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Newborn Basics

Q&A: Newborn Nail Care?

I'm terrified to cut my newborn's nails — any tips?

The safest way to keep a newborn’s nails short is to just file them and not cut them at all. Since the skin of the fingers is usually attached to the back of the nail, cutting the nails often results in nipping the fingertip too (ouch!). Even though the bleeding is minor and can be stopped quickly with a little pressure, it's very upsetting to the parent — and always seems like a lot more blood than it really is! Once baby is a little older (18 months), you can cut their nails while they’re asleep.

By Dr. Paula Prezioso, MD, is in private practice at Pediatric Associates of New York City and is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the NYU Medical School.