How to Take Care of Newborn Fingers and Toes

Newborn fingers and toes are tiny, and they need special attention as your baby grows. Keeping nails trimmed and clean, and keeping the skin soft requires some extra planning and care. 

1

How to Keep Nails Trimmed

Mother holding baby girl's (6-9 months) legs, smiling
Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images

You will need to you keep your baby's nails well-trimmed. Despite how paper-thin baby fingernails can be, they can seem like little claws at times. Since your newborn does not have perfectly developed motor control yet, he will often bat his arms around, scratching himself in the process.

Baby fingernails grow fast, so you will need to trim them twice a week. Toenails are not as sharp and grow slower, so you will only need to trim them once or twice a month.

Always use clean nail clippers, a soft emery board, or blunt-nosed toenail scissors to keep your baby's nails at the right length. Don't cut too close to the skin, but do not panic if you see a drop of blood, because your baby will heal quickly. 

Do not bite your child's nails to trim them because that can give your baby an infection. 

2

Check Fingers and Toes Frequently

You might be surprised by how much lint, hair, and fuzz balls can collect in your baby's fingers and toes. Newborns especially, tend to have a tight grasp, which is a normal aspect of newborn development. You might even find hair wrapped tightly around a finger or toe.

It is a good idea to check your baby's hands and feet at every diaper change and to use a baby wipe to clean her hands and feet.

If you notice any injuries to the fingertips, it should heal on its own. But stay aware of signs of infection, such as redness, puffiness, or warmth.

3

Protect Hands With Baby Mittens

Baby mittens are an excellent way to protect your baby's hands and to keep her from scratching herself.

When packing for the hospital, stow a pair of baby mittens to be used after delivery. Consider sliding on a pair just before your baby has any procedures done that might cause him to move his arms around.

Baby mittens are not the kind of mittens that you wear in the winter, because they just cover the fingers, and they do not keep them warm. Some parents use little socks to protect babies from scratching themselves. Socks, like mittens, work well until the baby ends up losing them, an exceedingly common occurrence. 

4

Use Gentle Baby Lotions

Whether you use baby lotions or not is your choice. If your baby doesn't seem to have any dry patches, lotion may not be necessary. However, many parents moisturize their baby's skin with a gentle lotion. It is not uncommon for your baby's skin to peel in the weeks after birth. Though peeling skin is not dangerous or painful, and it likely doesn't bother your baby, you may use a baby lotion if you want to keep your baby's skin looking smooth and soft.

Apply lotion within a few minutes following a bath to help lock in the moisture. You won't need to use much at any one time, because a little will go a long way.

5

Watch Out for Ingrown Toenails

Every now and then, your baby might develop an ingrown toenail. If you have ever had one, you know how painful they can be. Be sure to trim your baby's toenails regularly, which can help to prevent ingrown toenails. Clip toenails straight across with nail clippers and do not round the edges down.

6

Keeping Feet Covered

Depending on the climate, you may need to keep your baby's feet covered for warmth and protection. However, newborn baby socks are very easy to kick off and they may not be the best choice. It may be easier to use baby coveralls that have the feet built in.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
  • Nail Care: Fingers and Toes. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/bathing-skin-care/Pages/Nail-Care-Fingers-and-Toes.aspx.