How To Clean Under Baby Toenails

Date Published: June 18, 2021
Author: Kylee Smith

You might not be dealing with the terrible twos just yet, but newborns and infants still know how to get dirty very quickly. Newborn nails grow 0.1 mm a day, which is why you should clean under your baby's toenails frequently. The following step-by-step guide will show you how to clip and clean under your baby’s toenails.

Newborn Nail Clipping Supplies

Clipping your baby's nails and cleaning under them only requires a few supplies. Gather the following supplies and get ready to have your baby's toes looking amazing in just a few simple steps.

Baby Manicure Set

You need a baby manicure set to safely clip your child's nails and clean under them. Do not use an adult manicure set as the tools will be too large. Instead, opt for a baby manicure set that has all the right-size tools for the job.

YIVEKO Baby Nail Kit, 4-in-1 Baby Nail Care Set with Cute Case, Baby Nail Clippers, Scissors, Nail File & Tweezers, Baby Manicure Kit and Pedicure kit for Newborn, Infant, Toddler, Kids-Owl Green
  • 4 IN 1 CONVERTIBLE: This isn’t just a nail clipper but an entire grooming kit containing a baby nail clipper, a non-slip handled baby scissors, soft-tipped tweezers, and a glass nail file that won’t shred nails or hurt the skin around the nails. Equips with protection and cute case. This has to be one of the safest, easiest to use baby manicure sets on the market right now.
  • SAFE FOR ALL AGES: Baby manicure pedicure set is produced under the highest hygienic standards. The blades are made from precision stainless steel, non-blunt and rust-free, quite safe to be used as a trimmer to the delicate nails of your tiny tot. The handles are crafted from ABS, non-toxic, anti-slip, durable, free from harsh chemicals.
  • SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED FOR KIDS: Baby Nail Clippers: Ergonomic handle, curved, overlapping blades, non-slip handle. Baby Nail Scissors: Large hole handle, non-slip grip, circular head design. Baby Nail File: Delicate, smooth, rounded, perfect size for the small fingers and toes of babies toddlers. Infant Tweezers: Anti-slip handle with bumps, easy to grip, rounded tip design, useful for cleaning like picking the nail scraps, clean infant’s ear or bellybutton.
  • PERFECT BABY GIFT & CONVENIENT CARRYING: Comes with 4 tiny tools precisely made for tiny fingernails in cute and durable case, which can keep them hygienic and healthy. Two colors, unisex, cute, bright color, our premium infant nail set is a perfect gift for baby shower, birthday or for new mothers who are going to have a baby, also perfect for moms on the go during travels.
  • LIFETIME MONEY BACK GUARANTEE: We absolutely guarantee if you’re less than 100% satisfied, please get in touch with us for a replacement or full refund at any time for any reason. We won't just say try our products but we're truly dedicated to your satisfaction.

Emery Board

A separate emery board is needed if you do not purchase a baby manicure set. An emery board can be used to trim or file down newborn nails without using clippers.

Baby Nail File by baby blue giraffe The Original Glass Nail File- 100% Made in Europe (Blue)
  • Makes Trimming Nails Safe and Easy - Our nail file is the ideal tool for keeping your baby's little toenails and fingernails properly trimmed. It’s made from genuine Czech glass, which makes it more effective than the usual nail files.
  • Designed for Your Little Ones - No more nail clippers, nail scissors, and rough sandpaper emery boards! Designed for a newborn’s delicate nails, our nail file helps you groom your baby’s nails without the risk of hurting him or her.
  • Gentle on Skin - Nail files are normally made of sandpaper, which may be too rough for your baby’s delicate skin. Good thing, our nail file is made of glass. Because it’s absolutely safe, it’s an indispensable tool for your little ones’ nail care.
  • Easy to Clean - No need to buy new nail files every time. You only have to rinse our glass nail file to clean it. So, you don’t have to replace it after use, which helps reduce waste and allows you to make the most out of your purchase.
  • Made to Last - One of our premium baby products, this baby nail file is crafted in Europe for superior quality and materials you can trust. We provide you with nothing short of high-quality and durable nail care products for your little one.


Nail Brush

Baby manicure sets may not come with a nail brush. A nail brush helps remove excess dirt under your baby’s toenails.

Handle Grip Nail Brush, 4 Pieces Hand Fingernail Scrub Cleaning Brushes Kit with 1 Piece Pedicure Brush for Toes and Nails Cleaner Men Women
  • 【High Quality】- The handle of the nail brush is made of high-quality plastic material, which is sturdy and not easy to bend. The bristles are made of flexible plastic, soft and hard moderate, will not scratch your skin. Durable material can use time and time again
  • 【Practical Handle Design】- Handle fingernail brush size is 3.22" x 1.06" x 1.57"; long handle brush size is 5.7" x 0.98" x 0.79". Practical handle designed help you grip the brush easily and comfortably. You can easily hang them on your bathroom hooks with the handle
  • 【Lightweight & Easy to Carry】- The nail scrub brushes are small and lightweight, will not take up much space, easy to take and store, you also can put it in your travel bag or handbag when you travel or on a business trip if you need
  • 【Easy to Use】-The nail cleaning brush set has five different colors which are red, blue, green, purple and pink, which can bring a good mood and help you find out quickly
  • 【Wide Application】- The finger nails cleaner brush is suitable for the kitchen, bathroom, garden shed sinks, which is perfect to remove dirt from hand, fingertip and foot. Nice pedicure manicured brushes can be used for men, women, toddler and kids

Old Toothbrush

An old toothbrush can be used in place of a nail brush. You must be gentle with a baby’s nails, so use an old baby’s toothbrush with soft bristles – not an adult toothbrush.

Jordan Step 1 Baby Toothbrush, 0-2 Years, Soft Bristles, BPA Free 4 Pack
  • ⭐ Jordan* is the original brand of this baby toothbrush designed with extra soft bristles, a soft biting ring for babies gums, and a handle that suits adults and babies hands. Not made in China.
  • ⭐ Jordan toddler toothbrush step 1 toothbrush is tailor-made to make the first brushing experience a good one. The short neck and it`s unique teeth ring prevent to swallow or prick when brushing.
  • ⭐ Make this the first step in establishing healthy and happy dental care routines for your baby. Baby toothbrush 12 months and up with chewing grip to stimulate baby’s gum (BPA and Phtalates Free).
  • ⭐ Dentists recommend that you start using first toothbrush baby when the very first tooth appears. The ergonomic shaped handle good grip makes it comfortable for both baby and parents. Colored bristles indicate amount of fluoride toothpaste to be used.
  • ⭐ Pack of kids toothbrush with 4 units, each one with different and funny colors. Red Dot Design Award" winning toothbrush.

Utility Bowl

A utility bowl filled with water allows you to rinse your baby’s feet after clipping or trimming his/her nails. Rinsing your baby's feet helps to loosen the dirt under your baby's nails and prepares his/her feet for the next step – using the nail brush.

Soaking your baby's feet helps to loosen the dirt and prevents pushing the dirt deeper under the nail bed. You can also use the bowl of water to rinse the nail brush.

Little Giant Plastic Utility Pan (Green) Durable & Versatile Short Livestock Feeding Bucket (3 Gallon) (Item No. P3GREEN)
  • ULTRA DURABLE - The plastic bucket is made of tough DuraFlex plastic that is impact resistant, protects against warpage, and helps prevent stress cracks.
  • VERSATILE USE - This premium utility pan works great for pet and livestock feeding, but it can also function as an automotive oil pan or many other uses.
  • HIGHLY FUNCTIONAL - Perfect for a large variety of use cases such as holding water or food, This bucket works great for any farm, work shop, or home.
  • SHALLOW DESIGN - This durable feeding bucket has the dimensions of a 17.25 inch diameter by a 4.5 inch height. The feeding pan has an internal volume of 3 gallons.
  • MANY OPTIONS AVAILABLE - These premium feeding buckets are available in 8 other colors and sizes, including 5 quart and 3 gallon.


A towel will be used to dry your baby’s feet when you are done clipping and cleaning his or her nails.

Amazon Basics Fade-Resistant Cotton Hand Towel - 6-Pack, Crimson
  • Includes 6 - 26 x 16-inch hand towels
  • Made of 100% cotton for softness and tear-resistant strength
  • Lightweight hand towels quickly absorb moisture
  • Designed with a classic and simple pique border
  • Fade-resistant color


How to Clip and Clean Your Baby’s Toenails

Parents are often nervous about clipping a baby’s nails. Newborn toenails are soft, which means you must be careful and avoid accidentally cutting the delicate skin on the baby's feet.

Step 1: Clip Your Baby’s Toenails

A baby’s toenails are small and soft, so it is unnecessary to soak them before clipping. You can use the clippers, emery board, scissors, or a combination of all three instruments to cut your baby's toenails.

There are several approaches you can take to make clipping your baby's toenails easy.

  • You can cut your baby's toenails while he/she is asleep.
  • You can have someone hold your baby while you clip your baby's toenails.
  • You can bathe your baby before clipping his/her nails, which will calm your baby down before you perform this grooming responsibility.

Pro Tip: A baby’s toenails can sometimes appear to be ingrown because they are small and still in development. If you do see any signs of irritation, inflammation, or redness after your cut your baby's toenails,  contact your pediatrician.

Step 2: Rinse Your Baby’s Feet

Once you have clipped your baby's toenails, it is time to clean under your baby's nails. Rinse your baby's feet thoroughly to help loosen the dirt under his/her toenails.

Pro Tip: Using a big bowl allows you to completely submerge your baby’s feet. Soak each foot for a few minutes to help loosen the dirt under your baby's toenails. 

Step 3: Remove Dirt Under the Nails with a Nail Brush

You can remove dirt under your baby's toenails with a nail brush or old toothbrush. Dip the nail brush into the bowl of water, and gently brush your baby’s toenails.

Remember, you want to remove the dirt, not push it down. Finally, brushing too hard could hurt your bays so use a gentle touch.

Pro Tip: While being gentle is key, repetition can also produce good results. After gently scrubbing with the nail brush, dip it back in the water and scrub gently once again.

Step 4: Dry Baby’s Feet Using Towel

Use a soft towel to dry your baby’s feet. Pat your baby's feet rather than rubbing the towel across his/her feet to dry.

Pro Tip: If there is any dirt under your baby's toenails, do not try to dig it out using your fingernails. Instead, soak your baby's feet again and use a nail brush to remove the dirt.

Final Thoughts

Many parents are afraid to cut and clean under their baby's toenails. However, this task must be done. Your infant's nails grow extremely fast; therefore, you may need to cut and clean your baby's toenails each week. Use our step-by-step guide to trimming your baby’s toenails while he or she sleeps.

See also our article on cleaning nail polish from your fingernails.

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