Cut Baby’s Finger While Cutting Nails – What Do I Do?!

With washed and sterilized hands, clean your baby’s finger with soap and water before applying firm pressure to the bleeding surface with a sterile cloth and wait for the bleeding to stop before applying a bandage. If the bleeding doesn’t stop or there is a sign of infection later, necessary precautions must be applied.

Babies’ little fingers and toes require only the bare minimum regular treatment which is, trimming with appropriate tools, but accidents do happen even when you are extra vigilant.

Nonetheless, there are many tips and tricks to apply when it comes to cutting your baby’s nails and some safety precautions you can take to eliminate cuts and cries, and what to do in the eventuality that it does happen.

Steps, tips, and tricks to properly cut your baby’s nails

Mom is cutting her newborn baby's nails using a baby nail scissor.

The best way and appropriate tools to use to cut your baby’s nails is with a personal hygiene tool kit made for babies and not with your teeth to avoid spreading gets and causing jagged edges. 

Because babies’ nails grow very fast, you may need to trim them multiple times in a row to avoid the razor-sharp scratches on you or their still-developing skin. To properly care for your baby’s nails, you should:

  • Find a good position and angle to properly reach the baby’s fingernails without straining.
  • Hold the baby’s hand and the fingers in particular in one hand as you work on them.
  • Use the designated baby tool kits which have appropriate safety tools.
  • Cut the baby’s nails straight across and slightly round at the top.
  • Use an emery board, which might take time but it is the safest method.
  • Don’t use a metal file. It might be too rough for your baby’s delicate skin.
  • Use baby nail clippers because they have round edges to prevent accidents.
  • The baby’s fingernails should be cut straight across and slightly round to prevent rough jagged edges.
  • The toenails should be clipped straight across.
  • Clip the nails while your baby is sleeping.

What to do if you accidentally cut a baby’s finger while cutting nails

Mom has her newborn baby on her lap and is carefully cutting the newborn's toenails.

Despite mommy’s best intentions to trim the baby’s nails carefully, all the while applying all the above tips and tricks to prevent her from scratching or cutting herself and scratching you too, you may have cut the skin on those little fingers that are fast-moving targets that don’t mix with sharp objects like nail clippers.

The second you realize that you may have trimmed more fingers than fingernails while trimming, follow these first aid steps to make that little munchkin feel better immediately.

  • Wash and disinfect your hands. Always use clean hands before administering fast aid to prevent contaminating the affected surface and spreading the germs.
  • Clean the baby’s finger and whole hand with soap and clean water. The nail clippers may harbor lots of germs and bacteria.
  • Apply firm yet gentle pressure on the cut with a clean cloth to stop the bleeding.
  • Once the bleeding has subsided, which shouldn’t take more than a few minutes for a minor cut, you can bandage it up if necessary.
  • If the cut is minor and the bleeding has recessed, don’t use a band-aid on your baby’s finger as she may put her finger in her mouth and swallow the band-aid.
  • If the bleeding is not stopping yet, try holding the baby’s finger above their head for several minutes while maintaining a firm and gentle pressure while doing so. 
  • If the bleeding doesn’t stop within 10 minutes, then a trip to the clinic may be necessary.

Should you worry about tetanus in case of a cut?

Yes. The CDC states that it is pretty easy for children to contract tetanus even from a seemingly harmless accident like getting a cut from a nail clipper during clipping. The average time from exposure to infection is anywhere from 3 to 21 days but averages about 10 days. 

The best way to prevent tetanus infection is to stick to the recommended vaccine schedule, which includes a DTaP for children, but the signs and symptoms of tetanus can include;

  • Lockjaw or jaw cramping
  • Involuntary muscle tightening or muscle spasms
  • Painful muscles or stiffness
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Fever and sweating
  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Seizures

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What happens if you cut the baby’s nail too short?

The hyponychium, which is located under the distal end of your nail bed near your fingertip, is the reason for the pain when the nails are cut a little too short.

It serves as a barrier to prevent debris and germs from making their way under the nails and also contains white blood cells to help fight infections.

Cutting the nails too short exposes this barrier making your fingertips painful, sensitive, and irritated due to the nerve endings being exposed to pressure and the sensations it’s normally protected from by the actual fingernail.

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

If the bleeding is not controlled within 20 minutes, the best thing to do is to make an emergency trip to the doctor for a proper assessment of the injury. Otherwise, just keep your baby’s finger clean until the nail grows back and the redness is gone.

If the area begins to look inflamed, red and is causing the baby excessive pain, then have it checked immediately.

Takeaway

Baby’s nail cutting is not rocket science, but it is one of those things that cause parents a lot of anxiety as they work towards keeping their baby’s nails healthy, short and hygienic. 

The use of proper tools and techniques and following laid down first aid steps if something does go wrong are the best ways of keeping that little person’s hands healthy.

Remember, when this happens, you’ll probably feel worse than the baby but as long as you clean and care for the cut properly, the baby will just be fine and is another reason to always have a well-stocked first-aid tool kit handy.

Hello, I am Emelda from Nairobi, Kenya. They simply call me mama Lilly. A fun of long road trips and a very good cook, along with my mommy duties to a super active girl. She inspires and challenges me in equal measure, and that is how I get to share with you our journey of triumph as we grow and tag you along.

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