Newborns are have such beautiful faces. Whether they are sleeping or grinning, there is nothing as perfect as an infants face. They have the softest skin to touch.
But after several days of bringing your baby home, you’ll start to notice some scratches on their face. A new baby scratches their face repeatedly, which can be pretty scary for new parents.
Thankfully, babies stop scratching their face from around six weeks after birth. The scratching should stop altogether when they are four months old.
Let’s talk a little more about this newborn scratching face issue and how to prevent it.
Why do babies scratch their face?
Well, there are several reasons for it. Here are a few reasons to help you understand the face clawing behavior for babies.
It takes time for your infant to learn to control their reflexes. As part of the process, your baby might scratch themselves while learning how their body moves and what it can do.
As they grow up, the scratching becomes less and less because they are more self-aware and better understand their bodies.
They usually have an involuntary response known as the Moro reflex when they’re still learning to control how their body moves.
This is when your little one suddenly stretches their arms and legs and arches their back when they are startled.
When they stretch their arms, they may involuntarily draw their hands over their faces scratching themselves in the process.
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Exploring the new environment around them
The sense of touch is one of the primary senses that little ones will use as they explore this new world.
After months of being surrounded by nothing but water, everything around them is unfamiliar. So your baby might scratch their face as they are trying to adjust and feel their new surroundings.
Face scratching might also be a sign that’s the baby is not comfortable. They may be feeling restless, irritable, hot, or frustrated by something.
This is especially true for older children who are beginning to express themselves better.
Your baby’s skin will take a while to get used to the new environment. You may find their skin drying out or peeling off.
This is all a normal part of growth, but it may cause your baby’s skin to be itchy. This may be another reason why they are constantly scratching themselves.
So when do babies stop scratching their face?
As mentioned before, this “baby scratching face” phenomenon tends to subside as kids grow older. So the major question is When Do Babies Stop Scratching Their Face?
The scratching is at its worst in the first couple of weeks. This is because they have little control of their bodies and are still developing their reflexes.
As they grow, they start to learn how to stay in control and move their bodies the way they want.
They’ll begin to understand the pain that the scratches can cause, and they are more deliberate with their actions. During this growth phase, the scratches begin to subside.
At around four months old, your baby will be very much self-aware. They will be able to recognize you and the things around them.
They will have figured out what their body parts can do. At this point, the scratching should stop altogether.
Baby scratching face: Is it dangerous?
The scratching may get quite severe, especially in the early days; you might notice tiny or sometimes big scratch marks on their faces. The scars and bruises can look bad on your baby’s smooth, supple skin.
The good news is the scratch marks usually disappear on their own after a few days. They are often surface bruises that don’t take too long to heal.
However, if your baby keeps scratching their face and, in the process, reopening the old bruises, you may need to use ointment and antibacterial creams to lessen the pain and protect your baby from infection.
Start by washing the part of the face with the scratches gently. Make sure the skin is completely dry before using any cream on your baby’s face. If the scratches are nasty, you may need a Band-Aid.
It may also be a good idea to consult with your doctor if your baby has excessive scratches on their face.
How can I stop baby from scratching their face?
While you wait for your baby to grow out of the phase, you can do some things to prevent the facial scratches and stop them from getting bruises.
Swaddling your little one
Swaddling your baby will keep their hands away from their face so they won’t be able to scratch themselves. If you do it right, your baby shouldn’t be able to pull their hands out of the swaddle.
Make sure you leave space that’s enough for three of your fingers to fit between the blanket and your baby’s body, so it’s not too tight. Your little one should be able to wiggle their hips freely so they can be comfortable.
The great thing about swaddling is that it not only prevents scratching but it’s also an excellent way for your baby to get a good night’s sleep.
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Another way to keep your baby from scratching at their face is to use mittens on their hands.
The mitts will ensure that their little fingers are properly enclosed so even if they do scratch, they won’t hurt themselves.
You can also use socks in place of gloves. Make sure the mitten or socks are not constrictive. They should also not be too loose to prevent suffocation risks.
Cut their nails
Keeping the little nails trimmed will ensure that your baby won’t get any scratch marks.
The best time to cut a baby’s nails is when they are sleeping or during a feed. They’ll be less fidgety, reducing the risk of accidentally cutting their fingers.
Remember to stay calm throughout; if you panic, you increase the risk of an accident.
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to do it right, consider using an emery board or file to keep the nails short.
Use clean nail clippers. It’s advisable to buy clippers meant explicitly for babies and avoid using adult clippers on your baby. This helps to prevent passing infections onto your little one.
Ensuring they are not very uncomfortable
Babies will scratch their faces when they are upset or frustrated. Be on the look out when they start acting cranky and attend to them.
A baby may scratch their face because they are hungry, too hot/cold, gassy and need to burped, or sleepy.
As you learn your baby, you’ll be able to pick up their cues before they leave a big scar on their face.
Moisturizing the baby’s skin
Your baby maybe scratching their face because of skin dryness. To prevent this, apply baby cream to their skin regularly to moisturize.
Avoid using harsh soaps when washing your baby and dress them in cotton or fabrics that do not irritate their sensitive skin.
It’s perfectly normal for your baby to scratch their face. It’s all part of the growing pains. But the good news is that when do babies stop scratching their face? They do it from six weeks and it usually stops completely on their fourth month.
In the meantime, focus on preventing scratch marks by making sure that your baby is swaddled or using mittens. Also, keep their nails short.
If your baby hurts themselves while they’re scratching, clean up the scratches and apply ointments and antibacterial creams to prevent infection and promote healing.
Most importantly, don’t worry much about it. It will be over before you know it.
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