Baby grooming obviously doesn’t come with a manual, so we must learn as we go and pick up tricks along the way. Reducing the risk of scratching and infection means we need to trim our baby's nails frequently to keep their hands and nails in tiptop shape. Today, I would like to focus on baby’s hands and nails - not only because they are one of the teeniest, tiniest, delicate and softest part of baby’s body, but mainly because their hands touch just about everything and then go straight into their mouths. If we don’t want them to contract an illnesses or hurt themselves, it is paramount to keep their tiny nails well manicured, short and healthy, but most importantly free of bacteria and germs that can potentially cause issues such as Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD).
Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is commonly contracted by children under the age of five, and can occur when the baby or child absorbs a large number of enteroviruses, often due to crawling on floors and putting their fingers in their mouths. Although it is not considered a serious disease, Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease can still harm your baby while causing persistent fever of 38°C or above in some cases for 72 hours or more. Other symptoms can include excessive irritability, mouth blisters and sores inside the cheeks and gums making it extremely uncomfortable for baby.This illness is most common in the summer and during the autumn period.
To help fellow parents out there reduce the likelihood of their little one contracting this unfortunate illness or doing nail and hand care the hard way, here are a few tips to help!
Before you start any hand or nail grooming regime, make sure baby is comfortable and relaxed. The more relaxed bub is, the less he or she will wriggling - making it easier for the both of you. Bath time is an important component to your child’s day and just like us, baby relies on the simple pleasure of life. If this means allowing your child to have a splash around, have a good play and of course a laugh, by all means allocate that extra time in your grooming routine for this to happen.
Now that baby has had a bath and that both parent and bub are calm, it is time to find a suitable location in the house to settle down one-on-one and trim the nails. Make sure the lighting is set accordingly and not too bright for baby’s sensitive eyes or too dark - or you won’t be able to examine baby’s teeny tiny hands and nails. I like to use the sofa in the lounge room because my children feel cozy and reassured. The area also comprises a lamp with a dimming option where I can adjust the lighting setting according to my needs so it is a win-win situation. Just remember, if you don’t prepare your grooming area, baby will not be too enthusiastic about what is going to happen next.
Be prepared - the result is that baby is not only content from his playtime but will sit more calmly knowing what is next making it a good time to get to work on the nails. And, if done swiftly baby’s nails are trimmed and germ, dirt and bacteria free in no time.
Minimise the risk of injuries to your little one. This can be solved by choosing the appropriate tools. Let’s ensure that they are within hands reach. Either keep the tools in the usual spot whether it is the medicine cabinet or bathroom cupboard. I always keep a trimmer in my nappy bag, you never know when you need it and the bag is always handy too. The last thing you want to do is rummage through the house to find the tiny baby nail tool when baby is all ready to go.
There are so many baby grooming tools out there that may or may not be suitable for your baby’s delicate hands and nails. I can’t stress the importance of choosing the right tool for your baby enough. Don’t buy the one that was on sale or displayed as a promotion at your nearest chemist, but the tool that will help you get the job done safely. My advice is to choose a nail tool that will trim your baby’s nails gently, perhaps shave and file rather than cut and clip. If your baby is not happy and is squirming, or complains that it hurts, the chances are you haven’t found the right tool yet. I suggest you do your research before buying a baby grooming tool that you may eventually regret to have bought. Tools are commonly found at any good chemist or pharmacy, baby store or even online - check reviews from other parents and keep effectiveness, practicality and baby’s safety at the fore.
Parents ensure baby’s safety, health and wellbeing in all other areas of life, but most often forget that setting good grooming habits are also part of healthy baby care regime and teaches them good habits. After all, good grooming habits start young. Sticking to a routine and maintaining regularly grooming schedules will set the tone for your child’s healthy patterns - a routine that they are most likely to follow through as children and young adults.
I like to use a calendar, a good old traditional calendar that you have hanging in your kitchen. It helps me remember the many parenting tasks that I have to perform. Let’s face it, we live hectic lives, if it wasn’t for my calendar on my refrigerator door I would’ve forgotten my children’s nail care routine more than once!
I recommend a trim and good clean once a week. Keep in mind that short nails prevent the germs from getting underneath the nails. I like to keep them short, filed and trimmed at all times and maintain a regular handwashing routine to minimise any bacteria and greatly reduce the chances of contracting Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.
Before baby runs off for another play after trimming their nails or washing their hands, remember to care for baby’s soft and delicate skin on his or her hands. I like to use an organic oil-free moisturiser. Especially, if your baby is still crawling. I would definitely avoid oil-based products as they may have your baby slip or lose grip and fall. Also, I always find oil-based products don’t absorb as fast. Keeping Bub’s hands moisturised is important as with all the touching, crawling and putting them into their mouth they are exposed to different elements, and are often wet - well most of time.
1. Trust in yourself: we’ve all been through it. Focus on specific tasks at a time. Don’t do all the fingers at once or you will want to power through and might miss important steps (like filing or cleaning under the nail) leaving the cut nails with sharp edges or points, which can scratch baby’s skin or face. Go one hand at a time, finger by finger, step by step. That’s what works best for me.
2. Remember babies do feel stress too, be calm and confident and choose appropriate grooming tools best suited for your little ones. I like to use trimmers rather than clippers or scissors. After cutting my first-born once, I never wanted him or me to have to experience this ever again.
3. Make sure you have fun and make it special for baby. It’s all about that joyous moment where baby gets to feel your warmth and snuggle with you and then associates this comfort with nail grooming to make it a nice - not a scary or unliked experience. Although, nail and hand care regimes are important, make sure you enjoy it and make it playful. Song and play are great to keep baby engaged and sitting calmly with you. Perhaps, a song about the little piggies getting a haircut rather than going to market; let your creativity flow...