Cutting nails

Your newborn has soft nails. As your baby gets older, the nails dry out. This means your baby can scratch himself.

closeup of baby's fingernails

Use an emery board to smooth out rough edges.

When your baby is a few days old, use an emery board to smooth out rough edges.

After a few weeks, use a small nail clipper or scissors.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Guide for the Care of Children: Ages Birth to 5 Years Old, fifth edition. To avoid awkward sentences, instead of referring to your child as "he/she" or "him/her," this guide will alternate between "he" or "she" and "him" or "her."
Reviewed By: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts, including the Pediatric Department of Allina Health Coon Rapids Clinic
First Published: 02/01/2010
Last Reviewed: 01/01/2016

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Your baby's nap time is a great time to smooth out or clip finger or toenails.