Is it Normal For Babies to Scratch Themselves with Their Fingernails?
Parents can be reassured that it is normal for babies to sometimes scratch themselves, particularly on the face.
In the first few months, while still learning how to control their arms and legs, babies will frequently touch their faces when awake or asleep. If your baby has eczema or dry skin, this could worsen his or her scratching.
It is rare that any harm is caused to your baby from a scratch as almost all will heal without leaving a mark. However, there is a small risk your baby may hurt the cornea, or the scratch could become infected. If this happens it is recommended to consult a doctor.
Read on below for some precautions you can take to help prevent your baby from scratching.
The best way to keep your baby from scratching him or herself is by keeping the nails groomed. Baby finger and toenails are soft and don’t need to be trimmed much as they are usually worn down by touching clothing or simply through interacting with their surroundings. However, it is still helpful to maintain them by shortening and rounding off nails with a file.
Nail clippers are sharp and can be dangerous for little ones. A safer option is to use a device like the Little Martin’s Baby Nail Trimmer which uses oscillating cushioned sandpaper to file away nail length while gently buffing away any jagged edges. If your baby squirms a lot, you can try to do this when he sleeps or is drowsy.
Amazon user ElleZ wrote about the product, “My newborn was scratching the heck out of her face, and I couldn't keep up with the filing! I was too scared to cut. With this tool, her nails are done in 1 min, and she doesn't mind at all!”
Another customer Crystal DePaolo said these were “more effective and easier to use than emery boards” for her 2-month-old daughter.
Use cotton mittens
Another way to help prevent your baby from scratching is by putting on cotton mittens. However, do not leave them on throughout the day as babies need to be able to feel and explore things with their fingers as part of their developmental process. A good time to use mittens is only during the night when he or she is more prone to scratching.
Swaddle your baby
For babies younger than 2 months, you can swaddle him or her in a thin blanket to prevent the hands from reaching the face. Make sure the blanket is loose around the hip area and does not cover the face or neck. If your baby becomes flushed remove it to prevent overheating.
Keep baby’s face moisturized
Using warm water and fragrance-free soaps on your baby’s face daily will help prevent the skin from drying out or becoming irritated. If the skin does appear to be dry, you can also apply some moisturizer.
- Agnes Yoon