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Baby Care Why Does My Baby Have Spoon Shaped Nails (Koilonychia)?

Little baby feet

No parent wants less than a perfect baby, all the way from head to toe. So it can be a bit worrisome when you notice that your newborn baby has what appears to be spoon shaped nails that could hold drops of milk or water. But rest assured, this is a completely normal condition in infants and toddlers.


Called koilonychia, the condition is characterized by a concave dorsal surface (spoon shape) of the nail. It’s seen in most all babies and young children -- especially on the big toenails -- due to the fact that their nails are thin and soft. Parents usually don’t have to worry, because almost all cases of baby and child koilonychia are temporary and will spontaneously resolve themselves in a matter of a couple of years.

However, some doctors warn that in rare cases, there is a correlation between the nail condition and a mild iron deficiency in infants (in fact, most cases of adult koilonycia are linked to low levels of iron, as well). Additional signs of an iron deficiency in babies and children include sores on the tongue (glossitis) and at the corners of the mouth (angular stomatitis), tiredness, poor appetite, irritability, pallor (skin paleness), developmental delay, breath holding and difficulty swallowing. If you notice any of these signs in your baby or child in conjunction with spoon shaped nails, be sure to speak with your doctor and ask about ways you can improve your baby or child’s intake of iron. Usually this includes reducing your baby's intake of cow's milk and/or changing to an iron-fortified formula. 

Kambra Clifford

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