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How to Cut Baby's Nails
Updated on
September 11, 2023

How to Cut Baby's Nails

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How to Cut Baby's Nails

It’s totally normal to feel nervous at the thought of taking sharp metal clippers to teeny, tiny baby nails. With the right tools and a little practice, we promise the job isn’t quite as daunting as you may think.

We’re here to break down Baby Nail Clipping 101 step by step and show you the best products to keep your baby’s nails short and smooth—and keep you cool, calm and collected.

Step One: Get the Right Tools

There are a few types of baby nail clippers, each with their own set of pros and cons. Choosing what’s right for you is going to depend a lot on personal preferences. Since most baby nail clippers are fairly affordable, you may want to test out a few different types to see what’s most comfortable.

The Best Baby Nail Clippers

Basic baby nail clippers are just what they sound like—standard adult nail clippers, but sized down for tiny fingers and toes. Many have a few extra safety and convenience features built in like ergonomic handles, magnifying glasses and LED lights. These types of features certainly aren’t necessary, but if they help you get the job done, then we’re totally here for them.

Best Scissors for Baby Nails

Unlike classic clippers, nail scissors won’t leave a sharp edge on baby’s nails, and most have a rounded tip for safety. Scissors can often have small handles that are a tough fit for adult hands and fingers, so look for an option with an ergonomic handle like Fridababy’s Easy Grip Nail Scissors.

What about electric nail trimmers for babies?

You may see some electric nail trimmers out there. These aren’t clippers, but are instead more like mini battery-operated nail files. You’re welcome to try them if you’re curious, but many parents say they’re more like a nail buffer than a trimmer. And if your baby’s nails are on the softer side, an electric trimmer might only bend them instead of trimming them down.

Step Two: Cut to It

Once you’ve decided which nail clipper works best for you, it’s time to get cutting. Start by taking a nice, deep breath. Cutting tiny nails can be stressful, but the calmer you are, the calmer your little one will be.

  • Get comfy and secure. You’ll want to position your baby in a way that gives you the most access to their nails while also keeping them safe. Try placing baby facing outward on your lap. It’s also okay to wait until baby is asleep, but just be sure you have a good hold on their hand or foot in case they wake up.
  • Get a good grip. If you’re cutting fingernails, hold your little one’s palm in one hand and your clippers in the other. Babies, especially really young ones, tend to clench their fists a lot, so applying a little pressure at the top of the hand can help spread out your baby’s fingers and make your job a bit easier. If you’re cutting toenails, gripping your little one’s foot in the same way you would their hands will help you get better access to those tiny toenails.
  • Snip, snip. For fingernails, make two angled cuts—one on each side of each nail—then one cut straight across. For toenails, one cut straight across should get the job done.

Step Three: Smooth It Out

You’re almost there! To finish the job, you’ll want to make sure you haven’t left behind any jagged edges.

Some baby nail clippers come with a nail file, like the SnipperClipper set from FridaBaby. We especially love this file because of its unique S-curve, making it easier to file your baby’s nails without twisting your arm into an awkward angle.

If you just need a simple file option, we love this 3-pack from Angel Love. They’re safe to the touch but still get the job done and are sized down for tiny fingers and toes.

Cutting Toddler Nails

Trying to figure out how to cut the nails of an always-on-the-move toddler? Distraction is the name of the game when it comes to nail clipping with mobile kiddos.

If you’re okay with screen time, now’s the time to break out a little Elmo or Daniel Tiger to hold your little one’s attention while you snip away. If screens aren’t your thing, we recommend a small interactive toy to keep them distracted.

What if you cut baby’s finger?

Many parents have been there, so don’t feel too terrible. And try to stay calm.

If it’s a large cut or won’t stop bleeding, you’ll want to contact your pediatrician or head to the ER. For minor cuts, apply pressure until the bleeding stops, then clean out the wound with soap and water. You can apply a small amount of antibacterial ointment after cleaning, but steer clear of a bandage as it’s a choking hazard.

This information is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. We do not accept any responsibility for any liability, loss or risk, personal or otherwise, incurred as a consequence, directly or indirectly, from any information or advice contained here. Babylist may earn compensation from affiliate links in this content. Learn more about how we write Babylist content and review products, as well as the Babylist Health Advisory Board.