How to Trim Your Busy Baby’s Nails

My first two kids were pretty chill as babies and never minded a bit when I’d sit them on my lap, turn on Disney Junior and trim and file all ten fingernails and all ten toenails.

Enter Baby Shepherd.  He doesn’t have time for that ish.  My tried and true distract them with the tv wasn’t working and I had to get crafty.  He’s 11-months-old, doesn’t care about Mickey Mouse Club House and is way too busy to get his nails done.  His agenda is to get down immediately to crawl away from me to throw his toys in the dog’s water, or some other thing I deem dangerous, dirty or otherwise.

So once a week, I trim his nails and I pretty much incorporate any and all of these tips below because one element isn’t enough for my Wiley One.


  1. You’ve gotta have the right tools.  Because Baby Shepherd won’t sit still for long, and pulls his hands out of mine when I go to trim his nails, I have to be accurate.  I use these clippers with a flashlight on the end so that I can be precise.  Three kids and I’ve never had a nail accident using these (knock on wood!)  Buy two.  They’re cheap and you need the second pair because…
  2. It’s all about control with my Baby Number Three (don’t tell him he’s not the boss).  I let Baby Shepherd help me.  After I trim his nails, I let him hold the second pair of clippers (closed of course, so that he’s not in danger or hurting himself) and he will pretend to help or lean over and pretend to do his toenails while I do his fingernails.  But that doesn’t last long and he starts squirming again so…
  3. The Art of Distraction.  Buh bye, Disney Junior.  Welcome Little Baby Bum.  Whip out your iPad and bring up Little Baby Bum on Youtube Kids.  It’s all the best nursery songs with little cartoon animals and I’ve never met a baby who could resist it.  (This works to get you through dining out, as well!  I’m totally that mom and I enjoooooy our dinners out so much).
  4. File.  Baby nails are sharp even after you trim them.  You need an electric nail file to really do the job right AND FAST.  Plus, there’s something about the bzzzz of the nail file that’s both interesting and distracting.  This one does the job fast and is great in a pinch if there’s just one snagged nail or if Wiley Baby isn’t having it.
  5. IF ALL ELSE FAILS.  Bring in the Big Guns.  YO GABBA GABBA.  Why this epic children’s program ever went off the air, I do not understand.  But save it for the super meltdowns, the sharpest of baby nails…[insert Maui from Moana‘s voice here] you’re welcome! 

And remember.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  This is basically my mama mantra.  If you get two nails out of ten, hey, that’s 20 percent!  Go back and try again later, after a nap, and a full belly (your baby, not you.  Well, maybe you, too).

And patience.  Always patience.  It’s pretty funny and I try to find the humor in every situation – that these little people have such opinions on what they want and what they don’t.  Pretty amazing.

Happy Trimming!  

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