How to Take Care of Newborn Hands, Fingers, Toes, and Feet

Caring for Your Baby

Newborn fingers toes are tiny, but despite their small size, you will need to give them lots of attention as your baby grows. Here's what you need to know when caring for your baby's hands and feet.

Keep Nails Trimmed

Mother holding baby girl's (6-9 months) legs, smiling
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You will need to you keep your baby's nails well-trimmed—not only for your baby's sake but for your own as well. Despite how paper-thin baby fingernails can be, they can at times seem like little claws. Since your newborn will not have adequate motor control, he will often bat his arms about, scratching himself in the process.

Baby fingernails grow fast and you'll need to trim them twice a week. Luckily, the toenails are not as sharp and grow slower, so you'll only need to trim them once or twice a month.

Always use clean nail clippers, a soft emery board, or a blunt-nosed toenail scissors to keep your baby's nails at a safe length. One habit you should not fall into is biting your child's nails to trim them. That carries with it the risk of transmitting infection.

Check Fingers and Toes Frequently

Even on a newborn, you might be surprised how much lint, hair, and fuzz balls can become collected in his tight grasp, a common 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. After a good investigation, use a baby wipe to clean hands and feet after changes.

If you notice any injuries to the fingertips, mild swelling should heal on its own. But stay aware of signs of infection.

Protect Hands With Baby Mittens

Baby mittens (not the kind you wear in the winter) are an excellent item to protect your baby's hands, keeping her from scratching herself. When packing for the hospital, stow a pair of baby mittens to be used after delivery. Consider sliding a pair on just before your baby has any procedures done that might be painful.

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, it 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 it likely doesn't bother your baby, you may want to use a baby lotion.

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, a little will go a long way.

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. Clip them straight across with nail clippers and do not round the edges down.

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.


Nail Care: Fingers and Toes. American Academy of Pediatrics.