What Are Baby Nail Clippers?

Judith Smith Sullivan

Baby nail clippers are fingernail clippers made specifically for trimming the nails of infants and toddlers. Usually, they have a narrower mouth than regular nail clippers and are not as sharp. The narrower mouth makes it easier to clip the small nails of a baby. Many baby nail clippers come with additional features like an ergonomic handle grip, integrated light, and magnifying glass to make trimming a baby's nails easier.

Newborn, infant and toddler finger nails grow very quickly.
Newborn, infant and toddler finger nails grow very quickly.

Newborn, infant, and toddler finger nails grow very quickly. Although the nail itself is somewhat thinner and more pliable than an adult nail, it can still cause scratches on the skin and eyes. Newborns are especially prone to scratching themselves because their muscle control is still developing. Keeping the nails trimmed short and smooth is the only way to keep an infant from accidentally scratching themselves.

A pair of fingernail scissors specifically designed for babies may also be used to trim baby fingernails.
A pair of fingernail scissors specifically designed for babies may also be used to trim baby fingernails.

Since a baby's nails are so small, many adults find it hard to trim the nails with regular clippers. The edges are often too thick or too wide to slide under the nail and accurately trim it. The magnifying glass, integrated light, and ergonomic handle all make the job easier for the adult.

Trimming a baby's nail is difficult when he or she is awake. For infants, the lack of muscle controls causes twitching and other unpredictable movements that can result in accidental clipping of skin around the fingernail. Toddler's nails are even more difficult to trim because toddlers are larger, stronger, and usually reluctant to sit still long enough for all ten toenails and ten fingernails to be trimmed. Many adults trim nails while the child is asleep.

There are many styles of baby nail clippers in a range of prices. Most are fairly inexpensive, and some are more practical than aesthetically pleasing. One type of baby nail clippers look identical to adult clippers, except in size and with the exclusion of the folding emery board which is integrated into most adult nail clippers. Many manufacturers make baby nail clippers in bright colors or shaped like animals, but usually the whimsical design doesn't have any effect on the clipper's practical use.

A similar tool is a pair of baby nail scissors. These have a rounded tip to avoid accidentally puncturing skin while precisely trimming the nail. An emery board can also be used to smooth and shorten baby nails to the desired length. This is a popular method, since there is no risk of accidentally cutting the baby's skin.

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Discussion Comments


@MissDaphne - You know, I did pack baby nail clippers, but I couldn't bring myself to use them. Baby gave himself a few good scratches before I got up the nerve, but fortunately they heal very quickly.

Cutting his nails while he was asleep worked well when he was very little and would sleep in a bouncy seat or reclining high chair. But once he got older, I found that he would wake up if I tried to cut his nails while he was asleep, plus he started to nap regularly in his crib (which is not conducive to nail cutting).

Enter Blue's Clues on Netflix. If I sit him in my lap and turn on Blue's Clues on the computer, he wouldn't notice if the house burned down around him!


You might want to pack baby nail clippers when you go to the hospital to deliver. My hospital said that they were not allowed to cut baby's nails for liability reasons! Which is kind of absurd when you think about what parts of your baby they *are* willing to cut, especially if you have a boy!

And babies are actually born needing their nails cut! Because their fingernails start growing quite early in the womb, they can be quite long when baby is born, especially if you go past your due date. So you might want to be prepared to give them a quick trim.

Do *not* try to cut your newborn's nails when s/he is awake. I had a couple of very upsetting accidents. I guess fingertips are a sensitive area, and just a little nick bleeds quite badly.

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