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Nail care for newborns

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Newborn fingernails and toenails are usually soft and flexible. However, if they are ragged or too long, they can hurt the baby or others. It is important to keep your baby's nails clean and trimmed. Newborns do not yet have control of their movements. They may scratch or claw at their face.

  • Clean the baby's hands, feet, and nails during regular bathing.
  • Use a nail file or emery board to shorten and smooth the nails. This is the safest method.
  • Another option is to trim nails carefully with baby nail scissors that have blunt rounded tips or baby nail clippers. Do NOT use adult-sized nail clippers. You could clip the tip of the baby's finger or toe instead of the nail.

Since baby's nails grow pretty quickly, you may have to cut the fingernails at least once a week. You may only need to cut the toenails a couple of times per month.


Review Date: 11/7/2011
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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