How to Clean Newborn Fingernails

As a new parent, taking care of your newborn’s tiny little fingernails can be overwhelming and intimidating. You want to ensure that both you and your baby are safe during the process—after all, those delicate nails have been kept safely tucked inside for nine months! Cleaning newborn-sized nails may feel like an excruciatingly difficult chore for many first-time parents, but with the right tools and techniques, it doesn’t have to be so daunting.

How to Clean Newborn Fingernails

This blog post will provide expert advice on how to clean newborn fingernails in a simple, stress-free manner. Read on to get started.

Needed Requirements

Before you begin cleaning your baby’s nails, it is important to make sure you have the right tools and supplies. Below are some recommendations of items that will help facilitate a safe and successful nail-cleaning experience:

Baby Nail Scissors – these should be specifically designed for tiny infant nails; avoid using regular adult-sized scissors, as they can be too large and may cause injury.

Nail Clippers – these are an alternative to baby scissors and can be used if you find the scissors too difficult to maneuver. Look for a pair that has rounded edges to avoid accidentally nicking your baby’s skin.

Emery Boards – this is a soft, sandpaper-like board that you can use to gently file down any rough edges of your baby’s nails.

10 Steps for How to Clean Newborn Fingernails

Once you have all the necessary equipment, it is time to clean those tiny nails! Follow the steps below:

Step 1: Being Prepared

 Holding Her Securely in Your Arms

Calm your baby by holding her securely in your arms and talking to her in a soothing voice. It will also help to get someone else to hold her steady if you’re not comfortable doing it on your own. But you need to make sure that the person is experienced in handling newborns.

Step 2: Choose the Right Tool

Choose either baby scissors or clippers based on what you’re most comfortable with and your baby’s preferences. Be sure to use gentle, slow movements when cutting or clipping. Otherwise, you might nick the skin or cause undue stress to your baby.

Step 3: Trim Carefully

Start trimming from one side of the nail, then move to the other. Avoid cutting too close to the fingertip, as this could be uncomfortable for your baby and increase the risk of cutting her skin. Trimming carefully can help avoid the need for filing.

Step 4: File Smoothly

Use an Emery Board

If necessary, you can use an emery board to file down any sharp edges or points after trimming. Teach your baby that filing is a pleasant experience by talking in a soothing tone while gently rubbing the emery board over her fingernails. This will also help desensitize her to the sensation of filing.

Step 5: Wash Hands

Once you’re finished, be sure to wash your hands and your baby’s with warm soap and water to prevent any bacteria or dirt from getting transferred back onto their nails. Washing hands will also help reduce the risk of getting a bacterial or fungal infection on your own hands.

Step 6: Repeat Regularly

It is recommended that you clean your baby’s fingernails every few days to keep them looking neat and tidy. This will also reduce the amount of filing required, which is especially important for newborns whose nails are still very thin and delicate.

Step 7: Keep Nails Short

When trimming your baby’s fingernails, be sure to keep them short. Long nails can easily get caught on clothing or in blankets and may cause discomfort for your little one. Keeping the nails short can also help prevent them from scratching their face or skin.

Step 8: Don’t Bite

Although you may be tempted to bite your baby’s nails, this should be avoided at all costs. Not only can it introduce bacteria and germs into your child’s system, but it can also cause injury if you accidentally bite too hard.

Step 9: Monitor Fingernails

Check your baby’s fingernails regularly to make sure they are not growing too long or becoming too sharp. This can help prevent the need for frequent trimming and filing, which is especially important for newborns whose nails are still very thin and delicate.

 Make Sure They Are Not Growing Too Long

Step 10: Seek Help

If you are having difficulty cutting or trimming your baby’s fingernails, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask a friend or family member who is experienced in caring for newborns to assist you or take her to the pediatrician if necessary.

By following these steps, you can keep your baby’s fingernails clean and healthy without causing any harm or discomfort. Just remember to be gentle and use the right tools for the job.

Additional Tips and Advice

  1. Take extra care when cleaning newborns’ fingernails. It is possible to accidentally scratch your baby’s delicate skin with sharp fingernail clippers. Instead, use a soft-bristled brush or a damp cotton swab to clean under the nails.
  2. Don’t forget to keep your baby’s hands moisturized! After cleaning their fingernails, apply a gentle baby lotion to the skin around their nails and hands. This will help protect them from dryness and irritation.
  3. It’s important to keep a close eye on your baby’s fingernails as they grow. As they get older, you may need to use clippers or scissors to trim their nails. Make sure to use baby-safe clippers and scissors designed specifically for this purpose.
  4. If you’re concerned about your ability to safely trim your baby’s fingernails, consider seeking the help of a professional manicurist or doctor. This is especially important if you have any medical conditions that may interfere with your ability to safely trim your baby’s nails.
  5. Don’t forget that keeping your baby’s hands clean and well-groomed is an important part of their overall health and well-being. Making sure their fingernails are cleaned regularly will help them stay healthy and happy.

What to Do in Accidental Cut?

  1. If you accidentally cut your baby’s fingernail too short, don’t panic! Simply apply pressure to the nail bed with a clean cloth and elevate the affected limb above the heart.
  2. Monitor the area around the cut closely for signs of infection or irritation. Though unlikely, an infection could occur if dirt or bacteria gets inside the cut. Monitoring the area can help you catch any signs of infection early. 
  3. If you notice any signs of infection, redness, swelling, or pain at the site of the cut, contact your doctor immediately.
  4. Make sure to keep the area clean until it heals completely and be sure to trim your baby’s fingernails regularly moving forward to help prevent any further mishaps.

Keeping your baby’s fingernails clean and trimmed is an important part of their grooming routine. With the right tools, knowledge, and care, you can ensure that your baby’s nails stay healthy and well-groomed. Remember to always take extra caution when cleaning newborns’ nails, as they have delicate skin that is easily prone to injury. If you have any doubts or concerns, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice and help.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Keep Clean Baby Nails?

The best way to keep a baby’s nails clean is to use a soft-bristled brush or damp cotton swab to gently brush under their nails. Make sure the bristles of the brush are not too hard, as this can cause irritation and even injury. If you need to trim your baby’s nails, use clippers or scissors specifically designed for this purpose. This will help ensure that you don’t accidentally cut too deep or cause any injury.

How Often Should Baby Nails Be Trimmed?

It’s generally recommended to trim your baby’s nails every two weeks or as needed. To keep track of how often you need to trim their nails, pay close attention to their growth rate and trim them accordingly. Remember to always use baby-safe clippers and scissors, as these are designed specifically for this purpose.

How to Clean Baby Fingernails After a Bath?

After giving your baby a bath, you can use a soft-bristled brush or damp cotton swab to clean under their fingernails. Make sure the bristles of the brush are not too hard, as this can cause irritation and even injury. You can also use a gentle baby lotion to help keep the skin around their nails moisturized and protected. Moisturizer is especially important if your baby has dry or sensitive skin.

Keep the Skin Around Their Nails


Keeping your newborn’s nails short and clean doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Using the tips above, you can quickly and easily remove any dirt or debris that may have built up under your nails. Remember to be gentle with your baby and take your time while cleaning their nails.

With a little bit of practice and the guideline on how to clean newborn fingernails, you’ll be able to get the job done in no time. Just be sure to always use the appropriate tools and take any necessary precautions for your baby’s safety. Good luck!

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Loren Jones

Hi, my name is Loren. I live with my husband and 4 lovely kiddos in the Eastern part of San-fransisco. I have a smart beautiful,curious 6 year old daughter, a handsome 11-year-old son, an intelligent and tech geek 15 years old son and a creative, artistic 12-year-old stepson. With each of my kids being five years apart, I feel that I’m now continually phasing in and out of each stage of parenting! I’ve learned a lot about the way children learn and behave, especially in a school setting with regards to curriculum. I enjoy sharing that insight through my writing and hope that it can help others.

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