Thursday, July 31, 2008

How to clip a baby's fingernails

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This is where I humiliate myself. As a rule, I do not clip my baby's fingernails. With my first four, I just never did figure out how. Their little fingers were too wiggly and I was terrified that I would cut their tiny fingertips off. They say that you can cut them while they are sleeping, but once I get to that point, I'm not about to wake them up. Fortunately all of my babies have been blessed with thin, frail nails, just like their mother, and eventually they just kind of peel off at the top when they become too long. Then disaster struck...

When my fourth child was a newborn, I left him in the care of a friend at church while I played the organ. Mind you, we were in the same room, albeit a large one, and he was only in her care for less than half an hour as I played the hymns for the congregation, but during this time she apparently decided that he needed to have his nails clipped. As I sat at the organ listening to the talk, a horrible scream emanated from the congregation and my friend ran out of the chapel, clutching my new baby. During an appropriate lull in the meeting, I left the stand where I was sitting and went into the lobby to see what was wrong. Looking at me with the saddest eyes I've ever seen, my friend told me that she had decided to clip his nails and had accidentally clipped his little fingertip off. I'll be honest and admit right now that this was difficult to forgive, but I did forgive within a few minutes and we continued to have a strong friendship. She even kept coming to her piano lessons in my home, in which she would pay me an exorbitant fee for half an hour and we would sit and talk until my next student came.

As you can imagine, I was truly scarred from this event, an event in which my wildest fingernail-cutting nightmare had come to pass! But then something happened. Something wonderful....

I was given two newborns at once! It was then that I was forced to see the merits of cutting fingernails. These babies got scratched much more than any of my others had and then I figured it out. They were scratching each other! I had to put a stop to this, but how?

My first step was to comb through the aisles of Walmart to see what new-fangled baby nail clippers had been invented since the 70's, since that was the last time I had used them. Actually, not even then, because my mother had cut my nails, not I. To my surprise, I did indeed find "safety" nail clippers. I threw them in my cart, confident that I would have the success for which I had always longed.

When I returned home, I nursed the babies to make sure they had the proper amount of endorphins coursing through their blood, then began the attempt. As I fumbled and flustered and tried to make them hold still, something amazing happened. One of them grabbed my finger tight and wouldn't let go. Eureka! This was it! I would clip their nails while their little hand was tightly wrapped around my finger, like so...


This worked like a charm and all twenty little nails were trimmed within five minutes. So, this is my confession: I finally learned with child number nine how to clip a baby's nails. I post this in the hopes that you may learn sooner. Good luck, my friends.

17 comments:

Jed said...

Unfortunately I know from experience that you can 'clip' a babys fingertips off. I admit it. I have a slight OCD problem with fingernails. As my kids get older and learn to walk, they go scooting the other way when they see the nail clippers. More than once( 2 or 3 times, not sure, blocking it out) I have clipped too far, and there is nothing worse than knowing you were the cause of your sweet baby's cries. Since my youngest is now 2 it is now less of a problem. One good thing about it is that my kids learn at a young age how to clip their own nails. If for no reason other than to avoid dad doing it!

P.S. Your twins are awesome.

Derrick and Laurice said...

I have those same nail clippers and have never had an accident with them! I can’t believe your friend cut his fingertip off...that would freak me out!

Tammy said...

I remember cutting my first child's nail for the first time and praying the whole time I would not cut his finger off! I did have a few slight slips of the clipper but I am proud to say he still has all of his fingers!

Now my kids are 9 and 7 and they still hate getting their nails cut!

Amanda B. said...

This is my absolute least favorite chore for the very reasons that you listed. I never thought about doing it that way. I will have to remember that should we have another. My husband has yet to make a nail clipping attempt.

Cambria, Greg, Alan and Molly said...

oh how I hate clipping a new borns nails. I HATE it! I always make my sister do it.she can do it in like .2 seconds. I will try this next time.

RhondaLue said...

Well, I was going to come on here and post a tattle about my husband Jed and what he did to our babies but apparenty he already told on himself!

I remember that first time he clipped my little Rickys nails and they were all scabby when I had to take him to the pediatrician the next day for his check-up. I was so embarrassed! Oh well,they healed and are fine. Except for the fact that they all want to clip their own nails starting at age 2ish. :) Can't blame 'em!

Carla said...

Isnt that too cool? Just let it, and the answer will come! I did mine while they were asleep-IF I remembered.

Jerralea said...

I remember those days. Out of my three, the baby was the worst about getting her nails clipped. She whined for years about it. But I don't believe I ever clipped her fingertip off ...

bunchofbull-ers! said...

Im a nail cutting freak! Just ask my Muffins. Wait. Don't do that. They will all shreak....NOT SO SHORT THIS TIME!! Hey, If I'm going to do it I might as well do it good, heh?! But I do have to say that I have never clipped a finger off!

We are THAT Family said...

That picture made me laugh! Because that's how we 'cut' baby's nails too. Especially since I made my newborn BLEED cutting them too close. yeah. I still haven't quite gotten over that.

Barbiemat said...

You are so funny. I did the same thing to Tori. My poor first child. I am surprised she is still kicking. Yes, I am home (AZ)until Monday.

MERRIANNE said...

OH MY GOODNESS!! i would have Freaked out hearing some crying & someone running out holding my little bity baby!!!

and what was she thinking cutting your baby's nails??? anyway....

Glad you found a solution :) and your friendship survived!! :)

Jan Turley said...

I'm guilty of the fingertip clip too! I remember it like yesterday! Waiting in Deming, NM (in the car) for Marshall & Ellen to meet me! I decide to clip Kenna's fingernails to pass the time. Big mistake! It's one of the worst feelings a mom can have....inflicting pain on her own child! I hope your post saves many little fingertips all over the world from being clipped!:)

Elena said...

I don't have any babies but I really hope that never happens to me. I have a really bad habbit of cutting my own so short they bleed, I really don't like my fingernails long at all. Cody has been kind enough to let me practice on him.

CJ, the Purple Diva said...

I am sure young mothers everywhere are praising your tip! I wish I had known this YEARS ago! I mostly bit my kids off with my teeth! NOT GOOD EITHER! Good thing they LIVED through all of that!

C said...

Great post!! You know how I feel about clipping baby fingernails, but reading this post has given me an even better way to do it!!

C

Muthering Heights said...

I've accidentally done that before, although I had lots of practice with clipping guinea pig nails...it actually prepared me for baby nails better than you would think!