Baby Mani Pedi

clippersBabies grow fast! They double their size in the first three months, and that means cutting baby’s nails every few days. The best time to do this is when the baby is sleeping because the hands (and feet) will be relaxed. Consider doing it right before baby wakes from a nap, although sometimes you may only one hand at a time.

Clippers are a good choice. They come in different sizes as your child grows. You can also use safety scissors. Emery boards and nail files also work, but they take longer. Biting your baby’s nails can cause infection. Peeling lacks precision.

Cut straight across the nail and leave enough white–a millimeter or two–you don’t want to cut the nail too short. Avoid angling the sides. This is where parents sometimes get into trouble. If there is bleeding, apply pressure with gauze or a clean cloth and monitor the area for infections. Bandages  don’t work well on baby since they put their hands in their mouths and the bandage can be a choking hazard.

Whatever tools you use: keep them clean. Consider keeping baby’s set for baby. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions or wipe with rubbing alcohol and air dry to avoid rust and damage.

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About Lisa M. Asta, MD

Lisa M. Asta, M.D. is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, for which she is also a Media Representative (she has been interviewed for “Kids Health” on Health Radio, and quoted in Parenting Magazine, USA Today, and the New York Times, among other publications). She is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California at San Francisco and past pediatric chair at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek. She graduated from Temple University School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Asta is also a writer whose fiction has appeared in Inkwell, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill, and Zeniada. Her essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Hippocrates, the San Jose Mercury News, and The New Physician Magazine. She is an occasional contributor to KQED public radio’s Perspectives series, and has written articles for Bay Area Parent, Valley Parent, Parents’ Press, and Parents Express, as well as online at,, and She wrote a chapter in The Field Guide to the Normal Newborn, ed. Gary Emmet, M.D. currently has two how-to videos for parents in production which feature Dr. Asta. For more on Dr. Asta’s writing, visit
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