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Category: Character
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Teach Your Child Proper Nail and Toenail Care

Teaching your child proper nail and toenail care can be taught gradually over the course of their childhood. Knowing how to care for nails is an important part of your child’s self-care routine.

The progression from Mom and Dad performing this care to independence depends in large part on your child’s motor skill development. Some children will be ready before others. Because the tools used for nail and toenail care are sharp, it is best to wait until your child is 9 or10 before allowing them to independently perform this task.


Babies and preschoolers will need their fingernails cut every week. Toenails will need to be trimmed less often, probably every other week. The best time to cut nails is right after their bath when the nails are clean and soft.

Having the proper tools is important. Baby clippers should be curved so as to follow the natural curve of the fingernail. If using nail scissors, make sure the tips are rounded rather than pointed to avoid injury.

If you baby resists or wiggles too much, have someone assist you, or wait for them to be asleep.

Toenails should be carefully cut straight across to avoid ingrown toenails. You may want to use an emery board if the edges fray. If your child develops an ingrown toenail, do not try to cut the nail or remedy the problem yourself. The doctor will know how to care for the ingrown nail and avoid the possibility of infection.

Doing this on a regular basis will keep the nails even. Your child will be less likely to bite the nails and they will be getting a weekly lesson on how to trim them!

Main points to address:

  • The use of proper tools is important for safety sake.
  • Follow the shape of the fingertip when trimming finger nails.
  • When cutting toenails, cut straight across.

Grades K-3rd

You will still need to cut your early school-aged child’s nails until around age 9. Children do not have the small motor skills to safely perform these tasks.

You may want to have them try cutting their nails under your direct supervision and guidance when they seem ready to try. Teaching the basics will involve having them trace the curved path the scissors will take when fingernails are trimmed. Then have them trace the straight line they’ll follow when cutting nails. Be careful they do not cut too deeply.

If they cut their skin (or if you ever do by accident) dab a little antiseptic on the cut and keep watch for infection.

It also merits mentioning that shoes should not fit too tightly or rub against any part of the foot. Shoes that are too short or narrow can cause blisters and nails to become ingrown.

Main points to address:

  • Children don’t have the small motor skills to cut nails until around 9 years.
  • Make sure shoes fit well.

Grades 4-6th

Children aged 9 and up should be able to complete this task by themselves. Buy them their own manicure set with clippers, scissors and emery boards. They will feel very grownup and proud at being able to manage their own self-care.

You may need to remind your child to cut their nails. Setting aside the same day each week or every two weeks and perhaps noting it on a calendar in their room may help.

Care of the nails and toenails includes washing hands and nails regularly. Keep a nail brush handy in the bathroom and show them how to use it. Remind your child to take care with cuticles and the skin around the nails. As they get a little older, you may want to allow them to use a clear nail polish for special occasions.

Main points to address:

  • Children age 9 and above should be able to care for their own nails.
  • Supplying them with their own nail care tools will encourage them to perform this task.
  • Encourage frequent and careful hand washing.

Resources that can help you in your venture include:

Posted in Health.

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