Small Talk #5: Newborn Nails & Umbilical Cord

Care of Newborn nails & Umbilical cord

Hi there all you new moms and about to be moms!

I don’t know if any of you are also squeamish when it comes to anything to do with finger nails? I was and I found the task of cutting my children’s nails extremely stressful, especially when they were so tiny! I wish I had known then what I have since found out about nails and umbilical cords!  I wanted to spare you the misery and stress I went through by writing this blog which is #5 in my Small Talk series. The tips here will soon have you an expert in caring for your newborn’s nails and umbilical cord without  tearing your hair out or bursting into tears because you have accidently snipped a little finger!

Newborn nail care

newborn nail care

How the heck do you cut a newborn’s nails? The nails grow so quickly and my little one kept on getting scratch marks on his face! And as I said above, I happen to be very squeamish when it comes to anything to do with finger nails or toe nails for that matter.

To pick up a pair of scissors, even the ones made specially for baby nails – you know those with the blunted tips? – this took all my courage – and eventually this task was delegated to my husband who had a very steady hand!

Since the skin of those tiny fingers is usually attached to the back of the nail, cutting can result in nipping that poor little mite’s fingertip too…eina!!  Although the bleeding is not too serious and a little pressure usually stops it, it is upsetting as a parent to know you have caused this! There is such a simple solution to this and it is:

File them, don’t cut them!!

file baby finger and toenails, dont cut them

A simple solution is to NOT cut your newborn’s nails! Nobody ever told me that the safest, and least traumatic, way to keep a newborn’s nails short is to just FILE them and not cut them at all! If only I had known that, it would have saved many tears! When you notice that your newborn’s nails (fingers or toes) are getting a bit long, just file them gently using an emery board. Once your baby reaches the ripe old age of 18 months or so, you can start cutting their nails while they are asleep, (my husband was always roped in for this task because I just can’t bear the thought of possibly hurting a little baby when I cut those nails).

Umbilical cord care

caring for your newborn's umbilical cord

Another little thing that you may feel squeamish about is your baby’s umbilical stump which is left once the cord has been cut.  What is the best way to take care of your newborn’s umbilical cord stump until it falls off, usually within the first 7 days. Nowadays most hospitals  believe that “less is best” when it comes to taking care of your newborn’s umbilical stump. In other words, just leave it to heal on its own. The most recommended method is that you must just keep it dry. A few years ago, parents were advised to swab the stump with surgical alcohol as this was thought to help dry the area out faster than just leaving it. But now, according to the Mayo Clinic in the USA,  the stump will heal faster if you just leave it alone and don’t even swab the area with surgical spirits

Here are 4 basic tips to caring for your newborn’s umbilical cord stump:

1: Keep it dry – the best way to do this is to expose the stump to air as much as possible. This means you should fold the front of your baby’s nappy down to avoid covering the umbilical stump.

2: Keep it clean – If the area gets sticky or dirty, clean it with water and then dab it dry with a clean cloth or just fan air over it.

3: Sponge bath only – since the idea is to keep the umbilical area as dry as possible, give your newborn sponge baths until the stump has healed. Once the stump as fallen off (normally after 7-10 days) you can bathe baby in the tub.

4: Let the stump fall off on its own. It’s hard, but do resist the urge to pick at or pull off the scab. This will happen naturally – usually about 3 weeks after your little one was born.

I do hope this has given you the confidence to deal with your newborn’s nails and umbilical cord stump and wish you every joy in your journey of motherhood! If you have any other niggly little matters let me know and I will try to get to the truth of the matter for you!

Have a happy weekend, wherever you are!

Yours in newborn photography








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