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What is the Right Age for a Girl to get a Manicure?

Baby with Nail polish

Mom and Baby Matching Pedis: Super Sweet or Over the Top Sassy?

My husband is anti-manicure for his little girl. I mean vehemently anti-manicure. Unwavering in his belief that it is totally, utterly unacceptable for his daughter to have painted fingernails or toenails. He feels the same way about bikinis too, by the way. I understand his position. My own father, who no one would accuse of being hip but also wasn’t ultra-conservative, felt the same way. I kind of agree, but don’t really feel strongly about it. Personally, I probably would have caved to my daughter’s first request for painted toenails, so long as the color was cute and sparkly and her argument was as persuasive as, say, “but other girls in preschool have their toes painted.” But, in case I didn’t mention it, my husband feels strongly, so I back him up. I dutifully and convincingly tell my daughter that all families have different rules, and in our family we don’t think it’s appropriate for girls her age to paint their nails. Our daughter isn’t happy with the answer, but she gets it and, surprisingly, doesn’t push back much. (Unlucky for her, she does not have Tony Hawk for a Dad.)

But then the paradox struck, a simple request throwing two of my husband’s strongest held beliefs in direct opposition to each other. We are going to a wedding in Florida in April. My husband’s nephew is getting married. His sister, who is the mother of the groom, has very particular expectations of social conformity. And my husband believes strongly in conforming to those expectations. His sister is a most gracious hostess, and he won’t want to let her down whether that’s in regards to what we wear, running across town in both directions at once with both kids to make an appearance at every wedding-related event, keeping the kids up late, etc. So when my daughter, now six, told her father that she thought she should be able to wear nail polish for the wedding, he was stumped. He was stumped because I think he knows his sister would think that was a great idea. In fact, it’s entirely possible she has booked manis and pedis for all the female guests in our family, including my daughter. So, what was my husband’s excellent response? It was, “We’ll have to see. I’m not sure they even do that in Florida.” Huh? Well, he shanked it under pressure.

I think my husband is hoping our daughter will forget about it and not bring up the issue again. If she does, though, behind closed doors I think I’ll urge my husband to let her do it for this one event. Then she’ll get the sense that it’s something for special occasions only, as opposed to simply not understanding his position at all. But if he doesn’t agree, I’ll support a “no” response.

What do you think? Have you let your daughter get a manicure? What is the right age?


  1. rebecca March 11, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    I have a 4 year old and I’ve been painting her nails for 2 years. It’s just nail polish is my theoryand doesn’t last long on kids because of how rough they play, dirt, water etc. It makes her happy and doesn’t cost me much for cheapy nail polish. Now going to a salon maybe when she’s bigger and can appreciate it more..

  2. Organized Mom March 12, 2013 at 1:44 am

    My 6 year has had a few pedicures. In the summer I tend to get pedicures every 3 or 4 weeks. For a year or two I would deny my daughter’s repeated requests to come with me. Not because of any strong belief but selfishly pedicures are my time. It’s an hour on the weekend that I get to read trashy magazines and take a break from the constant chatter.

    The first time I caved was before a family vacation to a tropical island. If I recall the day, it was probably because I felt guilty leaving both the kids at home with my husband who had pulled more than his weight that weekend. The girls at the salon LOVED her, but she never stopped talking so it was a different enjoyable for me (I didn’t get to read one page of my trash magazine but I ate up every minute of how adorable she was being.)

    The next time she went, my goddaughter who lives in NJ was staying with us. I took the girls to get their nails (hand and toes) painted. When the nail technician asked if they could get crystal flowers, I declined due to the cost. When they offered to do it for free (cause the girls melted the technicians heart), how could I say no? Wow, talk about opening a can of worms there.

    Now I find myself “sneaking out” to get my nails done when I really need the peace and quiet but my daughter does still come every 3 or 4 visits. Toes only. She only got the hands done the one time (since they get picked off so quickly on the hands).

    One thing to consider… my daughter has been invited to a few b-day parties this year. One at which they put on make-up and gave make-up as the goody bag. I’ll save that debate for another day. But another was for a very good friend and the girls went to a nail salon to get manis and pedis. Have you thought of what you might do in that case? I’m guessing there will be a few challenging situations in the future as it relates to pedicures and manicures. Good luck!

  3. Nina July 8, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    I had no idea some parents were against it. I never really viewed it the same as makeup, I always associated it with good hygiene I guess. “Customising” ourselves and using colour as a form of expression is a very basic and lovely thing. (You can get some very pretty, sensible colours too, that are appropriate for school.)
    If I see a six year old with glittery pink nails I feel the same was as when I see a six year old in a ballerina tutu or face paint. It’s just them having harmless fun!

    I have lovely memories of my mother painting our nails together – I didn’t like my feet and it gave me confidence having ten little pale blue squares looking up at me, haha. When we did our nails together I felt relaxed, grown up and presentable.

    If colour is offensive to your husband can your daughter not at least play with nail files and buffing/cleaning them? Keeping your nails free from dirt and clipping them properly is a good lesson and might sate her questions a bit? 🙂 No one wants to see their little girl sauntering through the house with 3 inch red claws, but pretty clean nails is a lesson in taking care of oneself.

    I suppose six years old is still pretty young, but it’s still temporary. As long as she is not obsessively painting her little nails every day, what’s the harm in something that flakes off/washes off in a day or so for a birthday party? That said, I wouldn’t take my six year old to an actual salon for a medi/pedi, lol. I’d happily paint my child’s nails if they asked.

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