1 Year Old Will Not Let Me Cut His Nails – Reasons Why It Happens & How To Cut His Nails!

Your toddler could be throwing a big fuss or be a little resistant when cutting their nails. Forcing them into it is never a good option. Make an effort to understand what’s making them react this way. It could be because they don’t understand the importance, nail clippers could mean danger to them, or they could be showing signs of sensory processing disorder. The reason behind their resistance can help you figure out the right way to deal with it. Try making the process of trimming nails a fun activity you can do together. Forming a routine like with every activity can be more logical. Remember cutting nails after bath time is easier. The most important thing is to be patient with your toddler. 

When it comes to cutting your toddler’s nails, a new reign of terror starts that you probably didn’t experience before.

Your baby wouldn’t have known when their nails were being trimmed as an infant. But as a toddler came the understanding of things around them and the fear of nail clippers. 

Some toddlers can easily handle their nails being trimmed, but others would squirm, yell, or even throw a tantrum. Parents can’t understand where this fear stems from and how to calm down their toddler.

But before you try to coax them with a bar of chocolate to get them to let you trim their nails, there’s a need to understand why they’re reacting this way.

There could be several possible reasons, and understanding them will help you take the right approach. 

Reasons your toddler isn’t letting their nails cut

A crying toddler girl is getting her nails cut by mom

1. Nail clipper means danger

As your baby starts growing up and is transitioning into the stage of a toddler, their awareness and curiosity begin to grow.

They become more curious about things around them and want to explore and learn.

In such cases, parents start to give basic knowledge like how fire is dangerous and a big no, or they clap in encouragement when the toddler builds blocks.

Your toddler learns from your reactions about what is right or wrong.

So when it would have come to things like scissors, you would have told them it’s equal to danger or a big no for them. They might be relating this fear of scissors to the nail clippers. 

This might be where their fear of getting their nails cut is coming from, as they don’t recognize the fine distinction or that you won’t hurt them. 

2. Not understanding the importance

Another possible reason your toddler isn’t willing to get their nails cut could be not understanding its reason. 

If you don’t explain the concept behind this activity or help them understand why it’s important, they won’t be so willing to get it done.

A toddler girl is attentively watching as her mom cuts her nails

Parents usually forget their baby is growing, and they consider you as their source of all knowledge for a long time. Just telling them to do certain things without giving them a reason won’t persuade them.

If you let them know how important it is to keep nails clean, and if we don’t, then dirt accumulates, which makes us sick, they will be more willing to cut their nails for fear of getting sick. 

3. Sensory processing disorder

This could signify the initial stage, where another potential explanation could be that your toddler has a sensory processing disorder.

It’s a neurological condition in children that can affect how the brain processes information from the senses.

Children who have it may be extra sensitive to things around them, such as light, sound, touch, taste, and smell.

In such cases, children have an aversion to things that overstimulate their senses, such as touching them, loud environments, or bright lights, as a few examples. 

It’s not an officially recognized disorder, and some doctors even believe it to be another component of other conditions or disorders such as autism spectrum disorder

If they’re showing extreme fear of getting their nails cut as if they’re in great pain, it’s because having a low pain threshold is part of hypersensitivity.

But there should also be other symptoms present in them that confirm this disorder’s possibility. 

Keep a lookout for how they behave around certain things.

If you find their behavior odd and their everyday life is being interrupted, or things are taking a dramatic turn, even affecting their learning, it’s time to see a doctor. 

Different ways to cut your toddler’s nails

Dad is cutting his toddler son's nails

Understanding what’s troubling your toddler and making them react this way can help you find a different or right approach to nail cutting. 

There’re different ways to do so:

  • Nails can be even more challenging to trim when they’re in solid form, but they become soft and easier to cut after a shower. After giving your toddler a bath, the first thing to do is quickly trim their nails while they’re soft, so it’s easier.
  • Make cutting nails a routine activity, so your toddler can get used to it. When you try to do this once in a blue moon, they won’t be willing and might act out. Instead, try doing it every 7 or 10 days at the same time. 
  • Nothing will motivate your toddler more than setting an example yourself. Try making it an activity you can do together as a parent and child. You can try cutting your nails first to show them it’s not dangerous, and they will be more willing. 
  • Sometimes your toddler might be hyper and won’t be willing to sit because of pent-up energy. You can take them to a park or instead play with them for 30 minutes to make them a bit tired, and they will sit down more easily then.
  • Another tip that can work is to hug your toddler from the back while they’re sitting between your legs. It’s a sure way to make them feel safe and loved, and they won’t be so afraid of nail cutting.
  • Distracting your toddler with positive reinforcement like a toy or television and even their favorite person can do the trick. 
  • Don’t cut too close to the nail bed when trimming nails, and leave some space even if it feels like it can be trimmed more. Unknowingly you might be cutting too close, and this bad experience is making your toddler dislike this activity.
  • Turn grooming nails into a full-blown spa activity. Pampering your toddler will make it more fun, like applying a good smelling cream after trimming nails and gently massaging your toddler’s hands, and letting them do the same to you.
  • If your toddler is more sensitive to a nail clipper, you can try using a nail file or nail scissors.


How do I cut my baby’s nails while awake?

You can’t forever cut your child’s nails when they’re sleeping. Doing so while they’re an infant is understandable, but it’s better to explain why trimming nails is crucial as they grow up. 

This will make them want to cut their nails and establish their trust in this activity. You can make this a fun activity that you as a parent and child do together.

Getting them to relax and be happy during the process is necessary to avoid any possible injuries. 

At what age can you cut your baby’s nails?

Nails start growing fairly quickly, along with the hair on your infant’s head. Cutting nails is essential.

Otherwise, your infant might hurt the person near them or even scratch themselves. 

Around a month old is when you will start seeing their nails growing, and as soon as you see it’s long enough is the right time to trim.

You can use a nail clipper or scissors to cut the nails. 

Can you cut your baby’s nails too short?

Cutting nails short is a possibility, so you’ve to be extra careful when trying to trim your baby’s nails.

Cutting it too close to the nail bed can injure the nail, often leading to a throbbing pain for several days.

This could be one of the reasons they don’t like it when you wish to trim their nails. They could start hating the activity altogether. 

How do you get the dirt out of a toddler’s nails?

Maintaining your toddler’s nail hygiene is essential if you don’t want them to become sick.

Nails tend to grow quite fast, and even a bit of long nails can have dirt accumulated under them. 

To prevent that, cutting nails every 7 to 10 days is essential. Plus, it is essential to make your toddler wash their hands after playing and before meals.

Find a soft-bristled nail brush to help get out the dirt if there’s something wedged in. 

Never use anything sharp to clean under their nails, or you could hurt them. 

To summarise

Each toddler needs to be handled in a way that can make them relax when cutting their nails. It’s a sensitive activity and, if cut wrong, can injure your toddler’s nail bed, so you can’t force them into it.

They could be just showing a bit of resistance or throwing a whole fuss when grooming nails.

It’s best to understand what’s making them react this way first before you try various ways to coax them into it.

Understanding the reason behind it can help you figure out a better way to handle the situation. It can be difficult for the parents but being patient with your toddler is the only way to help them!

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As a writer for 1happykiddo, Saumya wants to help new parents and older siblings help raise the newest member added to the family. Her parenting tips come from her experience of being 15 years older than her youngest sibling. When not writing, you can find her reading novels, traveling, and cooking nutritious meals.

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