How do I cut or file my baby’s nails?

The nails of babies and young children grow really fast. This can cause some discomfort, especially in their first weeks. Young babies do not yet have good hand-eye coordination. They make uncontrolled movements and can easily scratch themselves. Because the nails are still very thin and sharp and the baby's skin is very delicate, this often results in a lot of nasty scratches, especially on the face.

Gloves help with sharp baby nails

To prevent your baby from scratching its face, you can use special gloves. This is effective against scratching, but there are also disadvantages. Young babies like to nibble on their hands, and this isn’t very pleasant if the hands are covered in fabric. Furthermore, fluff from the fabric will end up in their mouth, which isn’t nice either. Finally, the gloves can loosen quickly, after which they come off and will probably get lost.

Applying Vaseline to the cheeks to prevent scratches

Applying Vaseline as a protective barrier is another way to prevent your baby from scratching its face. The downside, however, is that your baby’s face will constantly be greasy, and this isn’t always very pleasant. Also, you have to continuously apply the Vaseline throughout the day as hands, blankets and clothes will gradually wipe it away.

Keeping the nails short with a baby manicure set

Keeping the nails short with a baby manicure set

It is probably most effective to just keep your baby’s nails short. Some children allow their parents to “nibble off” the sharp edges with their own teeth. It is difficult, however, to do this in a precise manner. A baby manicure set can offer a solution.

In the first weeks, it is better to file the nails instead of cutting them. Cutting makes the edge even sharper, which can lead to nasty scratches, even though the nails are short. Also, cutting those tiny nails can be quite a tricky job and you might be scared that you will cut into your baby’s finger.

The easiest and most effective option is to file the nails. But what is the best way to do this? A baby won’t just stick out its hand to let you file the nails. The best time to do it is when your baby is fast asleep or when your baby is distracted by feeding, a game or a toy.

Father with child

During the first few weeks, babies will naturally make a fist more often than they stretch out their fingers. Young babies have a reflex to make a fist when you gently rub the palm of their hand. You can use this reflex when cutting the nails. How does this work?

  • Wait until the baby is quiet and relaxed. 
  • You can stimulate the child by giving them your index finger or thumb. Usually, the child will grab it firmly. 
  • This makes it easier to reach all the nails, without having to stretch the fingers one by one (which will often create resistance).

What is a good baby file?

It is important to use a file that has a very fine grit, instead of a coarse file. A coarse file will only damage the soft baby nails and give them rough edges. A fine grit can round off the nails nicely without damaging the nail.

When filing, it is important not to move the file back and forth, because that can still cause rough edges. Try to constantly move the file in the same direction.

Baby manicure set - Deluxe

The Difrax Deluxe manicure set contains a glass file with a fine grit. The good thing about glass files is that they have a much finer grit than, for example, cardboard files that are usually used for babies. In addition, they don't wear out, which makes them super durable. Glass is also easy to clean, which makes it a very hygienic product. You simply rinse the glass file under the tap (with or without soap) or even wipe it off with alcohol, if you want.

Switching to cutting with a small baby nail clippers later on can be quite a challenge. The Difrax Deluxe manicure set includes an ergonomic nail clipper with an extra-wide grip to prevent the clipper from slipping out of your hands.