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How to Keep Baby From Scratching His Face

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Parenting presents a lot of new and unknown challenges. So as a parent, you want to be as prepared as possible. All parents will find a point in raising their kids that seems overwhelming. Those parents who have been there before can easily attest to that.

The sight of a baby scratching his face can cause parents some worry. If the scratching is persistent, as a parent, you should definitely seek out the source.

There could be an allergy or skin irritation. It is very normal for kids to scratch their faces but it is something that you should try to prevent before it becomes a problem.

Father and baby in mittens lie face to face on a green bedspread.

It is normal for babies to scratch their faces. Especially when they are very young. This can cause acne and other skin infections. If you are unsure of how to treat the scars, consult a dermatologist.

However, prevention is better than treatment and grabbing a pair or two of mittens can save you money and energy in the long run. It will also save you the need to watch your baby at all times so that he doesn’t scratch his face. 

Tips to Keep Baby from Scratching His Face

After giving your baby a warm bath, pat dry the scratched part of his face. You can use a dry wash cloth and then apply a gentle lotion on his face. This will soothe his skin and prevent it from itching.

1. Moisturize His Face

mother applying skin care cream on cute funny baby face.

When you notice your child frequently scratching his face, apply a mild moisturizing lotion frequently, three times a day.

Ensure that the lotion is free from skin irritants such as sulfates and parabens which can cause allergic reactions. The lotion should only contain natural ingredients.

2. Get Some Mittens for Your Little Champ

Wearing mittens not only prevents baby from feeling cold but also prevents him from scratching his face.

Mittens, usually soft and available in a range of colors and sizes, provide protection and warmth.

3. Trim His Nails

Baby’s nails have a tendency to grow quickly. Trim them while baby is asleep. Trim them once a week to prevent him from cutting his face when he scratches it.

Be extra careful and gentle not to cut his tender skin.

4. Swaddle Your Baby

Swaddling your baby keeps his arms secured and wrapped in a swaddle cloth. This will prevent him from flailing his hands and scratching his face.

The newborn is swaddled in a diaper sleeping in a crib with soft sides in the shape of animals

Why Babies Scratch Their Faces

A baby’s skin is soft and can be very sensitive. Scratching their faces could be due to:

1. Dry and Itchy Skin

Flaky, itchy or dry skin can be the biggest reason why babies scratch their faces. This may result in acne, which is caused by bacteria and dirt buildup, or itchy pimples.

Establish a good skin care regimen for your baby. Pay close attention to his diet as well. He may have allergies to certain foods which in turn can result in skin irritation and scratching (source).

2. The Startle Reflex

Babies have a high sensitivity to lights and sounds.

You have to remember that everything they hear and see is new to them. So it is easy for them to become startled. This is commonly referred to as the startle reflex.

When they are startled or frightened, they will flail their arms. When they flail their arms, they will may inadvertently scratch their face (source).

3. Exploration

Babies tend to explore their body parts, including their faces, and their surroundings after birth. When inside the womb, there is less room for movement and exploration.

They are simply trying to figure out how their surroundings respond to their reactions (source).

4. Emotional Reasons

Babies will swing their legs and arms in the air when they are upset. As a result, they might end up scratching their faces. Be observant and note their emotions when this happens so you can be ready with a solution to face scratching (source).

When Do Babies Stop Scratching Their Face?

Babies don’t have a sense of knowing what they are doing until they hit four months old. At this stage, they are able to know that scratching their face is painful. At six months, they will have also learned how to move and how to listen.

Some of them will stop whatever they are doing if cautioned. That is the time you can expect them to stop scratching their faces. Some may take a little bit longer but it should eventually come to a stop (source).

Cute funny baby looking surprised.

Will it Scar?

You do not have to worry much about your baby scarring his face from scratches. Babies’ nails are not strong and sharp enough to cause scars on their faces.

They are capable of leaving behind light marks which should disappear quickly. Scars will only appear if your baby is prone to dirt build up or acne.

In case the scratched area starts bleeding;

  • Gently sway him or rather keep him distracted so that his hands cannot reach his face. Also cuddle his hands and give him some comfort.
  • Use a clean or sanitized wash cloth to press on the wound gently until the bleeding stops.
  • Ensure that your nails are well trimmed and your hands washed with soap and clean water. This reduces the risk of infections on the open wounds.
  • Using hypoallergenic soap and warm water, gently wash the affected area to prevent bacteria buildup.
  • Allow the scratched area to completely heal before starting a routine moisturizing program.

What to put on the scratches

  • Apply petroleum jelly on the scratches to prevent them from drying and the forming scabs which take longer to heal.
  • Use antibacterial ointments to prevent the scars from worsening and itching. Use a soft bandage or wash cloth when applying the ointment.