Something that most babies do is scratch their face when they are sleeping. There are many reasons for this and because their little nails are so sharp, it can leave marks on their velvety skin. Sometimes their nails will even break the skin, causing it to bleed. So, is there anything that you can do to prevent this? And why do they even do it? After all, it must be painful.
Why Do Babies Scratch Their Face?
Babies have what is known as the startle, or Moro, reflex, which is an uncontrollable movement often triggered by a loud sound or movement. Babies who hear a loud sound, even their own crying, may suddenly throw their head back and extend their arms and legs outwards as if they are falling. When a baby does this, they might accidentally scratch their face. The good news is that the Moro reflex usually goes away between the ages of three and six months.
Your baby may be suffering with a skin condition such as eczema. This is common on the stomach, hands, feet, scalp, and cheeks and may be the reason your baby is scratching their face. If this is the reason for the scratching, it is important that you take action to prevent it as scratching often makes it worse.
How to Prevent Scratching
It is not possible to simply tell a baby to stop scratching, so you will need to be more inventive. Keeping baby’s nails short can help but they do grow very quickly so it can be hard to stay on top of this and completely prevent scratching.
What you can do is put your baby to sleep in a CozeeCoo sleep sack that will ensure hands are kept away from the face at night. These organic cotton wearable baby blankets allow for freedom of movement and a comfortable sleep while keeping arms gently restrained.
Keeping the skin moisturized and hydrated can help to relieve itching. If your child does have eczema, your pediatrician will likely recommend an emollient or cream to lock in moisture. If itching continues to be a problem, try keeping creams in the fridge for instant, cool relief.
Some people use tapping to interfere with the nerve signals that cause itchiness. By gently tapping on the skin, the vibration will interrupt these signals and stop the itch.
A lukewarm bath before bed is another tip for parents. However, do not allow your baby to lie in the water for too long as this can cause skin dryness. Remember to pat the skin dry after and use plenty of cream.
To avoid irritation of your baby’s skin, use shampoos and body washes designed for sensitive skin and make sure that any laundry detergent you use is gentle on skin. Dress your baby in organic fabrics such as cotton for breathability. This will provide comfort at night and prevent them from getting too hot, which can cause itching to become worse.
When Should I be Worried?
If your baby continues to scratch and nothing you are doing seems to help, it would be wise to seek professional advice. Your pediatrician will be able to examine your baby to figure out the cause of the itch. It might be necessary to refer your baby to a dermatologist for treatment. If eczema is suspected and it is not responding to over-the-counter itch creams, it may be necessary for your child to be treated with topical steroids. These creams are only available on prescription and should be used as per the advice of your doctor or pediatrician.