Jul 2, 2012  •  In Baby, Parenting, Tutorials

How to Cut Babies’ Nails

I used to dread cutting my children’s nails.

I know that many mothers do it while their babies are asleep, but my kids sleep in dark rooms (with black-out curtains) so that idea is out. I also know some mom bite their babies’ nails. Well, those moms must have really sharp teeth because I have found that practically impossible!

Confession: while attempting to clip their nails, I have cut into both Claire and Aerin’s skin several times. And as any decent mother can tell you, making your own child bleed her own blood (anyone know what movie that’s from? ;-) ) ranks up there with being covered in a thousand paper cuts and getting dipped in a vat of sweat.

But all that changed a couple of months ago when my mother saw me struggling to clip Aerin’s nails…

“No, don’t do it like that! Line up the bottom blade with her nail!”

And it clicked. Why hadn’t I realized this before??! Because clipping my own nails had become so natural to me that I had not recognized this tiny yet significant detail.

Not sure what I’m talking about? Here is a simple diagram:

Previously, I had been doing this:

Or this:

Once again, the correct way to cut a baby’s fingernail (or anyone‘s nail, for that matter) is to line up the nail with the bottom blade, like so:

I am proud to say that all of our nail-clipping sessions have been tear-free and blood-free since I started using this method.

Now, you might be reading this and shaking your head, thinking, “Wow, what a moron. This lady didn’t even know how to cut a fingernail!”

But if you are another mom who has trouble clipping their children’s nails (and I know you are out there), I hope that this simple tip will help make your clipping sessions a bit less painful. :-) 

9 Responses to “How to Cut Babies’ Nails”

  1. This will be very useful knowledge when my baby will finally sit still to get her nails clipped. Right now, even if I try to grab her hands, she flails them around and screams like I’m trying to chop off her fingers and not her talons of death. So I can only really cut them when she’s sleeping in the carseat (because in the crib she sleeps face down on top of her hands). Better that than to give her a lifelong phobia of hand holding!! ;)

    • The only way that Claire would sit still through nail clipping sessions was if I sat her in the Bumbo in front of the TV. (This is what I do now with Aerin too.) Now that Claire’s older, I bribe her with Flintstone vitamins — “If you let mommy cut your nails I’ll give you a vitamin!” — and this works like a charm. :-D

  2. And LIGHT! Natural light is best for seeing where the nails end, but a flashlight right on their hands will work too. The flashlight route means it usually takes two people – one holding the flashlight, one doing the clipping – but it’s Amazing with a capital A how much easier it is. I also like to run my fingernail underneath theirs to really separate the skin from the nail. And of course – sitting in front of the tv once they’re old enough is our trick too. :)

  3. theresa:

    I’m with Brooke! My little girl won’t stop kicking for flailing long enough for me to clip her nails. I’ve given up on her fingers and let my husband handle those. Usually I can manage her toenails while she’s sitting in the bumbo and eating. I don’t know what I’ll do when she gets too big for the bumbo!
    But either way great visual on the nails, thank you I’ve never thought of it that way but I will from now on!

  4. My trick- use this kind of cuticle trimmer/clipper instead of the traditional curved bladed nail clippers:
    http://www.goodluckbuy.com/images/detailed_images/2112626810764b42fbf43180f.jpg

    I had trouble with the rounded kind going too far down for me to cut the top of the nail without cutting into the fingertip. This straight edged one takes a couple of snips per nail, but because it’s much smaller than a nail clipper and straight edged, it’s much more precise.

  5. You’re also supposed put your finger on the pad or tip of their finger and pull back gently towards the hand. This gives you more space between the nail and the finger and makes it easier to aim.

  6. Carrie:

    Dodge Ball!?!? “Nobody makes me bleed my own blood!” ????

    I use a cuticle trimmer http://tinyurl.com/6np4odv – It’s the greatest for clipping my sons nails. Nowadays I have to team up with his dad to cut his nails and we usually do it during his nighttime bottle.

  7. Kate:

    I just use cuticle scissors (thin, small nail scissors,) instead of clippers on my (now 8months old) daughter. Done that since she was born, as I was terrified of hurting her. And it works so incredibly well! No problems at all.

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