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Nail care for newborns

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Newborn fingernails and toenails are usually soft and flexible, but can cause injuries to the infant. Newborn infants do not yet have control of their 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 eyes.

Clean the baby's hands, feet, and nails during regular bathing. Use of a nail file or emery board is the safest method to shorten and smooth the nails. However, it can be time-consuming.

A second alternative 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 may accidentally 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 the fingernails at least once a week. You may only need to cut the toenails a couple of times per month.


Review Date: 11/2/2009
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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