Taking care of baby toenails

For a new mum, taking care of baby toenails is one of the many skills that just have to be mastered.

Taking care of the feet and toenails from this early age, and doing it the right way, will put your baby on the right track towards healthy feet and healthy toenails for the course of their lives.

A babys toenails at birth are very thin and delicate and care must be taken to allow them to grow freely yet avoiding possible problems like an ingrowing toenail.

The toenail should be left long enough to only just cover the end of the toe.

I have been asked about painting baby toenails.

My personal view is they should not be covered in laquer at all, the laquer would have to be removed too this will bring more harmful chemicals into contact with the baby toenails.

I would advise against painting baby nails.

Cutting baby toenails

A babys toenails need to be cut or clipped only when they are long enough to do so, and never cut them too short.

The three golden rules in cutting baby toenails are;

  • Always, always, always cut the toenail straight across.
  • This trains the nail to grow straight and discourages the growth of a baby ingrown toenail.

  • Never cut the toenails too short
  • The right length of a toenail is to just, and only just, be the same length of the toe.

  • Use baby toenail clippers when cutting.
  • Clipers help restrict you from cutting the nail too short, they are not as dangerous as scissors if they slip and they tend to cut straight across.

Any sharp edges on the nail must be smoothed over so that they can not 'click' on material and cause the nail to tear.

This can be done with a very fine nail file, only file just enough to remove the rough edge of the nail.

Some moms like to trim the baby toenails whilst the baby is asleep, this is a good idea as when the child is at rest it makes it so much easier.

However, try to do it during a daytime nap so there is plenty light to see what you are doing.

I found one set of baby toenail clippers with an attached magnifying glass. A great idea so long as there is plent of light to see clearly.

Sometimes the toenail may look like it is ingrowing but with a baby it is usually a false impression, never be tempted to cut the toenail down the side.

Check the cuticle at the base of the toenail, this is the area where the nail gets its oxygen.

If it is covered then gently with your own thumb nail, push the skin back so as to uncover the lanula.

Please read our pages on Cuticle care and Childrens toenails

Caring for the feet

An easy way to take care of your babys feet is during the daily bath time.

After the bath pat the feet dry with a soft towel and gently dry under and between the toes.

If the skin feels a little dry then use a good baby cream to moisturise the skin a little, similarly, if the skin feels a little too moist or has a tendency to sweat then use a good baby talcum powder.

This is a good time for a gentle baby foot massage, it is really good for circulation and is calming for the baby too.

Use your thumbs and move them in circles on the sole of the foot with just enough pressure to cause a massage and not too light as to be irritating or tickling.

Usually, when performing any massage, it should be done towards the heart.

Baby socks and shoes

Covering a babys foot, even with socks, or one piece suits with feet in, should be done loosely.

Avoid having anything tight or close fitting around a babys feet. Unrestricted growth is what is needed so if it is socks, slippers or one piece suits then give the feet plenty of room inside of them.

Later, when shoes can be worn, leave a good space in length and width inside the shoe for the toes.

It all leads to good foot health and toenail care. Essential in the early years.

The best material you can have to cover baby feet is natural materials or natural fibres.

Soft cotton or wool for socks and soft leather for shoes.

The shoes should support the heel and have some form of instep support and be flexible to bend with the motion of the foot.

You can find more information in our page on

Childrens feet

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