5 Top Tips for Clipping Your Baby's Nails

By Jennifer Bright

January 21, 2020 5 min read

In the category of Who Knew This Would Be So Hard, clipping a baby's fingernails and toenails can be a real challenge. Coming at your baby with a pointy object is just not fun — for you or for him. When my sons were babies, I was really surprised at how much anxiety having to clip their nails caused me. I remember one time nicking one of my sons, and I felt really, really bad.

A baby's fingernails need to be clipped very often, but have you noticed that your baby's toenails don't need to be clipped as frequently? It's not your imagination! Toenails do grow quite a bit slower than fingernails.

After clipping your baby's nails, why not reward yourself with having your own

nails pampered? A manicure and pedicure is a great treat. It's a joy to have someone take

care of you for a change.

Here's how our mommy M.D.'s — doctors who are also mothers — clip their own babies' nails.

"I had the easiest time clipping my babies' fingernails while I was nursing them or when they were on the changing table because those are both times when they were calmest," says Jennifer Bacani McKenney, M.D., a mom of two and a family physician in Fredonia, Kansas. "When my babies were really young, I often had to clip their fingernails almost every other day to keep them from scratching their faces. I put mittens on them a lot of the time, too."

"My twins hated to have their nails cut," says Jennifer Gilbert, D.O., a mom of twins and OB-GYN at Paoli Hospital in Pennsylvania. "What I finally started to do was to sit them on my lap in front of the TV! I would cut their nails when there was a show on that really captured their attention like 'Yo Gabba Gabba.' I also gave them an extra set of clippers to play with so they're not trying to grab mine. I must admit I used to get far behind on their toenails. I just prayed no one looked at their feet!"

"I had often heard that you should cut your baby's fingernails and toenails while she's sleeping," says Kristie McNealy, M.D., a mom of four and a health care consultant in Salt Lake City. "My babies never slept much, so I certainly wasn't going to risk waking them up by clipping their nails! When my babies were really little, I found that instead of clipping them, it was easier to file them. That way I didn't worry about accidentally cutting their skin."

"Nail trimming is a surprisingly challenging experience," says Stacey Weiland, M.D., a mom of three and a gastroenterologist in Denver. "Babies tend to curl their fingers inward for the first several months. Further, their nails are tiny and very soft. My husband seemed better able to handle this job than I did. (I actually cut off at least one layer of skin on at least two of my kids when I tried to do it!)

"Baby nail clippers are available, which are smaller in size and better suited for little fingers," Dr. Weiland continues. "Sometimes it's easier to have two adults working at once: one holding out the finger and the other doing the cutting."

Dr. Rallie's Tips

"My youngest son was a wiggle worm from the moment he was born. As soon as he was able, he would try to slither away from me whenever I tried to change his diaper or dress him. There was no way he was going to sit still long enough to have all of his fingernails and toenails trimmed!

"I finally figured out that if I waited till he was sound asleep, I could clip his nails without the slightest bit of resistance. I used that trick until he was 3 or 4 years old."

— Rallie McAllister, M.D., M.P.H., mom of three, co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to Your Baby's First Year," nationally recognized health expert and family physician in Lexington, Kentucky

Jennifer Bright is a mom of four sons, co-founder and CEO of family- and veteran- owned custom publisher Momosa Publishing, co-founder of the Mommy MD Guides team of 150+ mommy M.D.s, and co-author of "The Mommy MD Guide to the Toddler Years." She lives in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. To find out more about Jennifer Bright and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: RitaE at Pixabay

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