Worry no more -- you can handle it! Here we bring you tips from the pros, along with advice from real moms on the SheKnows message boards.
When to cut
A newborn's nails grow rapidly -- at least in comparison to the size of their fingers -- and can easily scratch baby and others. So, professionals advise cutting fingernails weekly and toenails, monthly.
A good time to cut them is after a bath when their nails are soft. Also, little ones are usually relaxed after a bath, and, therefore, more likely to cooperate... even if they don't yet know how to follow your directions.
Many parents cut baby's nails when they're sleeping. This technique works well, unless of course you wake up a sleeping baby. So, wait until your little one has slept for most of his nap time, so if you wake him, he won't be as cranky.
Choose your tool
There are a few types of fingernail clippers: some look like scissor-shaped clippers, and others are baby nail clippers (look just like adult clippers, but smaller). There are also manicure scissors, which are curved and have rounded edges so you don't have to worry about poking little one's fingers. They're all good choices, you just have to try them all and use the one that suits you best. SheKnows.com community member Eralc says, "You'll develop a system, don't worry -- and it won't be so frightening!"
1. Get your infant and, if he's squirmy, have another adult help hold him. Have your accomplice keep little one's arm still while you're working on those nails. If your baby doesn't like having his nails cut, then distract him with something. Sara holds her son facing the TV where he stays focused on the colors while she clips his nails. Chelly, meanwhile, has her husband distract her son while she trims his nails. She lays him on the changing table, holds his hands and quickly trims those fingernails.
2. Slide the clippers or scissors under the nail, taking care not to get any of baby's delicate skin in there. It helps to push down the pad of the finger (or the toe) so you can make sure the trimmers are cutting only the nail. Julie, another message board member, says, "Basically what I do is hold her hand so she can't move it, and slide the clippers under the nail and just make a fast snip. Works like a charm, and I've never nicked her one bit." Once sure you're only trimming nail, quickly snip. Go head and let the nail bits fall to the floor. They'll be out of your way and out of baby's reach, and you can clean them up later.
3. Accidents happen. If you do cut a little of baby's skin, get some sterile gauze or cloth (not a cotton ball or tissue, as little bits of fiber can stick to skin and wounds), and gently apply pressure to the cut until the bleeding stops. Then wash the wound and, if you choose, apply some antibiotic cream. There's no need for a bandage, which would be a choking hazard anyway. And don't worry -- it will heal quickly.
4. Is baby having a hard time? Maybe take a break between hands, or between hands and feet, to give him or her a chance to calm down.
4. If you've found an ingrown nail, then you may want to skip trimming that toe (or finger) and instead soothe the area while helping to help free the nail. A warm, wet washcloth or dishtowel held on the sore site a few times a day should gradually help bring the nail out. To help avoid ingrown toenails, cut straight across, and don't taper the sides of the nail.
Some professionals recommend that you sing a certain song while cutting his or her nails. Then sing it when (and only when) it's nail trimming time. This teaches your little one to happily associate the song with their manicure. In fact, moms who use this technique say that when their 6- and 7-month-old babies are hear the song, they hold out their hands, ready for clipping.
Since those little nails grow so fast, you'll be trimming them frequently. Once you see those little scratches on his face after a nap, you'll be reminded that it's time to do it again. But -- scissors or clippers, awake or asleep -- with these tips, you'll nail it every time.