Nail care for newborns

Information

Newborns have fingernails and toenails that are usually soft and flexible but that can cause injuries to the infant. Newborn infants do not yet have control of arm, hand, finger, leg, or foot movements and may inadvertently claw at their face. Nails that are ragged or extend beyond the tip of the finger can cause scratches to the face and possibly eyes.

Newborn infants should receive appropriate nail care. Clean the baby’s hands, feet, and nails during regular bathing. Nails should be carefully trimmed with baby nail scissors that have blunt rounded tips or baby nail clippers. (DO NOT use adult-sized nail clippers - you may clip the tip of the baby’s finger or toe instead of the nail!). Use a soft emery board to keep the nails smooth and prevent injuries. Since baby’s nails grow pretty quickly, you may have to cut fingernails at least once a week. Toenails usually only require cutting a couple times per month.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 3, 2012
by Gevorg A. Poghosian, Ph.D.

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