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Toddler nail cutting

(27 Posts)
peaceloveandbiscuits Thu 23-Feb-17 11:12:42

I'm at a complete loss as to what to do about cutting my toddler's nails, both fingers and toes. He's been absolutely terrified of having them done for around a year now (he's just 2y2m). Before that I would do them when I breastfed him and he'd let me do whatever while he slept.
His toenails are overgrown and I live in fear of him catching one and pulling the whole nail off, or them becoming ingrown. His fingernails are like kitten claws, and since he loves tickling people, I know he's going to hurt someone (probably me) soon. I get comments from my friends about the length of his nails, as though it's a fashion statement or something!
Every few months DH and I have to pin him down together and wildly cut them while he thrashes and screams. This is last resort and I hate doing it. He cries so hysterically that he gets broken blood vessels on his face, it is heartbreaking.
I've tried a gentle approach with sweeties and stickers and distraction, letting him choose the nail we do, letting him "cut" my nails or teddy or baby doll's nails. Nothing works.
He's exactly the same with hair cuts, has to be pinned down while the poor hairdresser does her best.
I just don't know what to do. I worry that every time I pin him down and just go for it, I'm perpetuating the fear he has, because it's a horrible experience for everyone.
People suggest doing it in his sleep, but I just can't risk waking him up, and him being too traumatised to ever sleep again!

NotCitrus Thu 23-Feb-17 11:39:39

Put his favourite TV programme on, sit him on your lap, hold his legs with yours and tuck one of his arms under yours, clip away. For toes, lay him across you, then put one of your legs over his.

If that doesn't work, then just sit astride him and do it as quickly as you can - I've always used toenail clippers for all of them.

I have to admit that animal handling courses I went on were possibly the best training for being a parent!

NotCitrus Thu 23-Feb-17 11:40:33

IMO they get better by age 3 as you can talk to them a bit.

Justmuddlingalong Thu 23-Feb-17 11:42:00

Can you go back to doing it while he sleeps?

tinymeteor Thu 23-Feb-17 11:58:09

This is what iPads were invented for grin

peaceloveandbiscuits Thu 23-Feb-17 12:36:57

Thanks for the suggestions, but I've tried them all.
It's getting me down.

tinymeteor Thu 23-Feb-17 15:11:26

Oh, sympathies, it is really tough.

Maybe an alternative strategy would be to cut them little and often? Literally do one nail a day, somewhere in the bedtime routine? You'll get the full set done over a fortnight, and you don't have to pin him down for ages until he's blue in the face. If it's very frequent and quickly over, he might desensitise to it faster than if it's a gigantic monthly struggle.

Earlybird Thu 23-Feb-17 15:15:24

DD didn't like having her nails cut either. My solution was to file them down instead. It took longer, but wasn't traumatic or a battle.

minipie Thu 23-Feb-17 15:54:31

Might he let you nibble them short? Make a game of it?

Has he seen you cut your nails? Maybe show him you doing yours, then it's his turn? (take it in turns, one of yours one of his, etc)

Does he have an older sibling/cousin - might help if he sees their nails being cut?

peaceloveandbiscuits Thu 23-Feb-17 16:16:17

Bleurgh I can't bite them, have never bitten my own nails.

If I or DH cut our nails, even in the next room, he runs over and cries and begs us to stop.

It's quite ridiculous.

RedLemonade Thu 23-Feb-17 20:38:41

Would he let you file them?

A magic wooden stick that makes your nails strong/magic/whatever-adjective-speaks-to-him when you rub it on them so you don't have to cut them!

You could start with filing your own, painting them etc and letting him watch. He can play with the nail file (wooden obviously) so he knows it's not sharp. Talk it up in a casual manner. Usually for big boys etc etc.

Might be worth a shot and if he allowed it you could do it every few nights to keep them short.

RedLemonade Thu 23-Feb-17 20:39:32

Sorry. I see Earlybird has already suggested filing!

missussmith55 Thu 23-Feb-17 20:45:13

I totally sympathise. We give ours his bedtime milk. He holds that in one hand sitting on my partners lap while I cut the nails on the other hand or feet. But it was difficult at one stage when he was two yrs old. He ended up scratching his 'bits' so badly in the bath one day he had to go to a&e. I had left one nail long and he had almost circumcised himself! Euw!

peaceloveandbiscuits Thu 23-Feb-17 20:48:28

Oh dear god miss!

Justmuddlingalong Thu 23-Feb-17 20:51:38

Try not to use the word 'cut'. Maybe he thinks it'll be painful?

peaceloveandbiscuits Thu 23-Feb-17 20:54:58

I say "do your nails", but he won't even let me touch them with my hands. It's like he's genuinely traumatised sad
I'll have to carry on with the enforced pinning down, because I can't think what else to do, and clearly he needs them done.

CotswoldStrife Thu 23-Feb-17 20:55:34

Have you tried filing them rather than cutting?

peaceloveandbiscuits Thu 23-Feb-17 20:55:47

I must add that I've never cut him with the clippers, so he has no reason to believe it hurts (unless it genuinely does, which I'm starting to wonder about...)

peaceloveandbiscuits Thu 23-Feb-17 20:57:12

I will try filing, but as I say, he throws a fit if I even try to touch his hands, and hates me filing my own nails.

I realise I sound like I'm not taking your suggestions on board, but I really have tried these things!

CotswoldStrife Thu 23-Feb-17 21:03:51

It doesn't sound as if you've tried filing his nails, or doing it in his sleep?

Perhaps a little bit each night/day, as I think cutting long nails may hurt a bit so the longer you leave it the worse it gets.

Aria2015 Thu 23-Feb-17 21:21:00

I use actual nail scissors and I find that I do lo's nails so much faster than with clippers. I do my lo's every 5 days while he has his milk before bed. He does grumble and sometimes struggles but even with him struggling I can do it super quick with scissors.

Good luck!

Calphurnia Thu 23-Feb-17 21:24:45

My DD is similar.
I just wait til she's asleep & do them one at a time over the course of a week so as not to wake her.
I don't want to make her do something she's obviously so scared of, however irrational I think it is.

clickclickclick Thu 23-Feb-17 21:25:21

Do it in his sleep. Just after he falls asleep, when he's breathing deeply or snoring, do it then. He won't wake up. Use a nail clipper as they're easier to manoeuvre than scissors.

Both my dc have ASD and never have tolerated their nails being cut. I've always done it in their sleep. (ditto hair cuts, lip balming cracked lips and whatever else)

Heatherbell1978 Thu 23-Feb-17 21:32:08

Is he a light sleeper? Why can't you do it in his sleep? I do my 2.5 year olds in his sleep as well as his hair....if I could brush his teeth in his sleep too I would...

peaceloveandbiscuits Thu 23-Feb-17 21:33:31

I will try in his sleep, but if he wakes up terrified and never sleeps again, I'm blaming you lot

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