How often should I cut my baby's nails?

Baby hand.
Babies' fingernails are soft and flexible, which makes trimming them hard. How often do you need to do it?

Babies can easily endear themselves to adults, simply by wrapping their tiny fingers around the grown-up's thumb. On those tiny fingers, though, are tiny fingernails, which can grow all too fast for parents who are afraid of accidentally nicking their newborn during a nail-trimming session. But not attending to those nails introduces the risk that the baby might easily scratch himself. So, unpleasant as it might seem for both baby and parent, trimming the child's nails is a necessary task. But how often should it be done?

This is a common question for many parents. By the time your child is born, he already has soft, flexible nails that might be difficult to trim but can still leave behind scratches on his smooth skin. In general, as soon as your baby's nails grow out long enough to scratch himself or someone else, they need to be trimmed. Also, keeping your baby's fingernails clipped will do more than just protect his soft skin; it will also help prevent ingrown nails that could require a trip to the pediatrician. It might seem scary at first, but once you get the hang of clipping those nails, you probably won't dread the ritual as much as you once did.


As for how often you need to grab those clippers, it can vary based on how fast your child's fingernails grow. In general, you should make trimming your baby's nails a weekly or semiweekly routine [source: American Academy of Pediatrics]. For newborns, you might find you need to trim the nails more often to keep up with growth [source: KidsHealth]. Some doctors recommend not trimming nails during the baby's first few weeks, because they are so soft and flexible that nicking the skin is a risk. If this is the case, small baby mittens might prevent any scratching damage until the baby's nails grow stronger.

To learn more about caring for your baby's fingernails, visit the links on the next page.


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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • American Academy of Pediatrics. "Ask the Pediatrician." Healthy Children. Summer 2007 (Accessed Oct. 4, 2009)
  • KidsHealth. "Baby Baiscs: Trimming Your Baby's Nails." July 2007. (Accessed Oct. 4, 2009)
  • Perry, Mark. "Caring for Your Baby's Nails." HealthGuidance. (Accessed Oct. 4, 2009)