When Do Babies Stop Scratching Their Face – Should You Worry?

By Maria Wilcox •  Updated: 10/14/22 •  9 min read
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If you’re wondering, “When do babies stop scratching their face?” you’re probably dealing with an infant whose face is full of tiny little injuries incurred from rugged baby nails. Will it ever end? Of course, it will! But you may need to intervene in the meantime. In this article, we’ll delve into the reasons your baby scratches their face as well as when you can expect this behavior to stop. 

when do babies stop scratching their face

Why Do Babies Scratch at Their Face?

There are many reasons that babies scratch their faces. One of the most common reasons is that they simply cannot control what they are doing.

Up until around 6 weeks old your baby will not be in control of their movements. This means that you will not only observe your baby’s herky jerky movements but also their inability not to scratch themselves. 

Though frustrating, your baby is not going to be able to keep their hands away from their face just because you want them to. Instead, you’ll have to figure out ways to help them.

But don’t worry; there’s tips for that too! 

Baby Scratching Face When Upset

Another common reason that babies scratch at their faces is that they may be upset.

Again, this isn’t to say that your baby is intentionally scratching their face (or even your face!). But rather, your baby may be moving uncontrollably in a frantic fashion because of the emotions they feel. This rapid movement can inadvertently cause them to scratch up their face. 

Of course, there are many reasons your baby could be upset, to begin with. Try to identify and remediate the cause of your baby’s disgruntled feelings in order to help them calm down. 

Baby Clawing at Face

If you still notice scratches on your baby’s face even when he or she isn’t upset, remember that it is normal and natural. Your baby may be simply exploring the world around them, and this includes their own face. There are ways you can allow your baby to be more comfortable as they explore in this way.

But we’ll be getting to that a bit later!

when do babies stop scratching their face

Why Do Babies Scratch Their Face When Sleeping?

If you notice that your baby wakes up with fresh red scratches on their face, it’s no coincidence.

Babies not only scratch themselves during the day but at night as well. In fact, if you allow your baby to sleep unswaddled, it may be more likely for them to scratch at night. 

Frustrated? I understand!

Know that there are ways around this to make your baby more comfortable and keep their skin clear of injury. Let’s take a look at a few of those ways now!

When Will My Baby Stop Scratching Their Face?

Though very common, your baby will likely stop scratching their face around 6 weeks old.

If however, your baby continues the behavior even long after 6 weeks, confer with your doctor. There may be an underlying cause making your baby itch. These can include itchy skin conditions such as eczema

when do babies stop scratching their face

How Can I Stop My Baby From Scratching His Face?

There are several ways to help your baby to stop scratching their face.

They include the following:

Cut Those Nails

Right after birth, you’ll likely notice your baby’s nails are already long. It is imperative that you cut your baby’s nails often to ensure they aren’t long enough to cause too many scratches.

When cutting your baby’s nails, do so with baby nail clippers, and be sure not to cut them too low. Also, be sure to cut along the natural curve of the nail for fingernails. Toenails should be cut straight across

Piyo Piyo Baby Nail Clippers (Blue)
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Buy Newborn Mittens

Another option is to use newborn mittens. Newborn mittens are designed to be lightweight and comfortable for your baby. Their softness prevents scratches and knicks from occurring on your baby’s soft skin.

They’re also helpful when your baby scratches their heads, or when you just want to keep their hands warm at night.

Burt's Bees Baby baby girls Mittens, No-scratch Mitts, 100% Organic Cotton, Set of 3 Mittens, Navy/Grey/White, One Size US
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Buy Onesies With Built-in Mittens

Did you know there are onesies with built-in mittens? It’s true!

These are super handy to have, as they aren’t as easy to get off the way newborn mittens might be. In addition, it’s the kind of setup that kills two birds with one stone.

What’s not to love?

Baby Boys Footie Pajama with Mitten Cuffs, Double Zipper Infant Cotton Onesie Sleeper Pjs, Footed Sleep Play (6-9 Months, Car Style)
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Wrap ‘Em Up

Swaddling your baby is another stellar idea, as this works not only to comfort your little angel but also to keep scratchy nails at bay. It is also a great way to put your baby to sleep–just be sure your baby is on his or her back and in his or her crib the entire time. 

aden + anais Essentials Easy Wrap Swaddle, Cotton Knit Baby Wrap, Newborn Wearable Swaddle Sleep Sack, 3 Pack, Toile, 0-3 Months, Small/Medium
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Keep Them Soothed

If your baby goes to bed upset, you can be sure that they may scratch up their face.

Of course, this sort of scratching won’t be international. It will, however, be a byproduct of having been put to sleep while still upset.

Soothe your baby by feeding, changing, and rocking your little angel before you put them down for a good night’s rest. 

When Do Babies Stop Scratching Their Face? Fairly Quickly!

So, when do babies stop scratching their face? Fairly quickly. Around 6 weeks, you’ll likely notice a reduction in scratching and other involuntary movements. If the scratching continues, be sure to consult with your doctor who can give you tailored advice concerning the next steps to take. 

I hope this helps! 

When Do Babies Stop Scratching Their Face – FAQs

Is it normal for babies to scratch?

Yes, it can be normal for your baby to scratch. But if your baby is older than 6 weeks old, you may want to speak with your doctor about ongoing scratching behavior. It may be indicative of itchy skin conditions like eczema. Your doctor will be able to give you details through testing and your baby’s current health history.

Why do babies scratch their face and pull their hair?

Babies often scratch their faces involuntarily and may also pull their hair. However, some hair pulling, similar to face scratching, can be indicative of worrisome emotions. Your baby may be feeling upset or disgruntled about something. See if you can identify the root cause to help better soothe your baby. 

Why do babies scratch you?

If your baby is scratching you, it is unlikely that he or she is doing so internationally. Just like babies often scratch themselves, they often unintentionally scratch others as they move. No hard feelings! 

How do I stop my toddler from scratching her face at night?

If your toddler is scratching their face at night, try to identify the root cause. Are they allergic to something they’ve been eating? Do they have eczema? Are certain fabrics irritating their skin? In the meantime, consider using long clean socks to cover their hands with. You can also give them something cuddly to distract them at night.

How to stop baby scratching face at night?

To keep your newborn from scratching their face at night, keep their nails trimmed. Also, be sure to either swaddle your baby or purchase newborn gloves to keep exposed nails hidden. 

Why does my baby scratch his face while breastfeeding?

Your baby is likely unintentionally scratching their face during breastfeeding. If the child is older and doing this, it may be a self-soothing method or may even be a sign of frustration. 

Maria Wilcox

Former instructor with an M.A. in Education turned grateful stay-at-home mama to one, I look to share helpful insights related to babies, toddlers, kids, and families for the benefit of real people just like you.

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