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Cut Baby’s Finger With Nail Clippers? What To Do & How To Prevent It Next Time

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Having a new baby is a scary time for parents. After nine long months of waiting, suddenly you are responsible for this tiny human being who depends on you for everything.

Life with a newborn baby is pretty terrifying, to say the least! One baby care task that may not seem like a big deal but is in fact extremely anxiety-inducing, is clipping your baby’s fingernails.

Clipping your baby’s nails is easier said than done and occasionally parents accidentally cut their baby’s finger with nail clippers. 

If you cut your baby’s finger with nail clippers, try not to panic. You will need to wash your hands quickly and wash your baby’s fingers using soap and water.

Once you have cleaned the injured area, you will need to apply pressure to the cut using sterile cloth. Once the bleeding stops you can then apply a bandage to your baby’s finger to help keep the cut clean and infection out.

However, if after applying pressure for a while the cut does not stop bleeding, or you notice signs of infection, you will need to get your baby seen by a doctor.

How To Safely Cut a Baby’s Finger Nails?

Cutting baby fingernails and tiny toenails is not easy. It is a fine art, it takes a lot of concentration and precision to cut your baby’s nails without causing any accidental harm.

Baby’s nails are small but deceptively sharp and when they are not regularly trimmed, they can cut your baby’s delicate skin. It is very common for babies to scratch their faces if their nails are not kept short.

Babies accidentally scratch the smooth skin of their cheeks when they wave their arms around; newborns are yet to develop their coordination and will often rub their hands across their faces by mistake. 

I know this task seems impossible, cutting your baby’s miniature nails with a pair of baby nail clippers or scissors, but it is possible.

If you want to avoid cutting your baby’s finger while cutting their nails, follow this guide on how to trim your baby’s nails safely: 

Use a baby nail clipping kit

Do not try and cut your baby’s nails using your regular nail clippers or a pair of nail scissors that you use to cut your own nails.

Your baby’s nails are tiny and delicate and will need to be trimmed using equipment that is designed specifically for baby fingernails.

Using standard size nail clippers is just asking for trouble, if you want to keep your baby out of harm’s way buy a baby nail clipping kit. You could also check out our 10 Best Baby Grooming Kits for 2021 here for some other options.

File doesn’t cut

If your baby’s nails aren’t too long, gently filing them down with an emery board may be your safest and easiest option. Avoid using a metal file as this will be too hard for the soft skin surrounding your baby’s nail.

Instead, use an emery board. This method will take longer than just trimming your baby’s nails with clippers but if you are gentle, there is very little chance you are going to end up hurting your baby. 

Make sure you have good lighting

Don’t try and trim your baby’s nails if you are struggling to see in a dimly lit room. To keep those clippers away from your baby’s skin, you need to be able to see what you are doing. Make sure you are in a well-lit room and can easily see your baby’s nails.

Hold baby’s hand still

It is very difficult to get a baby to stay completely still while you trim their nails. Try holding your baby’s hand steady with one of your hands while you carefully trim them with the other.  The stiller your baby is the less likely you will be to accidentally cut them. 

Cut them while your baby sleeps

The best way to make sure your baby is still while you trim their nails is to do it while they sleep. If your baby is sleeping their hands will likely be relaxed, making it easier for you to safely trim their nails. 

Cut straight across and around the edges

You will need to cut your baby’s nails straight across the top and round off the edges. Baby nail clippers are often rounded making it really easy to get the correct shape and to avoid any jagged edges on your baby’s nails. 

Stop if you need to

If your baby is getting distressed or you are finding it very difficult to keep them still, stop trying to trim their nails. You can always return to the task when your baby is calmer or when they are asleep.

Continuing to cut your baby’s nails when they are wriggling and upset is just asking for trouble. It is much safer to leave your baby with long nails for a little while longer than it is to risk cutting their skin while they are finding it hard to remain still. 

What To Do If You Cut Baby’s Finger With Nail Clippers?

Accidents happen and you may have followed all the guidelines above and still ended up cutting your baby’s finger with nail clippers. Firstly, try not to panic or let the mom’s guilt set it. It was an accident and your baby is going to be ok. 

If you cut your baby’s finger with nail clippers, here is a list of the steps you need to take: 

Wash your hands

Quickly wash your hands so you are clean and free from germs, ready to clean and dress your baby’s wound. 

Clean baby’s finger

Using mild soap and water, gently wash your baby’s finger and the skin surrounding the cut. Nail clippers can be covered in several bacteria and germs so you will need to clean the cut as best you can to prevent infection. 

Apply pressure to the cut

It is important to try and stop the bleeding as quickly as possible. Apply gentle but firm pressure to the wound using a clean washcloth or a fresh piece of gauze. Keep applying pressure until the bleeding stops. 

Dress the wound

Once the bleeding stops, which should take only a few minutes for a minor injury, you can then dress the wound if you feel it is necessary. It is not always essential to wrap up a cut.

However, if you want to keep the wound protected from germs and catch any blood, you may choose to wrap it. It is advised not to use a Band-Aid on your baby’s finger when possible as your baby may suck on their hands and accidentally swallow it. 

In most instances, if you cut your baby’s finger with nail clippers the cut will rarely be deep enough to require any professional medical attention. Following the steps above will help you to keep your baby’s wound clean and it should not take too long to heal.

However, occasionally nail clippers can cause deep cuts or even remove a chunk out of your baby’s skin. If this happens to your baby, you will need to take your baby to have the wound properly treated by a doctor. 

Cut Baby’s Finger While Clipping Nails and It Won’t Stop Bleeding 

When you apply pressure to a cut on your baby’s finger, the bleeding should cease quite quickly. The general rule is a cut should stop bleeding within 10 minutes.

Ideally, you want to stop the cut from bleeding as quickly as possible and most bleeding will subside after just a few minutes when gentle but firm pressure is applied. 

However, if the bleeding hasn’t stopped after a few minutes, there are a few steps you can take to try and stop it: 

  • Hold their hand up above their head.
  • Continue to apply firm yet gentle pressure.  

If the bleeding hasn’t stopped after ten minutes, you will need to call a doctor for advice. Your baby may need to have their wound dressed professionally or they may even need stitches or a tetanus shot. 

Does My Baby Need a Tetanus Jab For Cut On Finger?

According to the CDC, it is easy to contract a tetanus infection, even when cut with household objects like nail clippers. However, you do not need to go rushing your baby to the doctor’s for a tetanus jab if they are up to date on their vaccination program. 

Your baby will receive a DTaP vaccination when they are 2, 4, 6, and 15 months of age. They will then receive a booster shot when they are 4-6 years old.

If your child is not up to date with their inoculations or you are concerned they have developed tetanus from a cut on their finger, here is a list of tetanus symptoms to look out for: 

  • Jaw cramping or “lockjaw”
  • Muscle spasms or involuntary muscle tightening
  • Painful muscles or stiffness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Seizures (jerking or staring)
  • Headache
  • Fever and sweating
  • Changes in blood pressure and elevated heart rate

Following cutting your baby’s finger with nail clippers, if they develop any of the above symptoms of tetanus you will need to get them seen by a doctor to avoid serious infection. 

What To Do If You Cut Baby’s Nails Too Short?

Accidentally cutting your baby’s skin isn’t the only damage you can do with a pair of nail clippers. Sometimes parents can unintentionally cut their baby’s nails too short too – oww!

Cutting nails too short can be really painful for your baby as you may expose the hyponychium beneath their fingernail. The hyponychium acts as a barrier, preventing germs and dirt from getting into the deeper parts of your nail bed.

When nails are cut too short, this protective barrier can be exposed and without the protection of the top of a fingernail, the hyponychium can be easily irritated, become sensitive, and cause a lot of pain. 

There is not much you can do if you cut a baby’s nails too short. It is important to keep your baby’s hands and finger clean to prevent germs from potentially infecting the exposed skin and the damaged protective barrier.

Keep a close eye on your baby’s nails and make yourself aware of the signs of infection. If you are concerned the nail or skin has become infected, contact your doctor for advice. 

Over time your baby’s finger will heal and their nail will begin to grow back. Next time you clip your baby’s fingernails, make sure you are careful and don’t cut them too short.

Baby’s nails don’t need to be trimmed right down, you just need to remove the sharp edges and trim them enough that your baby won’t be able to scratch themselves (or anyone else!).

Baby nails grow very fast so it shouldn’t take more than a week or two before you will need to be trimming that once damaged nail again. 

How Can I Tell If My Baby’s Cut is Infected?

Your main concern when it comes to cuts is infection. Even the tiniest cut on your baby’s finger can become infected. It is essential you clean your baby’s cut as soon as possible and keep it clean throughout the healing process. 

To help you determine whether the cut on your baby’s finger is infected, here are some common signs of infection to look out for: 

  • The cut is red or inflamed
  • Red streaks begin to form around the wound
  • Your baby is running a fever
  • The wound has a discharge

All of the above are signs that an infection is setting in and you will need to take your baby to see the doctor. Your little one may need to have a tetanus shot if they are not up to date with their vaccinations or their doctor may prescribe medication to clear up the infection. 

An infected cut will be painful so if you notice your baby is more irritable or upset more than usual, it may be due to the cut on their finger. Most infections aren’t serious when treated quickly, if you are concerned about your baby it is always best to get professional advice from a pediatrician. 

FAQs

How long does it take for a baby’s finger to heal?

Most minor cuts heal within 2-4 weeks. During the healing process, you should be aware of the signs that the wound may be infected or not healing as it should.

How long does it take for a baby’s finger to stop bleeding?

Most cuts will stop bleeding after around 5 to 10 minutes of applying direct pressure to the wound. If after this time it is still not stopping it may be time for a trip to the ER.

Can you put Vaseline on a baby cut?

Yes you certainly can a Vaseline-type product will help to keep the wound moist and moisture has been shown to help speed up the healing process.

The Final Thought 

Baby nails grow quickly and it is important parents regularly trim their little ones’ nails to prevent them from scratching and hurting themselves. However, sometimes accidents will happen and you might cut your baby’s finger with nail clippers.

In this article, we have highlighted what you need to do if you cut your baby’s finger while clipping their nails.

In most circumstances, all you will need to do is clean the wound and monitor the cut for infection. If the cut is very deep, doesn’t stop bleeding after 10 minutes, or is showing signs of infection, you will need to take your baby to see the doctor. 

Hi, I'm Emma and I'm a mother to 5 beautiful children aged from 1 to 21 years old- life is hectic! I have learned so much along the way, not only from my own children but also through my professional life. In my positions as a Childminder and Teaching Assistant, I have studied Child Development and The Early Years Developing Practice. I wish to share all of this knowledge and help you with your own parenting journey!