Clipped Baby Finger When Cutting Nails : A Parent’s Guide to the Dreaded Baby Nail Injury




Clipped Baby Finger When Cutting Nails A Parent's Guide to the Dreaded Baby Nail Injury

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I will NEVER forget the mom guilt I felt the day that I accidentally cut my firstborn’s fingertip when cutting his nails. He was around 10 months old at the time and up until then, I’d never had any issues with baby nail clippers or baby nail scissors. That day changed everything and even though I went on to have three more kids, nail cutting day was never the same.

So, I wish I had known then what I know now. Instead of panicking, I should have simply cleaned both of our hands, applied pressure to the wound, and then wrapped it in a sterile cloth.

Fortunately, I’ve learned a lot since those early days and I’m here to share what to do if you ever make the same oopsie that I did. And seriously…don’t feel guilty, every parent will have this issue when clipping nails at least once. You’re not alone!

Key Takeaways

  • What to do if you cut baby nails too short

  • What to do if you cut your baby’s finger by accident

  • Concerns around tetanus and nail clippers

  • How long the bleeding should take to stop and when to see a doctor

Help! I Cut My Baby’s Finger – What Should I Do?

Help! I Cut My Baby’s Finger – What Should I Do?

We’ve all been there. You’re not the first parent to cut their baby’s finger and you certainly won’t be the last. Of course, amidst the panic, you’re going to need to perform some basic treatment using a first aid kit but it’s nothing to worry about.

Before you do anything else, make sure to wash your hands so there’s no risk of bacteria or infection getting into the cut. Next, use some warm water and soap to clean your baby’s hands; you’d be surprised just how many nasty germs are on those nail clippers!

When everything is clean, take a clean cloth or gauze and use this to apply pressure to the wound. You’ll need to apply gentle pressure but make sure it’s firm and consistent as this will help to stop bleeding. Fortunately, for a small injury like this, the bleeding should take no longer than a few minutes to stop.

Once the bleeding stops, you can now wrap the finger in a sterile bandage, if needed. Do note that using a band aid on a baby’s finger isn’t the best approach as there is a risk of them putting it into their mouth and they may accidentally swallow it.

What Happens If The Cut Won’t Stop Bleeding?

You may have been able to distract your baby from thier initial tears and upset with a toy, TV show, or sweet treat. But in some situations, the bleeding may continue longer than expected.

At times like this, I guarantee that you’ll be more worried than your baby so the most important thing is to stay calm.

If the cut is still bleeding after a few minutes despite you applying firm pressure, try raising baby’s hand above their head. Continue to apply firm pressure as you do this but if the bleeding still hasn’t subsided after ten minutes then you should call your doctor.

Do I Need To Seek Medical Attention For My Baby?

Do I Need To Seek Medical Attention For My Baby?

If you have accidentally cut baby’s delicate skin when trimming their nails, the chances are that you won’t need to see a doctor. This is a minor injury that can typically be treated at home.

However, sometimes wounds don’t heal as we would like and can become infected or inflammed. In this case, you would need to have your little one seen by a pediatrician who may prescribe antibiotics to stop any infection.

If you notice any of the following signs, it’s time to call the doc!

  • A deeper cut that doesn’t stop bleeding

  • Red streaks around the site of the injury

  • Redness or swelling

  • Your baby develops a fever

  • Your baby has not yet had a tetanus shot

  • There is discharge coming from the wound

What If You Cut Baby Nails Too Short?

Sometimes, it’s possible to cut your baby’s nails too short and this can often be just as sore as if you had cut the tip of their finger.

We don’t usually associate our nails with pain but it’s what’s underneath them that causes that nasty sting when they’re cut too short.

There’s a layer called the hyponychium which is directly under the nail bed and acts as a barrier. It stops germs, infections, and other nasties from getting under the nail and causing problems. However, since this layer is also packed with nerve endings, exposing it due to very short nails can cause discomfort.

There’s not a lot you can do once the nails have been cut too short other than to keep the area clean. It shouldn’t take long for any redness to subside and for your baby’s nail to grow back. However, if it appears that your baby is in a lot of pain, a visit to the doctor might be a good idea.

Can You Get Tetanus Infection From Nail Clippers?

Tetanus Infection

Tetanus bacteria is found everywhere and when you have an open wound, even something as small as a cut from the clippers, there is a chance of that bacteria getting into the wound. Fortunately, the risk of tetanus is low, espeically if you are vaccinated. In the USA each year, there are only around 30-40 reported cases of the infection.

However, if your baby has not had a tetanus shot then you should consider getting them one. After receiving a cut from the nail clippers, it’s important to watch out for some common tetanus symptoms and if you notice any, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Note that tetanus symptoms likely won’t come on immediately. It usually takes around ten days for signs to start showing although it could be as early as three days after infection or as long as three weeks. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Muscle spasms or tightening of the muscles

  • Lockjaw (jaw cramping)

  • Seizures

  • Headaches

  • Difficulty swallowing

  • Painful muscles

  • Stiff muscles

  • Raised heart rate

  • Blood pressure changes

How Best To Cut Baby Nails

How Best To Cut Baby Nails

There is always going to be a risk involved when cutting nails, espeically with young children as they’re not known for their ability to stay still. But if you try to take the best approach then you can reduce the risk but please keep in mind that accidents happen and it’s nothing to feel bad about. Here’s are top tips on cutting baby nails.

  1. Never used your mouth to bite baby’s fingernails as this can spread germs.

  2. Choose tools like a soft emery board, blunt nosed scissors, and nail clippers specially designed for babies.

  3. Make sure you’re in a comfortable position with good access to your baby’s hand. If you can, cut the nails when baby is sleeping as she’ll be much more still than when she’s awake.

  4. Use one hand to hold them still while the other one does the clipping.

  5. Try to cut straight across the top of the nail but round the edges so they aren’t sharp.


If you’ve ever faced the agonizing pain of having cut your precious baby’s skin while cutting their nails then you’ll know how guilty you feel. But despite the fact you feel awful, you need to administer some first aid and keep and eye out for signs of infection.

Try not to feel too bad as you’re not the only parent to have found themselves in this situation. Just clean the wound and apply gentle pressure until the bleeding stops then wrap the injury and monitor how it heals.

Most of the time, your baby will be fine and there won’t be any complications. However, if you do notice any signs such as involuntary muscle tightness or spasm, fever, stiffness, trouble swallowing, or inflammation then seek medical attention.

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