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How to cut your baby’s toenails

While trimming your own nails is a relatively simple task, cutting those of a new born can be a pretty daunting task for any new parent.


The nails on a baby’s hands and feet are soft and flexible, growing relatively quickly. It is easy for them to become long and even ragged, causing problems if the baby scratches their face in the earliest weeks – before he or she learns to be able to control their own movement. For this reason, most people agree it is best to keep the nails trimmed short. Their finger nails might need to be cut down twice a week, whilst the more slowly growing toe nails could be done less regularly.

We asked the foot experts at how to tackle the tricky issue.

Given time, the baby’s nails will eventually harden and there will be a clear free edge. Until then, the nail might follow the curve of the toe or finger and it can be difficult to work out a suitable length to cut away. Trim the nail too low and the baby’s finger will start to bleed, which can be pretty distressing for the parent. In the first few days, the baby will have nails so soft that they will simply peel away. A nail file is the safest method at this time, while the nails are soft and the skin delicate. Baby nail files are available, but normal emery boards will also work well. Baby nail clippers or scissors are designed to cut the very small nails, but take care to avoid cutting the skin. 

If the skin is caught, simply press a piece of damp cotton wool onto the cut area and hold it until the bleeding stops. It might be easier to have another adult to assist whilst trying to cut the baby’s nails in this way, as they can try and prevent the baby from wriggling too much while you are able to focus on holding the finger still. It can also be easier to try and cut the baby’s nails when he or she is particularly calm, such as when feeding or while sleeping.

Pay particular care when cutting the toe nails, as there is a definite shape to maintain. It’s important to cut the toe nails straight across at the end, not too short and without cutting into the side areas, as this is how ingrown toe nails are formed.




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