Tips for trimming baby nails
By Nail Snail
Trimming your little one's nails can be both terrifying and frustrating for all involved but it doesn't have to be.
With these few tips and tricks up your sleeve, nail trimming can be, quite literally, painless.
Why is it so important to keep your child's nails short in the first place?
Even when your baby is first born, their nails can cause some pretty serious scratching, to themselves, you, their siblings and anyone else within arm's reach. While their nails are generally quite soft, they can also be sharp and the skin of a newborn is so very delicate. Their motor control is yet to be refined and so their hands often go flailing. With long nails these movements can easily result in nasty cuts and unnecessary pain for your child. Many parents put mittens on their child's hands to avoid this but this is only a short-term solution; keeping those tiny nails trimmed instead can make the world of difference.
What about when your child starts crawling?
As they begin exploring the world around them, they will find every little thing you don't want them to; they'll get into the bin no matter where you put it; they'll discover the cat poo in the yard; they'll play with the toilet brush in the split second they're out of your sight. Longer nails provide the perfect hiding place for all those nasty germs gathered on their adventures and where will those little fingers inevitably end up? In their mouth, of course. Or even in yours! Keeping your toddler's nail short and clean can help reduce both the spread of germs and frequency of sickness for everyone.
Even though they're less likely to end up in someone's mouth, your child's toenails are also important to consider. Long toenails can create holes in socks, make shoes uncomfortable and easily scratch others, particularly in summer when shoes are only worn when absolutely necessary! Incorrect trimming often causes painful ingrown toenails so it's important to pay particular attention to those little toes.
Another tip to avoid ingrown toenails is to ensure you cut straight across the toenail. With fingernails, however, it is important to follow the natural curve of the fingernail to avoid any sharp points or jagged edges.
So what does make for good practice when trimming those little fingernails and toenails?
If you're like most other parents and caregivers out there, trimming nails is not your favourite activity to do with your child and it's likely that the feeling is mutual. It's important to create a space where you are both relaxed about the task ahead. Make sure you choose a time when your little one isn't tired or fidgety and when you're unlikely to have any interruptions.
Bath time often makes the process a little smoother because baby's nails are going to be much softer after a bath. Depending on which method you use for cutting nails, though, this could be one of the worst times. If you're someone who bites your child's nails to keep them short, doing this after a bath means it is not only the nail that is soft but also the surrounding skin; tearing of the nail and skin becomes a real possibility.
Baby nail clippers are one of the other most common methods of keeping those nails short but the visibility they allow is quite poor. Especially when baby is fidgeting and wants their hands and feet anywhere except where you want them! Most parents use clippers or scissors and have experienced the pain of cutting their precious little one's skin, ending in tears for both child and parent!
So other than trimming them when your baby's nails are soft after a bath, how can you make the whole process easier for all?
You know your baby better than anyone but there are a few tips might be worth a try if you're struggling to find what works for you.
For a start, make sure both you and your baby are comfortable. Put them in a position that they associate with warmth and safety; this will help them to relax. Having something in front of them to hold their attention is useful; their favourite show on television can be ideal. Be careful, though, not to put anything in front of them that will require them to use their hands, such as an iPad; their hands will not be staying still for long!
Ensure you are prepared with the tool you need - whether that's baby clippers or the Nail Snail - and use a steady but firm grip. Have enough light to clearly see what you're doing and involve them in the process; turn it into a game if you can.
Sing a song while you're trimming but obviously not one that requires any hand actions! Sometimes having a treat at the end of it can help as well (a sticker, small toy or their favourite fruit); that way your child learns to associate behaving during the trimming process with a positive outcome. Fingernails grow four times faster than toenails so you'll be spending much more time on them. Once you're in the habit of creating a safe and fun experience when trimming their fingernails, moving on to trimming their toenails will be a breeze.
Next time those little nails are getting a bit long, try these tips and tricks to take the stress out of this essential part of caring for your baby. Trimming nails doesn't have to be scary experience - for anyone!
Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.