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February 09, 2017
This article was originally published by FitPregnancy.com on Feb. 7, 2017
Nothing incites fear in new parents quite like the thought of sharp objects around baby's delicate fingers. But don't panic—our experts give you advice on the best ways to avoid drawing blood.
BY TINA DONVITO
You're going to have to trim baby's nails, and it will be terrifying. It's one of those things no one tells you about, and then you realize you have no idea how to do it and start panicking about cutting your little one's finger. But you can't just ignore your baby's nails, says Molly Broder, MD, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital at Montefiore in the Bronx, New York. "Babies can very easily scratch themselves if their nails are too long, especially during the first few months of life, as they don't have a lot of control over their arms," she says.
When they're first born, you can put off trimming nails by dressing your baby in long-sleeve onesies with fold-over cuffs, or using mittens or socks on tiny hands. "But as they get older and begin to use their hands to grab and explore, it is better to keep the nails trimmed," Dr. Broder says. Pamela Schoemer, MD, a pediatrician at Children's Community Pediatrics in western Pennsylvania, says untrimmed nails can result in skin infections from scratches, or even scratched eyes! Not to mention that you might get clawed as well while holding or feeding your baby.
If you notice baby's nails feel sharp, it's time to trim them. "Fingernails initially grow quite quickly and may need to be trimmed a few times per week," Dr. Schoemer says. "Toenails are more slow growing and may need this care only a few times per month." Partner up with your spouse for extra hands—babies can be wiggly! "Making it part of a calming routine, such as bathtime, may be best for some families, while others may prefer to complete the task while the baby is asleep," she says. "Whenever you choose, make sure there is adequate light and you have a firm hold on the baby's hand."
OK, so now you know when to do it, but the question remains: How? You've got some options, all with pros and cons. "Whichever you choose, you will want to trim fingernails along the natural curve of the nail and toenails straight across," Dr. Schoemer says. "In both cases, be careful not to trim so short that you invade the nail bed." Dr. Broder says to leave a little bit of white.
Some moms prefer certain ways of trimming to others, so you may have to try a couple of methods to see what works best for you. Whatever you decide, it will be scary at first but get easier with practice. You've got this, mama!
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