain your baby from all movements but find some stress-free ways to limit their movement.

I only really recommend this if a nail trim is absolutely necessary because they are hurting themselves with their nails. If my baby is having a bad day and fighting the clippers then I just skip it and move on – I’ll do it on a better day! Here are some ways to limit their movement if it’s necessary, though:

Swaddle them

You can swaddle your baby, if they are used to it and find it comforting, then pull out one hand at a time.

Put them in their car seat

Again, this is only if they find comfort here! My baby hated the car seat when we first brought her home, now she suffers from FOMO (fear of missing out). She loves when we go in the car because she gets to see so many amazing things as we drive!

Other things to consider

Maybe you have tried all of those or at least thought about them and you still aren’t feeling it – that’s okay, too! Remember, if mama is stressed, nothing is going to go well! Stick to what you’re comfortable with and the time will come! Here are some other things to consider:

Mama, as much as you don’t want to hear it – maybe it’s just YOU.

My little one NEVER let me wipe her off after a messy dinner. I pull out one of my amazing smelling wipes and she would start SCREAMING! I had no idea why, but I continued to wipe her down. One day, dada came over and wiped her off and she was all giggles. From that point forward I fed her and he wiped her off – she never screams anymore.

I’m not saying it to make you feel bad, I’m saying it so you can give it a try and, who knows, maybe this will become somebody else’s job from now on and you got off scot free!

Just wait it out!

If the idea of cutting your baby’s nails is really causing you discomfort, then put some baby mittens on them and call it a day! Wait a few weeks, until you gain the courage and then cut them! I’d say you can wait up to about 6 weeks at most (depending on the nail growth of your baby – but I’m not certified to give professional advice).

I love these baby mittens by Gerber!

What do you think?

Did this help you feel better about cutting your baby’s nails? Let me know if you have any questions in the comments – you’ve got this mama!

Meet Sara

Hiya – I’m Sara! I created SAHMable as a way to help moms navigate motherhood and everything that it entails. From pregnancy, to cooking, to parenting tips, and more I hope you find what you’re looking for. Don’t forget to stop my Freebies page for some helpful and FREE tools to help you on your motherhood journey! 

22 Responses

  1. I was always so terrified to cut both of
    My babies’ nails. They’re just so tiny and fragile lol. This was so informative and you’ve provided some great tips!

  2. I’m so sorry you had that experience! But you’re right, things happen, everyone makes mistakes or has accidents. You’re doing your best and that is just fine! 😊

  3. I can say I have never personally clipped a finger, but their grandmother has definitely done so. For the longest, even still at age 5, my son was terrified to get his fingers trimmed because of it. Recently, his father sat down and showed him how to do it hisself and now he’s unstoppable lol. Thanks for the tips. My daughter has serious claws.

  4. Thanks for sharing. I was terrified to touch my daughters nails when she was baby. I always felt like I was hurting her.

  5. My son is 2yo and I still find it hard to cut his nails! It always leaves me sweaty lol. I used to bite them off as well when he was a baby 😅. Great tips!

  6. I remember being extremely scared to cut my baby’s nails and would keep her hands covered with mittens to save her face from getting scratched with sharp nails. Wish I knew these tips earlier, but shall share the same for my newborn nephew.

    1. I agree! I used to end up leaving them way too long so she would still scratch me and herself so there was no point! It has gotten so much easier though! Thanks for stopping by!

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